what is catching your attention in Paradise?
When I am reading Paradise, I feel like Morrison is always holding back information. She continually drops hints about the character or or a character’s story and then withholds the rest of the information until much later. However I keep wondering who the infants, daughters and brides that disappeared from their honeymoons are and why the men killed the women of the convent. Why are they doing this? I am so used to being able to connect with the characters and sympathize with them, understanding why they are doing what they are doing and behaving the way that they are. But in Paradise you never really know what the motivation is.
After much reading, I have begun to make connections between the characters and events.
Ruby’s community does not want to change. It wants to create a preserve the past and remember the lessons of it forever. However as U.S. history changes so must the town. They are not to be bothered with the Civil Rights struggle and have a different idea of what freedom. The biggest problem of the town is that the generations are clashing. They elders seem to have had struggled for everything they had and then the founders, who grew up more easily, only heard tales of what the elders had to do. The continuity however, was lost when the young grew up comfortably and with plenty. The elders see this as a problem because they believe that because they young have not struggled their success is fading and failing. An example of this is the disappointed hopes of the Morgans. They, who had thrived for so long, are now at a dead end. Elder Morgan had many children, but his family scattered, leaving Ruby far behind; therefore, his family line could not be counted on.
What really caught my attention in Paradise was the idea that the women of the Convent were choosing to live without men. Even though I am very happy with my boyfriend I can see why many women would want to remove themselves from a life filled with sometimes overpowering testosterone. The Convent women have a large amount of chutzpah and basically give off the feminist persona that many men find intimidating whether they will admit to it or not. The theme of women’s rights flows frequently through the pages of Paradise which reminded me of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love. In her book Gilbert says, “I crossed the street to walk in the sunshine.” I feel that this is what the Convent women have done. They all came to the realization that there was something in their life that wasn’t allowing them to live it to the fullest or at least live in peace and they chose to leave. Some could say that they were running away from the problems that were being thrown at them rather than facing them like a man (pun intended), but there is absolutely nothing wrong with stepping away in order to balance out the conflicts. The men never took the time to try and see the women’s perspectives because they are too busy feeding their ego’s.
There have been many themes and ideas that are recurrent in “Paradise” by Toni Morrison. One major theme is to be able to identify what exactly is a home: a place where you are born or a place where you feel safe and to which you can escape the rest of the world? Another theme seen in “Paradise” is the contrast between the town of Ruby and the Convent.
To the women of the Convent, the home in which they were born and raised seems unfamiliar and uninviting. They have either ran away willingly or felt it was necessary for their survival to leave and begin anew. For example, Mavis lacks a true identity and is completely subservient to her husband, Frank. Seneca was sexually abused and was placed lower on the totem pole than animals and material things. Connie suffered from depression. Each of the Convent women suffers from a lack of identity, mainly because men dominate the town of Ruby and women don’t have much say in daily life. They are almost non-existent and are often mistreated by the Ruby men.
While Ruby and the Convent are similar in the fact that they were established as a safe place for those in need, they are different in all other regards. Ruby is well organized and picturesque, while the Convent is messy, unkempt, and mysterious. The Ruby families come from the same ancestry, while the Convent women come from all over the country. In addition, Ruby is not open to welcoming strangers into town, while the Convent was established based on the fact that all of the women were (refugee) strangers to a new place and were welcomed in without hesitation. These themes are important in depicting the background and various plotlines that are found in the book.
I had a hard time following the plot of the book, but one thing that caught my attention is gender. The men of ruby are afraid of the women of the Convent. They are in charge and want to keep it like that. They say they protect the people of Ruby, but at the same time threaten them. I think it was Steward or someone who said they will shoot anyone who tries to change the oven. Also when one of the women was crying on the road, no one tried to help her. The Convent is a group of women who are self-sufficient and show the town and the men they do not need them, which particularly scares the men.
