Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

Degree Name




First Advisor

Professor Elizabeth Higgins


This study examines the critical reception of Toni Morrison's novels from 1970 to 1988. During this eighteen-year period, Toni l1orrison published five novels: The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981), and Beloved (1987). In this study the criticism is divided into five periods, each beginning with the publication of a novel.

This study contends that Toni Morrison's novels draw on three convergent literary traditions for ideas, meanings and structures. Consequently, as the critics respond to the novels, a pattern of criticism emerges from each tradition. The critical responses to the novels can be placed within three schools of criticism--those responses arising from Euro-Americans, those arising from Afro-Americans, and those arising from feminists drawn from both groups. Each school of criticism reflects a structure of beliefs and values which transcend literary judgments. Each critic's response grows naturally out of his respective tradition. Consequently, this study can be placed within the significantly large body of literature which suggests the sociological nature of criticism.

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