better late than never, please write about Paradise.
Paradise seems like it would be a peaceful, happy place. However the beginning chapter of the book with the murdering of the women of a convent seems to convey quite the opposite appearance of a blissful milieu.
Paradise by Toni Morrison is one of the most perplexing books I have ever read. The chapters, characters and with flashbacks, timeline of the book are hard to follow and with certainty I can say that I am confused. I am accustomed to reading books that move on along a timeline while developing the characters and the plot. However this book started with the plot, moved to the past, then the present and then all around.
One reoccurring issue of the book that is quite apparent so far, is that the men of the town are patronizing toward the women, and the women seem to resent the men for doing so. The women are expected to be dutiful to their husbands, taking care of the home and the children but are never included in to the decisions of the town that affect them. I think that the men of Ruby are afraid that their wives will want the same life as the women of the convent because they are free to do what they want and they know their women are not.
Paradise. It must be a good place, peaceful and quite. A place where we have no troubles, no pain and most important not a harsh reality we expose ourselves every day, not in paradise, but right here on earth. Then what is paradise? Is it different place for each one and one of us? Is it really as they describe in poetry and literature? Or it’s just a relative definition? What is paradise for me is not quite paradise for others. I can be in a situation, place or time which can be described by me as paradise. Is it so? What does Toni Morrison mean by calling her book Paradise?
We can divide it for two parts: physically and spiritually. Physically, even though no one came back from there to tell us, we live in this world and paradise is the next world, a better place to live, where we don’t have pain, troubles and suffering. Is that so? We don’t really know, or should I say not yet.
However, the second part is spiritually. It is right here on earth. We actually experience it right now. Is it really paradise? We don’t know, but if a place, time or situation will make us feel good with no pain, no suffering and no troubles, then it should be paradise. What I can see a paradise can be hell for others and vice versa.
In her book Paradise Toni Morrison talks about the Convent. It is a closed place, like a shelter, which picks up those, who life didn’t smile to them and needed some protection or shelter. For those people the Convent is a paradise. Over there they find protection, love and affection – things they couldn’t get outside. They run away from evil and cruelty, which earth could offer to some of us, right to their paradise – the Convent. On the other hand, for the people outside the Convent looks like the source for all troubles of Ruby. Is that so?
I began to read “Paradise” by Toni Morrison and was quite befuddled by the writing style and arrangement of the plot. Morrison seems to jump around between the present and past histories of the men who have barged in on the Convent. Therefore, it is completely inevitable that the reader may get confused as to when the actual story is going on. I definitely got confused. I know that certain men, of the town known as Ruby, have entered the “convent”, where suspicious women live. As the first chapter unfolds, the readers encounter the various men who have began to shoot at the women in the Convent. Then, Morrison sheds light on different points in the mens’ lives. This is where the reader may get confused. The following chapters focus on the lives of the women in the Convent, within the town of Ruby and conflicts they encounter with the men. A dominant theme in “Paradise” is the role of men versus the role of women. Women are at the periphery of the scenes in the book, while men seem to assume the dominant and powerful role. Men do not treat the women with respect, and the women seem to be second-class citizens, especially in some of the more poignant scenes.
Paradise by Toni Morrison is as interesting as it is difficult to read. The pages turn in rapid succession with the desire of obtaining answers to the ever present question of why? Why kill the women in the Convent? Each chapter is a thorough explanation of how the women eventually reached the Convent. The general story line is often lost in Morrison’s deeply descriptive text and flashbacks to seemingly irrelevant stories. Morrison often interrupts the story with rather random narratives that are not explored and developed until two chapters later, if at all, which makes for a perplexing read at times. It is becoming quite apparent that outsiders are not welcome in Ruby because they are seen as a threat to the current social and political order dominated by the men in town. Any attempt to disrupt or alter this arrangement is met with chants of disrespect for town elders and its founders.
Paradise by Toni Morrison is by far one of the most confusing books I have ever read. Each chapter title is a female character in the book and each chapter tells about the women the chapter title is named after but you do not find out who the character is until the very end of the chapter. With all of the different nicknames for all of the women it is hard to keep up. In the very beginning Toni Morrison starts the book off with a killing of the women. This was such a strong point to start off with because it gets the reader wanting to know what happened that lead to these women being killed. All of these women are run aways and have some sort of problem going on in their life. The story of Mavis when Toni Morrison introduces Mavis was kind of confusing at times because the reader never finds out why Mavis feels like everyone in her family is trying to kill her including her children. This book is very suspenseful because it leaves you at mini cliff hangers in every chapter because the reader only gets a section of what is going on in each of the women’s lives because it does jump around so much. One example of this is the last sentence in Grace, when Toni Morrison writes “you have to, I’ve been raped and it’s almost August. Only one part of that was true.” That chapter leaves you at such a cliff hanger the reader has no idea what part of that sentence is true. Normally one would think that the next chapter would start where the last left off but the next chapter is about something totally non related and about a different character’s life.