Another thing that caught my attention is the differences and similarities between Ruby and the Convent. At first you can see the similarities like the tension between both groups. The people of Ruby have problems with one another. The older and younger generations have arguments about what should or should not happen to the oven. You also see a lot of tension during the wedding between the ministers and the people, but they temporarily come together when kicking the Convent women out. The Convent women also had their own problems. They were always fighting with each other. Both groups started to become different when Connie put down rules for the women of the convent and to follow what she says. She broke the boundaries between the women to become one. She also accepted them all and anyone to stay in the house probably from her feeling lonely, but she never excluded anyone. The town in the other hand excludes the women of the convent. They do not really like any outsiders except for the families in Ruby.
While I was reading Paradise the thing that caught my attention was the fact that everything in the story relates to each other. When I was first reading I had no idea that all of these women’s stories were related. I thought this book was going to be something along the lines of Chicken Soup for the Soul books where a bunch of people’s stories are all told but none of them relate. When we talked about the book in class the first day I realized that while reading this book the reader needs to pay very close attention to everything you read because you may miss something very important. Everything Toni Morrison writes in this book is important to some aspect of the book, she does not just throw in details just to take up space in the book. Also all of the characters that are in this book that are not the main characters play a roll in one of the women’s lives, such as Deek. I would have never guessed that Connie had an affair with Deek for a while until I read the Consolata chapter. Another thing that stuck out to me was the fact that K.D. had an affair with Arnett for a while, and then was one of the main guys to come in and kill the women of the convent in the first chapter. This is so strange to me because if these men were having affairs with some of these women, I would have thought that they would of had some sort of feelings towards the women and even if they hate each other, I would have never thought that they would go and kill the women.
Two things catch my attention the most in Paradise. The first is that the men of the town are so so threatened by the Convent. They are in such fear that one day these women will realize together that they CAN live without men. The men fear that the women will pick themselves up one day and feel happier in the Convent lifestyle and will do everything in their power to never live amongst them again. As low as the men feel of these women, they feel very threatened at the same time, and that is why they are so unhappy with this situation. A second thing that stood out to me is that Connie is going through a string of emotions. She is in the Convent and is sick of helping and doing everything for the women, but at the same time she is lonely without them and needs there company and warmth. She runs the women who all of the people of Ruby dislike. With alcohol she copes with them and that comes to her advantage. Because she learns she can deal with them it leads to her setting rules for these women. This makes the Convent a structured and ordered place where yes Connie orders them what to do, but not in the way the men would. She disciplines the women and it brings them all together with strong feelings. They are content with this order of living for now and it brings them together and gives them al a sense of hope for now and for the future.
At the beginning of the text, nothing seemed to be catching my attention, because it seemed like Morrison was throwing us into the middle of the plot. It seems as though there is too much information given at once without much explanation. As the chapters go on, pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, like the introduction of the twins, Deacon and Steward, who can be connected to the twins in the beginning of the chapter Ruby described as being “once identical”. Also, as more characters were being introduced, the only information that was given was the family ties and their part in the family tree of Ruby. There was nothing to give a specific personality to each person, just a name and a connection with another character. Some characters were even just introduced, and never mentioned of again.
As the text goes on, the differences between the townspeople of Ruby and the Covenant seem to dwindle down. The problems that the town has are very similar to the problems of the Covenant. Morrison also makes it a point that without the Covenant, Ruby would have been in trouble. It seems that all of the townspeople dislike the women of the Covenant, therefore, there is a connection between all of the townspeople that make them realize that they are functional together. They come together to dismiss the women of the Covenant from the wedding, and discover that they all can join against a common enemy.
At first nothing really was catching my attention since everything was just confusing me. But when I started seeing that every character and their stories are tied to pretty much everyone else in the book, it caught my attention. After reading the first chapter and seeing that the men killed the Convent women, I wanted to know why. At first I thought the men had a reason to do such a thing but once I finished I realized that they didn’t. That they just did it because they could. What really caught my attention and surprised me was the ending. How the men hurt the women and how the town was shocked. I wouldn’t have thought that the town of Ruby would care for the men’s action since they never said anything to them either way. IT was nice knowing that Lone got everyone together to try to save the Convent women from getting hurt. The last thing that caught my attention was when Roger went to the Convent after the incident, to pick up all the “dead” bodies and found no bodies. This made me think of all kinds of things until I finished the book completely and found out what really happened to the Convent women, that day the men from Ruby went to attack them.
First, I will admit that I have not yet finished the book. I am still somewhere in the middle, but much in this book is catching my attention.
