Periodizing Toni Morrison's work from 'The Bluest Eye' to 'Jazz': the importance of 'Tar Baby.'

by Malin Walther Pereira

It is a mark of an author's status as "major" when we begin to periodize their work. William Faulkner, Adrienne Rich, William Butler Yeats, Gwendolyn Brooks, and T.S. Eliot are among the major authors for whose ouevres periods have been suggested. Toni Morrison's body of work is large enough, and her achievements notable enough, that it seems appropriate to periodize her work. While literary criticism of Toni Morrison's novels has generally acknowledged differences between her early and more recent work, there is a more radical shift in her oeuvre than has been articulated. Morrison's complex relationship to colonization is radically transformed from her early to more recent work. Periodizing Morrison's work in relationship to her process of decolonization clarifies differences between her early and more recent periods and stresses her development across her oeuvre. This approach also gives a central role to Tar Baby, a role not accessible within current frames.

Such a project--periodizing Morrison--has profound implications for both teaching and research. When Morrison's work is taught as a whole, as in a major author's course, periodization will affect the way in which the novels are grouped conceptually, the selection of themes and literary techniques to be investigated, even determining which novels would not be taught once her body of work expands further. When one of her novels is taught as part of a survey course in American fiction, women's writing, or African American literature, periodization will affect which one of her novels would be selected as representative. In terms of research, periodization will provide a focus to the discourse and encourage a shared vocabulary instead of the disparate theoretical discourses now in place.(1)

What I want to begin here is a call/response dynamic on the issue of Morrison's canon and its periods, and I hope my call generates many responses. The conversation on periodizing Morrison should be exciting and multi-voiced; I do not intend the periodization I probe exciting and multi-voiced; I do not intend the periodization. I propose here as a final product.

One of the central concerns throughout Morrison's work is colonization.(2) Her early work struggles with the effects of colonization on African American individuals and the community, while her later work moves into an exploration of decolonized African American culture and history. In this context, her fourth novel, Tar Baby, assumes a rich significance. Understanding the importance of Tar Baby to Morrison's distancing from the colonizing effects of Euro-American culture is central to understanding how the novel divides her early and later works.

Tar Baby seems an unlikely choice for pre-eminence in the Morrison canon. It is, after all, the least admired, least researched, and least taught of her novels. It has been called her "most problematic and unresolved novel" (Peterson 471) and has received little critical attention generally, and virtually no critical attention in the past five years.(3) Few of us teach it, choosing the shorter, "woman-oriented" Sula, or the richer, male quest patterned Song of Solomon, or the current favorite, the cathartic Beloved. Yet perhaps Tar Baby seems problematic and unsatisfying to many of us precisely because it functions as a transitional text in Morrison's oeuvre. Viewed in this light, Tar Baby's ambivalences, refusal of answers, and weaknesses in plot and characterization reveal tensions in Morrison's process as a writer; the novel offers maximum insight into both her periods.

Tar Baby's central concern is colonization.(4) The island hierarchy at the beginning of the novel reinscribes the classic colonial schema, with the white colonizer, Philadelphia exile Valerian Street, presiding over a household empire that includes a beautiful wife, Margaret, a black "assistant," Jadine, black servants, Ondine and Sydney, and occasional employees from the island, Gideon and Therese. The arrival of a black American drifter, Son, disrupts the household hierarchy and challenges Jadine's uncritical acceptance of white European culture and values. Tar Baby thus constitutes a working through for Morrison of issues of colonization and culture and provides a key focal point in understanding Morrison's relationship to colonization in both her early and later periods.

