Peppers's Reviews > Paradise

Paradise by Toni Morrison
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's review
Jul 15, 2009

it was amazing

Paradise is the final book of Morrison’s trilogy examining blackness in America, though her trilogy could just as easily be about love. Beloved we see a mother’s love, in Jazz we understand another all-consuming romantic love, and in Paradise we examine the love of God and use of religion. A town called Haven, later named, Ruby, run by men, who decide to kill women who have been victims of their own lives, ruining one paradise with intention of saving another. There is inherent irony in Toni Morrison’s novel Paradise, but the irony is not resultant from the play of fates, but evolution. The town of Haven is founded to escape victimization and found a new life where, “freedom was not entertainment, like a carnival or a hoedown that you can count on once a year. Nor was it the table droppings from the entitled. Here freedom was a test administered by the natural world that a man had to take for himself everyday. And if he passed enough tests long enough, he was king.” Haven, a town which was founded to house those who were turned away or run-out everywhere else, festers from within from fear and the security of money, a system of power, and order to maintain both. This results in the murder of women, who like those who founded the town, were also escaping lives without hope. As Connie tells one of the first new strangers to Ruby, “scary things not always outside. Most scary things inside.” Morrison forces us to examine ourselves, every fear, hope, misguided action, unspoken word, all our judgments and preoccupations are held up to the light and under this scrutiny we find redemption in darkness and often evil where we thought there could only be good or God. She has a way of reinventing the world by breaking with easily held generalities and delving deep into characters, seeking out humanity as it is and as it manifests. We are spared no glory or shame, no hypocrisy or heroism, people in all their rich, complex existence are playing out in tense, personal, ideological battles in everyday ways to violent outrage.
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