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MonkeyNotes-Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
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Notes

While the first chapter had concentrated on the conscious lives of the main characters, in this one, the reader is introduced to their subconscious lives. Toni Morrison has used an extraordinary way of presenting the personal aspects of their lives and the dilemmas in it by devoting the whole chapter to the internal lives of the characters during one night at the villa. When humans sleep, their defenses are down and it is only then that their real feelings and fears surface.

Jadine dreams about hats and then remembers an incident in Paris. She had seen a tar colored woman in a yellow dress at the supermarket and had not been able to forget her. Jadine has never understood the reason for the insult but the incident has shaken her world view. For some reason Jadine had wanted to be respected by that woman and she now feels dishonest in comparison to that incredible personality. In this woman, she discerned an authenticity, an essential "blackness" that Jadine herself has subjugated in order to be successful in the predominantly white world of fashion. She has made concessions while this African woman has not. Toni Morrison has depicted the fears and insecurities of a black woman in the modern world. Jadine is working hard to be successful in what can still be seen as a white man's world. But her success as a model is subjected to suspicion by other blacks. They think that she has corrupted herself in the path to fame and success. Jadine is fighting hard to maintain her individuality in the competitive world of fashion in Paris and New York.


A couple of white men are interested in her romantically but Jadine wonders whether they are in love with her or with her image as a smart young black woman. The woman in yellow had astutely understood that Jadine has submitted to the white world and imitated their lifestyle in order to be successful. Later in the novel, Jadine is rebuked by her lover Son as well for lacking a fraternal affection with the blacks. Ondine too tells her that she cannot be a complete woman unless she learns to care for elders and Therese says that Jadine has lost her ancient properties. Much of Jadine's story will have to do with understanding herself as part of a culture.

Jadine may appear adorable, charming and smart but beneath the confident surface lies insecurities that make her selfish and absorbed. She does not conform to the norms laid down for women by society yet she is torn between the urge to follow traditions and the urge to be accomplished.

A legend concerning a hundred horsemen riding a hundred horses on the hills of Isle des Chevaliers is often mentioned in the course of the novel and refers to Son, who joins these blind horsemen, in an attempt to move away from the so-called civilized world. When Jadine stares out of the window at the hills beyond and thinks of these horsemen she cannot but help but connect them in her mind with the memory of the woman in yellow. Both represent strong humans who are traditional and close to nature. Jadine feels trivial and small in comparison as she has succumbed to the ways of the white world and has been disconnected from her roots.

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