Focusing on Morrison's struggle with the colonizing effects of Euro-American culture,on African Americans might seem to eclipse other themes, such as African American folklore or double-consciousness. Yet a decolonizing frame for Morrison's oeuvre provides a way of connecting concerns that at first seem more central; such a frame can account for both the double-consciousness in The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon, as well as the African American folklore and musical emphases of Beloved and Jazz. Likewise, focusing on Morrison's decolonizing process also integrates an understanding of her emergence as a writer during the Black Arts Movement (approximately 1964-1974) and its concern with decolonizing the black psyche. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, focuses intently on the colonizing effects of white female beauty on a black girl and her community. In her 1993 Afterword to the novel, Morrison explicitly ties the issue of beauty in The Bluest Eye to the politics of racial beauty and identity in the 1960s. She writes:

the reclamation of racial beauty in the sixties stirred these thoughts

[about beauty], made me think about the necessity for the claim. Why,

although reviled by others, could this beauty not be taken for granted

within the community?.... The assertion of racial beauty [in the novel]

was...against the damaging internalization of immutable inferiority

originating in an outside gaze. (210)

Rejecting that internalization of the (white) outside gaze was part of the project of the Black Arts Movement. Essays such as Ron Karenga's "Black Cultural Nationalism," Larry Neal's "The Black Arts Movement," and Morrison's own "What the Black Woman Thinks About Women's Lib"--all written during this period--each discuss the black struggle to be free of white ideas, aesthetic or otherwise. A representative poem of the period, Don L. Lee's "The Primitive," illustrates the dominant Black Arts theme of rejecting colonization in the lines,


christianized us.

raped our minds with:

T.V. & straight hair

Reader's Digest & bleaching creams,

tarzan & jungle jim,


european history & promises.

Those alien concepts

of whi-teness (297)

During the Black Arts Movement writers delineated the impact of the cultural colonization of the black community by Euro-American culture and values and actively pursued a black aesthetic. Using a decolonization framework for periodizing Morrison's work thus embraces both her recurring concerns as well as her literary origins dur-braces both her recurring concerns as well as her literary origins during the Black Arts period.

Morrison's first four books, The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, and Tar Baby, constitute Morrison's struggle with colonization, both for her characters and their communities, as well as in her own writing. We can see this pattern in the dialogical way in which Morrison frames her early novels: The Bluest Eye is framed with a deconstructive dialogue with the Dick and Jane children's books; Sula, with the Bible; Song of Solomon, with the American capitalist success myth. With Tar Baby's explicit identification of colonization as a central issue, Morrison finally breaks free from the need to focus primarily on white ideas, aesthetic or otherwise; following Tar Baby, Morrison begins publishing a trilogy, of which we now have seen Beloved and Jazz published, a trilogy focused on black history and written primarily within an African American cultural perspective. In contrast to the concern with white frames in the early novels, both Beloved and Jazz take as their frames historically documented events in black lives: Beloved, on the case of Margaret Garner; Jazz, on a photo taken by James Van Der Zee that appears in The Harlem Book of the Dead.

One of the many thematic concerns that can be clarified by a periodization of Morrison's work based on her struggle with colonization is her treatment of beauty throughout her work.(5) In the novels before Tar Baby, Morrison repeatedly depicts black female characters engulfed by white ideals of beauty. In The Bluest Eye, Pecola's desire for blue eyes reflects a community absorbed by white ideas of what is beautiful. References to idols of white female beauty, Greta Garbo, Ginger Rogers, Jean Harlow, and to the child icon of beauty, Shirley Temple, bespeak an obsession with a standard of white female beauty that, in turn, renders black women and girls invisible. Pecola's insanity at the end of the novel mirrors, Morrison suggests, a cultural insanity that threatens the black community's identity and strength. Likewise, in Sula, Nel is raised in accordance with white ideas of beauty. She is told to pull on her nose to make it "nice," and endures the hot comb in her mother's pursuit of smooth hair for her (55). In Song of Solomon, the Hagar subplot revisits the maddening effects of internalized white standards of female beauty on black women. When Hagar sees the new object of Milkman's affections, a girl with light skin and smooth, long hair, she begins an obsessive downward spiral, attempting to buy and "put on" those markers of beauty more in accordance with received notions of white-identified beauty. Part of Milkman's quest in the novel is to come to an appreciation and acceptance of a beauty based on black ideals, as reflected in his taking a lock of Hagar's hair with him upon returning to Not Doctor Street.