In the novel “Paradise” by Toni Morrison we realize that the book isn’t going to be somewhat of a “paradise” in the first chapter when we see that the women are getting shot. The first thing that came to my mind was a whole bunch of questions: Why were these women getting shot? Who were these men shooting the women? What kind of place where the women in that the men were so curious as they walked in? The book in my opinion is good but very confusing. As we read the chapters we are introduced to characters that end up going to the Convent. But at the same time as we read the women’s stories and how they ended up in the Convent we are also read flashbacks, which make the book confusing. In history, men have had opportunities women weren’t allowed. For instance they had the capability of voting, owning property, etc. In this novel, the men speak for not only themselves but for their whole family including their wife. When K.D slapped Arnette, we see that the men of Ruby all come together to come to a solution of what to do; at no point did they ask Arnette how she felt. We also see that the men have been belittling the women when they first moved the Oven. The women had no say when the men took apart the oven and moved it. But deep down inside the women resented the men for doing it, there was no need to move the Oven, they could have done other things. As the men fight about the saying of the plaque, women are thinking of their opinion but never speak them.
The book Paradise is very confusing, yet makes me curious in a way. It speaks of many characters, but never really goes into detail and gives much information to develop character personalities or character traits. For some characters, the only thing that is disclosed is the family tree. I like how Morrison uses different point of views in each chapter, and there is a bit of a foreshadowing that all these characters somehow meet together in the end. I also like how Morrison starts out each chapter in a way where the reader is thrown in the middle of the plot, which gives the effect of confusion and curiosity. This book, similar to Parable of the Sower, has many religious traits as well. There is a church where the townspeople of Ruby get together and argue about what the “Oven” really says. This also causes conflict in the story, which also foreshadows future problems between the elder generation and the younger generation.
In Toni Morrison’s Paradise there is a definite shift between the roles of men and women in the town of Ruby. It has always been obvious in most novels that portray both males and females that the males have a more significant standing as well as a bigger part in decision making. Women are always expected to stay on the outskirts. Their so called job is to take care of the house as well as the children and not participate in any form of conversation that revolves around the choices the town must decide on.
The main issue with the town of Ruby is that it is located closely to the Convent which is seen as a solace and safe haven to many women. Most of these women are runaway’s who have been taken advantage of by their spouses or families. The men of Ruby see the Convent as an issue because there are no men living on the premises at all. Their fear is that their women will want the life of the women of the Convent and get the idea in their heads that they can exist without men.
The women of both Ruby and the Convent cannot be blamed for imagining a potential life without men simply because of their constant removal from discussions and arguments. The women are ultimately not taken seriously and the men choose not to see that there is the possibility of women being potential leaders or supporters. The women of the Convent have a fresh start whereas the women of Ruby have been trapped in a generational time warp that dates back to when they were living in the original town of Haven. Despite these differences there is a connection between the women of the Convent and Ruby that the men do not seem to understand. The women of Ruby can remember things about the Convent women as if they knew each other personally. The men, however, cannot seem to remember even one specific detail about any of the occurrences at the Convent.
The differences are becoming more obvious resulting in the men blaming the women at the Convent for the sudden changes in Ruby, but I wonder if the changes that are occurring are possibly the fault of the men not allowing the women to have their fair chance at stating their views and concerns. All throughout history women have been shunned from society for apparently not being smart enough to make contributions. The constant violence and resistance of change is solely being caused by the men so who is to say that the women are innocent in the midst of all of this confusion? If the men are the ones deciding what is best for the women as well as making the world work for everyone then perhaps they’re the ones who should be singled out rather than the women.
(Sean, I sent this to you in an e-mail, but when I saw that the blog is finally up I figured I’d post it here as well.)
As I began reading paradise, I was very confused by both the writing style and format of the book. The jumpiness of the book is much different that the straightforward books I am used to reading, however as I progressed into the novel, although still somewhat confusing, I was able to better understand the plotline as well as Morrison’s character development.
How the story is confusing to me, I feel that it could be understood to others if explained. To start the book begins with men in a house killing women. It seems basic enough, but as you continue reading, you are constantly given back stories and the personal histories of each character given. As I first read this, I was annoyed that the author had to do this. It seemed excessive and unnecessary to me. Why put in back stories if you will not give us a clear and definite plotline. To add to this confusion a character name is never given. She left us descriptions but they seemed to be muddled in my brain. It was all very overwhelming to process that much confusing information because I was never sure where one characters story ended and where another began. In addition, it was hard to tell what was past and what was currently the present.
As the story progressed, I began to understand a feel for her writing style and I was better able to understand both the progression of the story and what it was trying to convey. As with grace, you can see how her characters story led into her staying at the covenant. I understood that as you continue each character back story had an integral part to play in the development of the town, how the women became to be part of the covenant, and lastly I am starting to read how the town began to hate and despise the mysterious covenant. By continuing, I was able to find out what the purpose and the importance of the oven was, and how the people came into ruby. The back stories in the beginning of the story combined with the present are starting to paint a clearer image into my head.
As I finish the book, I am very eager to find out how all of the stories and histories mingle themselves into one cohesive story. What I am most excited to discover is what mysteries lay inside the covenant of women. So far I have only read into the lives of two women who have became part of it, as well as the two who were originally there. It is hard to imagine what terrible things a small group of women, who are for the most part isolated, can achieve. In addition, I am eager to find out why the town seems to despise them so much.
My first impression was that of hatred for the book. I was not sure if a book like this one would be of interest to me, since my preference in books usually has something to do with dragons and adventure. However, I am finding that I am truly enjoying the book. I just have to sit and slowly pay attention to what I am reading. I usually do not do this but since there is little dialogue it is hard for me to read solely on descriptions.
Overall I am excited to continue reading this book and I cannot wait to finish.
Ps- I just combined the last two blog posts, since they were both on paradise I felt that it would have been hard for me to write about the book in two halves.
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