At first, I was apprehensive because the story seemed to have no plot line, as well as no meaning. However, as I finished reading consolata the story is starting to make sense to me. Now all of the women in the convent, those who have had chapters, are revealed to me. I get a better sense of whom these people are and I can start to see why they are important.
I feel as though each woman is connected, but not by any direct means. They have all had a troubled past that they seem desperate to escape from. Similar between them all is that not one of the women says that they are escaping, or want to. They all just arrive at the covenant and never leave. What catches me most during the scenes with the women is when consolata makes her dinner speech. Consolata wants the women to atone for what they have done. However, if they are trying to better themselves what makes the men come and kill them? It is this question that I am most anxious to get to. To me this covenant is just a house full of women. There is nothing secret about them, only that they seem to have troubled pasts.
One thing I feel that I have to say is that that the townspeople of ruby are really starting to disgust me. They are a group of people, all probably related who feel that they need to keep the blood in the family. This just all seems ridiculous to me, as well as the incest. In addition, although this obviously does not happen, I wish that maybe the townspeople would have been killed instead of the covenant women. To me these women are much more interesting and likeable.
Right off the bat, reading Paradise simply challenged me. The type of reading I am use are the “to the point” or “brief” style because I am an accounting major, but I cant always get what I want. By reading Paradise, I was able to change my perspective as I read the book even though it took me time to get use to it. From the beginning to where we are as a class now, I think many of the main ideas Toni Morrison wants to portray are buried under her unusual writing style. The topic of inclusion and exclusion, I believe is a theme Toni Morrison buried underneath all of her detail and figurative writing style. I strongly believe and agree in what Toni Morrison is trying to say. By making ourselves exclusive, we automatically exclude others from our circle. A clear example of the exclusive/inclusive theme would be the gap between the rich and the poor in our everyday society. How many times have we seen people change drastically possibly overnight once they start making the big bucks? Yes, Toni Morrison’s style of writing is difficult to follow being that it is non-linear, but after I comprehensively break down the context layer after layer, her idea starts to reveal itself. Reading Paradise has its positive and negative effect on me. The positive would be that I was able to read a different style of writing and “better” my reading skills. The negative would be the fact that it was a bit confusion. Again, this is not my style of reading, but I can’t always get what I want.
As I reach to the middle of Paradise by Toni Morrison many of the questions I had before start to become clear. What really catches my attention is the fact that Connie has now set rules for the women in the Convent. By Connie wanting to be called Consolata Sosa it shows she is ready for a change and ready to be in control. Connie although dislikes the other women in the Convent she seeks to discipline them and make sure they set goals. This action caused by Connie will give the women the confidence they need and the power they need.
Connie has a problem of being alone and I fear that if the women ever become so strong and decide to leave the convent that Connie will be alone once again. Connie who lets the women stay in the convent lives and sleeps in the wine cellar definitely shows how isolated she is. But when she automatically wants to set rules and become in control of the women and the convent depicts how she wants to be involved and see changes among the women and herself. Connie takes a major step in setting rules but when she asks the women to draw about why they are in the convent it brings the women closer together. This is the first time, I can actually see the women not fighting and actually hope there will be a good change in the convent. Connie is bringing about a new life for the women in the convent and she is setting good vibes and morals for the women. Now I wait eagerly to see how much the women change and how much power Connie actually has.
So far Paradise has done a terrific job and screwing with my basic knowledge of reading a book linearly. I’ve decided to interpret the book on more of a metaphoric basis rather than as a literal coherent reading. In doing so I’ve come to the conclusion that the women represent the men of Ruby’s sin because the men (especially Deek) make an attempt to rid themselves of their sin by murdering the women in the convent. The men of Ruby are also the reason why most of the women of the convent are there in the first place. As a result of being involved with these men, Deek, Stewart, K.D. and [Carlos], the women remain in the convent as a safe haven; however, the men see this as an act of rebellion against God and religion. This idea of using religion as a means of reducing the women in the convent to evil “witches” is something more in line with Puritanical views. However, the people of Ruby are not as nearly as religious as the Puritans during the time of the Salem Witch Trials- however this seems like a witch trial- without the trial. It would appear that the men are in fact being blasphemous by tainting their religion- using it as an excuse to commit horrid acts that are not permissible in the Bible. Relying on religion as a scapegoat for assuming control is the antithesis of the meaning of religion- one should not use it as a tool for their wrongdoing but as a tool to teach piety. In any case, the religious contradiction in the book certainly grabs my attention and the idea that the women in the convent are the sins of the men in and outside of Ruby. Therefore it makes perfect sense to eradicate one’s sin through the act of murder.