In Tar Baby, Morrison's struggle with the colonization of African American beauty by white notions of beauty comes to a head in her portrait of a colonized black beauty, Jadine. Unlike the previous three female characters, who are hurt by, struggle with, and ultimately succumb to internalized views of beauty, Jadine is thoroughly happy with a definition of beauty based on white standards, because she fits it. In fact, Jadine struggles not against a white-defined standard of female beauty, but against a black-defined beauty, as represented by the woman in yellow who haunts her dreams, because it reminds her of her inauthenticity. The character in Tar Baby who is personally hurt by white standards of beauty, Alma Estee, as exemplified in her grotesque russet wig, is a marginal character. Thus, Morrison makes an important shift in her handling of the ideas of beauty and colonization in Tar Baby, for by moving away from focusing on the personal devastation caused in black women by internalized ideas of white female beauty to instead concentrating on a black woman who fully identifies with and achieves those internalized standards, Morrison shifts her concern away from the personal toward the cultural. Jadine represents the cultural costs to the African American community of blacks who identify with white culture to the extent that they reject their own. Jadine is not absorbed only by white culture's definition of beauty, she fully identifies with European cultural values about art, nature, family, and money.

Tar Baby also represents a departure from Morrison's earlier depictions of beauty in its plurality of beauty ideals. While in the earlier novels the idea of beauty seems to be dominated by white standards, in Tar Baby Morrison represents and elaborates on alternatives. First, several types of female beauty are represented: a white female beauty, Margaret; a white-identified black female beauty, Jadine; and a black-identified black female beauty, the woman in yellow. Second, characters discuss differing aesthetic values throughout the novel, with Jadine favoring Picasso and hating the swamp, with Valerian preferring his hot-house blooms to the tropical vegetation outdoors, and with the emperor butterflies deploring the sealskin coat Jadine adores. There are aesthetic and cultural choices available to the characters in this novel, even for the white beauty, Margaret, who by the end of the novel chooses natural beauty over her previous high-class, artificial beauty object persona. Jadine chooses to reject the swamp women and Son, and decides to return to her life in Europe, and thus chooses to remain colonized.

By placing this issue of beauty and aesthetic value in the context of colonization, and by making colonization a choice rather than an inescapable fact (once your options are made available), Morrison is then free in Tar Baby to reject colonization by white ideas and choose a decolonized stance. When Jadine's plane takes off and she leaves the novel, Morrison in effect says goodbye to colonization in her work and turns the novel's attention to the black cultural mythos of the blind horsemen and the tar baby folktale. Morrison's work after Tar Baby continues this decolonized focus on black history and culture. Morrisons primary dialogue with and critique of white culture becomes tertiary with Tar Baby..

Paralleling this general shift in emphasis between Morrison's early and later periods, Beloved departs from Morrison's first four novels in its complete disinterest in the colonization of black female beauty by white ideals. The main female characters simply don't think about whether they fit prescribed notions of beauty, nor are they held to a beauty standard within or without the community. The two instances where beauty becomes an issue are minor, and unrelated to colonization. First, Paul D, who had initially found the scars on Sethe's back beautiful, reacts negatively after having sex with her and thinks her back is a "revolting clump of scars" (21). Both he and Sethe are having doubts and thinking of how little the other measures up. Second, Beloved is described as beautiful, which is part of her magical effect on others. Both of these are quite unlike the trap of white-identified female beauty elaborated on in the early novels. Thus, the lack of the female beauty issue in Beloved supports reading Morrison's post-Tar Baby work as decolonized.

However, it could be argued that Beloved does not reflect a post-Tar Baby decolonized stance because it constitutes Morrison's dialogue with and critique of white versions of the history of slavery. Beloved certainly offers an alternative version of the slavery experience, written as it is from the perspective of African Americans, both free and enslaved. But Beloved is not focused on correcting white versions of slavery, of Margaret Garner, or even on depicting the horrors of slavery, although it does, in effect, do these; instead, the central focus in the novel is on the inner realities and interpersonal relationships of the central black characters, while the white characters remain marginal. Furthermore, Beloved's (and Jazz's) focus on primary philosophical issues such as memory, identity, time, and love, issues that are not circumscribed by any dominant cultural frame, suggests a turning away in her later work from a primary focus on cultural colonization.

