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MonkeyNotes-Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
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In the conversation between Sydney and Valerian, the Street's son Michael is brought up. Though Valerian's son never appears in person in the narrative, a lot about him is learned from the conversations that the others have. It is apparent that Michael is different from other men of his age. He comes across as being a drifter, a man who indulges in a variety of interests according to his whims and fancies. He lives an alternative lifestyle and is involved in environmental politics as well as Native American rights. Valerian is obviously not quite happy with the way his son has turned out to be as he was a successful entrepreneur and probably wants his son to follow his footsteps.

Jadine is mentioned in the conversations in the greenhouse and she makes an appearance toward the end of this chapter. Valerian is scared that she might take Sydney and Ondine along with her when she leaves. However, Margaret reassures him they will not leave. She acts as if they owe the Streets their loyalty. This is a typical reaction that white people have to their servants. It is clear that Valerian is dependent on them in his old age and this is one of the rare occasions when Valerian displays his vulnerability. It is clear that the black couple love Jadine, their niece, a lot. She comes across as a lively, charming and pretty girl. She has been featured as a model on the cover of a popular magazine and Ondine is proud of her.


In a similar manner, Sydney and Ondine discuss their employers in the kitchen. Ondine is infuriated that she has been asked to make turkey and apple pie for the Christmas dinner instead of the traditional goose dinner. Turkey and apples are difficult to come by in the Caribbean and are not typical foods eaten there. This reveals Margaret's ethnocentrism as she attempts to surround herself with the foods she is used to eating rather than adapt to the new cuisine of her adopted home.

Ondine betrays a deep dislike for Margaret although at one time they were close and the reasons become clear in the later part of the novel. While Ondine believes that Michael does not care much about his mother, Sydney thinks that things are perfectly normal between mother and son. Toni Morrison succeeds in making the reader feel that they have known the characters a long time by the skillful manner in which she depicts their conversations.

The mystery of who is eating the chocolate will come to light in the third chapter when the discovery is made that the Street household is harboring a fugitive, but for now it is a source of humor and mystery as Ondine and Sydney try to figure out who the culprit is.

Thus, the reader is introduced to the principal characters in the first chapter of the novel. Yardman and his Mary are also mentioned in this first chapter. They later play a relevant role in that they become Son's friends and confidantes. The first chapter serves an expository function and the reader now has sufficient information about the characters for the author to develop the plot of the novel. L'Arbe de la Croix and its residents are very vivid in the reader's imagination.

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MonkeyNotes-Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
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