From the 2 sets of questions below (A&B) please answer a total of 3 of that you will pick, however you must respond to at least 1 questionfrom each set. Each answer needs to be at least 300 words.
The questions are based on Toni Morrison’s Book Home, and the attached article by Evelyn Jaffe Schreiber titled, Repressed Memory, Testimony, and Agency in Toni Morrison’s
1. The article states that there are three levels of trauma Frank must work through- familial, personal, and societal. Do you think he successfully addresses his trauma in each of these areas? Why or why not?
2. Cee makes her first quilt at the end of the novel and that quilt will serve an important function in the final pages. The article discusses how quilt making has functioned as a way for women to “construct their own discourse”. How does this concept fit into Home, and specifically Cee? In Beloved, how does Baby Suggs’s quilt, colorless save for one square, relate to this idea?
3. Morrison claimed that Frank ‘talked back’ to her while she was writing Home, and that this was the first time one of her narrators had confronted her as an author. Why do you think Frank needed to speak up and correct Morrison’s writing?
4. When Frank finally shares the trauma of his family’s relocation to Lotus with the reader, he seems to best remember the material hardships, such as his torn shoe and the stale and moldy food they had to eat. Why do these particular aspects of the journey stick out to him? Why is material deprivation the easiest to recall, or perhaps the easiest to share with the reader?
5. The article draws our attention to the “zoot-suited man” that Frank has sensed following him throughout his journey to Lotus. The author of the article interprets him to represent Frank’s repressed self. Do you agree with this interpretation? If so, why do you think Frank has placed his figurative self in the body of a man wearing a suit?
6. On page 726, Schreiber talks about the importance of forming a personal internal narrative to healing from trauma. Frank has returned from Korea– where he had numerous exceedingly traumatic experiences– back to the United States, only to experience more trauma due to “societal degradation and devaluing of Black lives” (729). Is it possible for Frank to form this personal narrative while he is still living in a society where he, his family, and his overall community are being oppressed and murdered?
7. Morrison says that when writing Home, she could feel Frank talking back to her and correcting her story throughout. Connecting this to the idea discussed in the reading of the second self that is formed through trauma, where does Frank’s voice come from? Even though she did not have Frank’s experiences, Morrison has experienced trauma by racism in America. Could Frank’s voice speaking up be Morrison’s traumatized self? Based on what we know about Morrison’s personal experiences, is there evidence of this in Home?
8. Schreiber cites Judith Herman when explaining that trauma survivors need to “testify in order to work through trauma so that traumatic memories are ‘not the whole story about you’” (730). Frank has compounded traumatic experiences specific to being a black man in the army fighting in Korea and a black man living in American society. Based on the theories about collective trauma and repressed memory discussed in the reading, what would be the best way for Frank to testify about his unique trauma in a community where he will no longer feel it’s a “whole story” about him.
9. On page 732, Schreiber discusses Frank’s compounding traumatic experiences, stating that his experiences of abandonment “augment[s] the racial and war trauma Frank later experiences.” Cee does not have war trauma, but faces other hardships as a woman. However, Frank and Cee share childhood trauma and inherited familial trauma. How might their individual traumas augment or otherwise affect one another differently?
10. Schreiber cites Herman’s three stages of trauma recovery: “establishing safety, reconstructing the trauma story, and restoring the connection between survivors and their community”. Frank and Cee have been constants in one another’s lives, and throughout Home, we see the evolution of their relationship from surrogate parent-child to their sibling relationship. Frank and Cee both lose many different people throughout their lives, yet they never lose one another. Why is their relationship so important to their recovery, and what role does it play?
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