In Jazz, Morrison picks up the theme of beauty but treats it from a decolonized perspective by signifying on it.(6) In many ways, Jazz is about signification. The epigraph, "I am the name of the sound / and the sound of the name. / I am the sign of the letter / and the designation of the division," from The Nag Hammadi, frames the novel's playing on the division between signs and their referents. Joe and Violet's last name is Trace, taken by Joe after being told his parents "disappeared without a trace" (124), surely signifying on Jacques Derrida's concept of the trace left by the absent sign in the process of signification.(7) Signs proliferate throughout the novel: Dorcas' photo on the mantel is a sign of the dead girl, a sign which in its differance (to differ and defer) marks the trace of her presence in Joe and Violet's minds as well as her absence in death, and which signifies differently depending on the beholder (12); Joe tells of waiting to learn his mother's identity, asking that "All she had to do was give him a sign" and he would know it was the wild woman who was his mother. Morrison has fun in Jazz with the proliferation of meanings offered by the process of signification, as in the case of Malvonne, who, upon discovering the sack of mail her nephew had stolen, reads the letters and makes additions that alter the senders' intended significance (40-44). Under signification, meaning, while multiple, cannot finally be determined. Cause and effect, arche and telos, become separated when signs are at play. While indeterminacy can be disorienting, there is a freedom and lightheartedness associated with signifying. One is free of oppressive meanings; one escapes being determined by a final, transcendental signified.

From this post-modern, decolonized stance, the novels of Morrison's later period revoice and revise those of her earlier period. For example, Morrison signifies in Jazz on the meanings of female beauty in her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in which the white ideals of beauty were oppressive determinants of Pecola's identity. We can say of The Bluest Eye that signs of white beauty throughout the culture were internalized by the black community. We can say that, according to that discourse of signs, Pecola was rendered invisible. We can even say that the sign system of beauty (along with the rape by her father) drove her mad. We cannot make such statements about beauty in Jazz. In Jazz, Morrison signifies on the signs from The Bluest Eye, but her characters and the novel escape being determined by them. They remain at play, never resting with a final signified. And that breaks their power.

The first sign in Jazz that Morrison is signifying on The Bluest Eye from a decolonized position comes in Morrison's repetition and revised use of the narrator Claudia's opening comment, "Quiet as it's kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941" (5). In Jazz, this phrase reappears in the first section in the narrator's disclosure about Violet: "but quiet as it's kept, she did try to steal that baby although there is no way to prove it" (17). Such repetition of a phrase might seem coincidental, were it not for Morrison's newly published Afterword to the 1993 edition of The Bluest Eye, in which she discusses at length her use of that opening sentence in The Bluest Eye as representative of her writing at that time (211-214). As the Afterword makes clear, Morrison is looking back with a critical eye at her early work, noting its limitations, and, in Jazz, playing with its possibilities.

Morrison also signifies in Jazz on the color and musical motifs of The Bluest Eye. The blue eyes Pecola longs for are not only blue because they represent a white, Aryan ideal, but because her desire for them and the madness that brings is a theme suitable for a blues song. As Ralph Ellison defines it, the blues

is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal

experience alive in one's aching consciousness, to finger its jagged

grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by

squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism. As a form, the

blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed

lyrically. (78-79)

Pecola has the blues and cannot sing them away. She is "the bluest I." In Jazz, however, the blues is transposed into jazz, which, while grounded in the "blues impulse" that acknowledges the painful realities of a complex experience, transforms blues materials into something different. As Craig Werner explains the relationship between the blues and jazz impulses, "the jazz impulse provides a way of exploring implications, of realizing the relational possibilities of the (blues) self, and of expanding the consciousness of self and community through a process of continual improvisation" (xxi-xxii). In Jazz, Morrison, like any jazz artist, whose work is, according to Ellison, "an endless improvisation upon traditional materials" (234), takes her earlier, blues materials and improvisationally explores their implications and envisions alternative possibilities. While the tragedy of Joe and Violet's love triangle is the stuff of a classic blues song, it becomes a far more complex, free-wheeling jazz piece. Violet, unlike Pecola, is not "the bluest V although she has the blues; instead, she is violet, a color suggesting a more nuanced understanding of the complex realities before her.(8)