I think what is catching my attention the most in this book is the fact that even though Connie dislikes pretty much all of the women that she lets live in the convent, she still lets them stay. I think this is because, Connie knows what it feels like to have to runaway and hide. She is just so irked by her loneliness that she just wants to be around people, even if she hates them. She also uses alcohol as an escape, like many people do. She wants to escape her lonesomeness. It is human nature to want to be around other human beings and some will do anything to gain that feeling. I feel that if I were in Connie’s situation, I would also let all these troubled women hide out in the convent also. Loneliness is one of the hardest feelings to deal with. It is so easy to get caught up in each of these characters lives, because each character is described with precision, and drawn into the suspense. The themes of these women’s lives are provocative universal. However, I find the character of Connie to be the one who catches my attention the most. She is this mysterious woman who lives down in the wine cellar of the convent. She lets any woman who is struggling in their private lives to come and live and stay for as long as they want. Connie also goes this change where she takes charge of the house and starts making demands of the women. The most interesting part of her chapter, in my opinion, is when she tells the women she does not want to be called Connie anymore, that she will now go by her full name, Consolata. After that I really felt things were about to change in the convent.
Almost any human being needs a place to hide at some point in life. It can be for couple of minutes, couple of days or maybe years. Routine of life is never stopped and the break from it is a necessity at certain points. While we speak on hiding due to a choice, there are people who it is not in their power to choose. They just need to hide, disappear. The community is a prominent component in these issues. The society builds our character and shapes it. Our desires are the society desires. Are they?
The convent in Paradise of Toni Morrison is a shelter of girls, who were collected or found their way to it in the course of time. Nonetheless, they all have a common ground – they running away to hide. Why is do they need to hide? They hide from the society and the community of their own town or similar characteristic of Rubi.
Rubi and the convent share some similar points. They are both small places. Rubi is a small town with small community, while the convent is a few people. Nevertheless, everyone knows each other. Moreover, they both share the same desire to be separate from where they are. The people of Rubi wanted to be separate from Haven and built a ‘utopian community’, while the convent’s women wanted to be separated from Rubi and the external world.
However, they have also different points. The convent is a shelter, which in some way functions as a protective place for the women there, while in the same moment Rubi is a source of alienation. Moreover, Rubi is a prejudice place. Its people run away from prejudice and eventually become one; however, the convent’s people accept everyone without any distinguishing.
The society is a prominent component in our life. It is the way and how we live it. In other words the society define the meaning and pure the content to our life. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that not everyone fits to the desires and norms of the society. Therefore, it is our great goal to protect those, who really need it, those who we ourselves created their problems. Can we really do that?
Loneliness can be a very difficult thing for some people to cope with. For some people, they are able to cope with the solitude and go about their lives like there is no problem. But others instead feel a very depressing atmosphere all the time and are desperate for company. Connie in Paradise has a situation that is similar to this. This takes place inside the convent. Connie is usually by her lonesome tending to herself while the other women in the convent tend to come in once in a while for Connie to take care of them and then to just take off. Connie seems to only be able to cope with them while she is drunk. But despite this, even when she is sober and can’t stand how the other women are incapable of helping themselves, she still ends up missing the company whenever they leave. But then she decides to make sure that the same company doesn’t leave her. One day she decides to tell the rest of them that she would be running the others’ lives now by telling the other women how to run their lives. From this action, I saw it as her way of making sure that she wouldn’t be lonely again. By telling them how she would be controlling the women’s lives inside the convent from now on and if they didn’t like it they could leave, she made sure she would always have her company since the others were too nervous to leave after she told them. It was a desperate move by her part that would pay off since the other women would become used to spending a lot of time with her as the days would go by.
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