Paradise (MaxNotes)

Paradise (MaxNotes)

by David M. Gracer, Toni Morrison, English Literature Study Guides
     
 

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REA’s MAXnotes is an insightful series of literature study guides covering over 80 of the most popular literary works.

MAXnotes study guides are student friendly and provide all the essentials needed to prepare students for homework, discussions, reports, and exams.

Our MAXnotes for Toni Morrison’s Paradise study guide includes an

Overview


REA’s MAXnotes is an insightful series of literature study guides covering over 80 of the most popular literary works.

MAXnotes study guides are student friendly and provide all the essentials needed to prepare students for homework, discussions, reports, and exams.

Our MAXnotes for Toni Morrison’s Paradise study guide includes an overall summary, character lists, explanation and discussion of the plot, overview of the work’s historical context, and a biography of the author. Each section of the work is individually summarized and includes study questions and answers.

Our Toni Morrison’s Paradise MAXnotes study guide is a handy resource when preparing for exams or doing homework, and it makes a great companion to the original work.

Toni Morrison’s Paradise MAXnotes is also an invaluable resource for English teachers who are teaching the original work and need a refresher. Each MAXnotes includes topics for term papers with sample outlines.

Editorial Reviews

D. T. Max
For me there are two Toni Morrisons. The first Morrison is intimate and republican. Her theme, most brightly handled in The Bluest Eye, is family. The second Morrison is impersonal and imperial. Her theme, majestically handled, is history. The ironically titled Paradise, like Beloved, belongs to the work of the second Toni Morrison. Sentences roll on like breakers. The generations are born, till the earth and lie beneath. Sing, oh muse!

Paradise begins in 1976 in Ruby, an affluent all-black Oklahoma town with a population of 360, and flashes back to the men and women who founded the town's precursor, Haven, after the Civil War. Haven was decimated not by whites (there are hardly any whites in Paradise) but by the Depression, leading the children of its founders to pick up and move 240 miles to the west and try again.

Nearly every townsperson gets a cameo in the course of this narrative of flawed nation-building. What I wouldn't give for a relationship chart. There are the town's macho leaders, the twins Deacon and Steward Morgan. There are their wives, Soane and Dovey. Both know tragedy. One has had two sons die. The other has had multiple miscarriages, each punished according to the sins of the husband. There is an insurgent outside preacher named Reverend Misner, who is keeping court with an independent woman and store owner named Anna Flood. They are the closest thing to common sense in the town. And there is a no-good lothario named K.D., son of Deacon and Steward's deceased sister Ruby, eponym of the town. Imagine a family reunion when you're not quite catching the names.

The action, though, is simple. As the novel opens, a woman lies dead in the front hall of the Convent, a former Catholic retreat just outside Ruby. The town's alpha menfolk have driven over and shot her, and now they are hunting down the house's remaining inhabitants. Connie, Seneca, Grace, Pallas and Mavis are the prey, female refugees who gathered in this safe place. They have done nothing wrong. Their crime is otherness. Their practices are vaguely occult, vaguely Sapphic and vaguely threatening to law and order. The men mistrust them. In short, they are killed because they can be slain without consequence.

And afterward Ruby is a little bit sorry. Morrison writes: "Bewildered, angry, sad, frightened people pile into cars, making their way back ... How hard they had worked for this place; how far away they once were from the terribleness they have just witnessed. How could so clean and blessed a mission devour itself and become the world they had escaped?" It would not, I think, be a leap to say there is a metaphor here.

There's also a helluva trick, a real coup de theatre, in these last pages. Beloved is no longer Morrison's only ghost story. But you'll have to read from the opening scene, when the guns go off, to the final one, when the chickens come home to roost, to figure this out. This is an extraordinary novel from a Nobel Prize winner confident enough to try anything.
Salon

Geoffrey Bent
In Paradise [Toni Morrison] has produced, unfortunately, her weakest book.... A theme can be pursued as relentlessly as an idea, and repeating a pattern twelve times doesn't make it twelve times more convincing... Paradise has about it a belligerent singlemindedness—one that gives the author's plea for tolerance the uninflected purity of a religious tract.
The Southern Review
New Yorker
The strangest and most original book Morrison has written.
Los Angeles Times
...[A] fascinating story...profound and provocative.
Time Magazine
One of the great novels of our day. . .At once gripping, moving, and imbued with [a] mysterious charm.
Michiko Katukani
[The novel] addresses the same great themes [as Morrison's] 1987 masterpiece, Beloved: the loss of innocence, the paralyzing power of ancient memories and the difficulty of accepting loss and change and pain. . . .[Paradise is] a heavy-handed, schematic piece of writing, thoroughly lacking in the novelistic magic Ms. Morrison has wielded so effortlessly in the past. . . .a clunky, leaden novel.
The New York Times
Library Journal
Nobel laureate Morrison creates another richly told tale that grapples with her ongoing, central concerns: women's lives and the African-American experience. Morrison has created a long list of characters for this story that takes place in the all-black town of Ruby, Oklahoma, population 360, which was founded by freed slaves. In what could be seen as an attempt to create some of the same mysticism that was present in many of her previous works, Morrison alludes to Ruby's founding citizens, now ghosts, and only minimally focuses on the present generations that have let the founding principles of Ruby's forebears deteriorate. Paradise is an examination of the title itself and deliberately builds into a plot that is unexpected and explosive. This is Morrison's first novel since her 1993 Jazz, and it is well worth the wait. -- Emily J. Jones
NY Times Book Review
...[A]n ambitious, troubling and complicated piece of work, proof that Toni Morrison continues to change and mature in surprising new directions.
People Magazine
A memorable work of epic range and monumental ambition.
The New Yorker
The strangest and most original book Morrison has written.
Los Angeles Times
...[A] fascinating story...profound and provocative.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780878911981
Publisher:
Research & Education Association
Publication date:
02/01/2000
Series:
MAXnotes Literature Guides
Pages:
144
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
16 Years

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