Morrison signifies directly on the issues of beauty and colorism in Jazz in her depictions of Joe, Violet, Golden Gray, and Dorcas and adopts a decolonized stance toward their involvement with beauty ideals. Joe and Violet are both purveyors of beauty ideals: he, with his case of "Cleopatra" beauty products for black women; she, as the neighborhood hairdresser who presses, trims, and curls black hair. Both are haunted, in a sense, by a past involving Golden Gray, the white-appearing mulatto offspring of Miss Vera, who Violet's grandmother True Belle helped raise and adored and whose encounter with Joe's probable mother, Wild, has been passed on to Joe by Hunter's Hunter. Beautiful, blond, elegant Golden Gray is a trace in the novel, a trace of the allure of white-identified beauty ideals, as well as a trace of plantation mythology in American literature that plays out in Faulkner's work.(9) Having rejected the colonizing plantation frame in Tar Baby, Morrison in Jazz takes a decolonized position and jams on the myth.(10) Golden Gray, like Faulkner for Morrison, still has influence and is a predecessor for Violet, but no longer colonizes Violet's mind. Near the end of Jazz, Violet tries to explain to Felice what had gone wrong in her life; how she had wished she were "White. Light. Young again" (208). Violet traces this to the stories True Belle had told her about Golden Gray: "He lived inside my mind. But I didn't know it till I got here. The two of us. Had to get rid of it" (208). Felice asks how she did that, and Violet replies, "Killed her. Then I killed the me that killed her." Felice asks, "Who's left?" Violet answers, "Me" (209). Morrison describes here a process of decolonization in which Violet must destroy the internalized white beauty ideal that's in her mind, as well as the destructive part of her that killed it.(11) What's left is a decolonized self.

The depiction of Dorcas also signifies on the traces of white beauty ideals in the black community from a decolonized perspective in which those standards ultimately lack power. Dorcas has the right signs of "beauty": "creamy" skin tone and hair the narrator suspects she "didn't need to straighten" (5). And Dorcas is very involved in beauty as something valuable. Felice relates how Dorcas's reaction to the photo of her dead parents was that "Dorcas couldn't get over how good looking they both were" (200). In fact, according to Felice, "She was always talking about who was good looking and who wasn't" (200). But Dorcas's signs of and involvement with beauty don't, finally, signify that she is beautiful, Morrison points out. As Felice muses, "Dorcas should have been prettier than she was. She just missed. She had all the ingredients of pretty too. Long hair, wavy, half good, half bad. Light skinned. Never used skin bleach. Nice shape. But it missed somehow. If you looked at each thing, you would admire that thing--the hair, the color, the shape. All together it didn't fit" (201). Just as blue eyes won't make Pecola beautiful according to a white-infused beauty ideal, neither will having all the signs of it make Dorcas pretty. Dorcas, as her name implies, is a dorky schoolgirl with pimples.(12) Furthermore, the power of the white-identified beauty attributes Dorcas does have is substantially diminished in Jazz, as compared to The Bluest Eye, because Dorcas is dead.

The signifying on beauty in Jazz breaks the power of beauty over the characters and their community because of their self-reflexiveness and sense of having choices, two markers of a decolonized self exemplary of Morrison's recent work to date. Ultimately, Joe and Violet become aware of their issues and choose not to remain stuck on them. Joe, for example, when Felice asks if he is still stuck on Dorcas, responds, "Stuck? Well, if you mean did I like about what I felt about her. I guess I'm stuck to that" (212). Joe explicitly states it is not Dorcas and her signs of beauty he is stuck on; rather, he now understands it is the issues from his past he projected onto her that he must handle. By the end of the novel Joe chooses Violet, although he had not done so before. Making choices is a motif the novel returns to again and again: Violet chooses Joe (23), although Joe didn't choose Violet (30); Joe chooses Dorcas (135), although when Acton chooses her (216), she dumps Joe. And Golden Gray, when he meets his father, Hunters Hunter, hears him demand, "Be what you want--white or black. Choose. But if you choose black, you got to act black, meaning draw your manhood up" (173). In Jazz, Morrison's characters choose their affinities.

Morrison's central concern in her later work with self-reflexive African American characters focused on issues of identity, memory, and love differs radically from her focus in her early work with black characters' struggles with the effects of psychological and cultural colonization. Tracing Morrison's treatment of beauty makes the differences between her early and later work salient; Tar Baby marks a key shift in her oeuvre between these two periods. Such a periodization of Morrison's work recommends we begin teaching Tar Baby as a central novel in her canon, a novel that functions as the hinge high-lighting the transition between periods. Likewise, further research on Tar Baby could profitably trace how other concerns shift between Morrison's early and more recent work.

I would like to thank the students in my course on Toni Morrison at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the fall of 1994 for forcing me to explain how I saw Morrison's periods and for adding to the evidence. I would also like to thank Craig Werner for his--as always--helpful criticism of an earlier version of this essay.


(1.) While periodization may seem a rather traditional endeavor, in light of how post-structuralism and ideas of intertextuality have broken down the specific locations of texts (author, date of publication, nationality, etc.), it seems to me a worthwhile means of engaging the complexity of major authors who have written a body of diverse texts. By foregrounding a key framework, periodization can account for seemingly radical differences among an author's works. Of course, one possible limitation is that a marginal thread may be over-emphasized, but such claims are usually corrected in the critical debate.

(2.) Although Morrison herself has not used a post-colonial theoretical vocabulary in her interviews or essays about her work, much of her non-fictional work concerns issues of colonization for African Americans. Early essays such as "What the Black Woman Thinks About Women's Lib" and "Behind the Making of The Black Book" center on her belief in the importance of black resistance to internalizing white culture and, instead, focusing on African American cultural values. Such a concern also appears in her later non-fiction, such as the essay "City Limits, Village Values," thereby indicating the issue of colonization as an on-going thread throughout her work. A recent application of postcolonial theory to Morrison's fiction is found in Homi K. Bhabha's The Location of Culture.

(3.) In Debbie Mix's bibliography of Morrison criticism, Tar Baby has a mere sixteen articles, only three of which have been published in the past five years.

(4.) See Walther, "Toni Morrison's Tar Baby: Re-Figuring the Colonizer's Aesthetics," for a fuller discussion of the novel's treatment of colonization.

(5.) For a fuller explanation of Morrison's treatment of beauty in The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Tar Baby see Walther, "Out of Sight: Toni Morrison's Revision of Beauty" and "Toni Morrison's Tar Baby: Re-Figuring the Colonizer's Aesthetics."

(6.) For a full definition of the term signifyin(g) see Gates. Eckard's essay offers a basic discussion of signifying in Jazz.

(7.) While this essay was under consideration at MELUS, Philip Page's fine article on Jazz's affinities with Derridean concepts appeared in African American Review. See it for a detailed discussion of differance, the trace, and the breach in Jazz.

(8.) Such a signifying on the color blue--and the blues--also occurs in Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo." Thanks to Craig Werner for pointing out this echo to me.

(9.) In Playing the Changes, Werner asserts that the Golden Gray section of Jazz functions as a "Faulknerian fable" (301).

(10.) Mbalia suggests that the Golden Gray section of the novel is the "jam session" of the novel (640).

(11.) Violet's killing-off of an ideologically-infected self echoes Virginia Woolf's essay "Professions for Women," where she describes killing the Victorian ideal of womanhood--the "angel in the house"--that was in her head and kept her from writing. Note, too, the shift in pronouns in Violet's statement, in which she first refers to "him" (Golden Gray) and then refers to killing "her," more closely echoing Woolf's figuration. This conflation of Faulkner and Woolf in Violet's psychological killing of the colonized self is especially interesting in light of Morrison's master's thesis on the two authors.

(12.) Thanks to Lucinda Ramsey for pointing out this slang parallel in Dorcas's name to me.

Works Cited

Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994.

Eckard, Paula Gallant. "The Interplay of Music, Language, and Narrative in Toni Morrison's Jazz." CLA Journal 38.1 (1994): 11-19.

Ellison, Ralph. "Richard Wright's Blues." Shadow and Act. N.Y.: Random, 1964. 77-94.

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African American Literary Criticism. New York: Oxford UP, 1988.

Harris, Trudier. Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 1991.

Heinze, Denise. The Dilemma of "Double-Consciousness": Toni Morrison's Novels. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1993.

Karenga, Ron. "Black Cultural Nationalism." The Black Aesthetic. Ed. Addison Gayle, Jr. Garden City, NY. Anchor Books, 1971. 31-37.

Lee, Don L. "The Primitive." The Back Poets. Ed. Dudley Randall. New York: Bantam Books, 1971. 297.

Mbalia, Doreatha Drummond. "Women Who Run With Wild." Modern Fiction Studies: Toni Morrison Double Issue 39.3&4 (1994): 623-646.

Mix, Debbie. "Toni Morrison: A Selected Bibliography." Modern Fiction Studies: Toni Morrison Double Issue. 39.3&4 (1994): 795-817.

Morrison, Toni. Afterword. The Bluest Eye. New York: Plume, 1993. 209-216.

--. "Behind the Making of The Black Book."" Black World. Feb. 1974: 86-90.

--. Beloved. New York: Plume, 1987.

--. The Bluest Eye. 1970. New York: Plume,, 1993.

--. "City Limits, Village Values: Concepts of the Neighborhood in Black Fiction." Literature and the Urban Experience. Ed. Michael C. Jaye and Ann Chalmers Watts. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers UP, 1981. 35-43.

--. Jazz. New York: Plume, 1992.

--. Song of Solomon. New York: Plume, 19811.

--. Sula. New York: Plume, 1973.

--. Tar Baby. New York: Plume, 1981.

--. "What the Black Woman Thinks About Wommen's Lib." New York Times Magazine 22 Aug. 1971: 14-15, 63-66.

Neal, Larry. "The Black Arts Movement." The Black Aesthetic. Ed. Addison Gayle, Jr. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1971. 257-274.

Page, Phillip. "Traces of Derrida in Toni Morrison's Jazz." African American Review 29.1 (1995): 55-66.

Peterson, Nancy J. "Introduction: Canonizing Toni Morrison." Modern Fiction Studies: Double Issue on Toni Morrison 39.3&4 (1994): 461-479.

Walther, Mahn LaVon. "Out of Sight: Toni Morrison's Revision of Beauty." Black American Literature Forum 24 (1990): 775-789.

--. "Toni Morrison's Tar Baby: Re-Figuring the Colonizer's Aesthetics." Cross-Cultural Performances: Differences in Women's Revisions of Shakespeare. Ed. Marianne Novy. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1993. 137-149.

Werner, Craig Hansen. Playing the Changes: From Afro-Modernism to the Jazz Impulse. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1994.

Woolf, Virginia. "Professions for Women." Orig. published in The Death of the Moth and Other Essays, 1942. Rptd. in Virginia Woolf: Woman and Writing. Ed. Michele Barrett. New York: Harcourt Brace & World, 1979. 57-63.


Publication Information: Article Title: Periodizing Toni Morrison's Work from 'The Bluest Eye' to 'Jazz': The Importance of 'Tar Baby.'. Contributors: Malin Walther Pereira - author. Journal Title: MELUS. Volume: 22. Issue: 3. Publication Year: 1997. Page Number: 71+. COPYRIGHT 1997 The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnics Literature of the United States; COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group