Home

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In her latest novel Home, Toni Morrison explores the life of a 24-year old African American veteran from the Korean War. Frank Money grew up in a small town called Lotus in the warm climate of Georgia. As a child he, his family and their neighbors were driven from their home in Texas by hooded men, forced to abandon their land, crops and property. In Lotus his parents worked sixteen hours a day in the cotton fields and die early on, “one of lung disease, another of a stroke,” leaving him and his sister to their cruel grandparents (Morrison 34). Soon Lotus became for him “the worst place in the world, worse than any battlefield” (Morrison 83). For Frank and Cee “there was no future, just long stretches of killing time” (Morrison 83). As soon as they were old enough, they left Lotus each searching for their new and better “home.” Frank looks for home in the Army, as he and his “homeboys” recruited for the Korean War. Cee flees to Atlanta with a man she married but hardly knows, and is quickly abandoned. They both are continuously searching for a better replacement of their childhood home, a place where they can find security, peace and shelter.

Morrison cross-cuts Frank’s story with that of his sister for a reason. The parallel she makes is to show us that the meaning of “home” is both personal and universal – a community, a family, or a relationship where people can feel comfortable and nurtured. After returning from the integrated army in Korea, Frank discovers that mid-20th-century America is just as he left it, segregated and full of hardships. He has seen his best friends die on the battlefield, young girls searching for food and finding soldiers, innocent people die for nothing. Suffering from PTSD, he is like a wanderer chased by his own memories. He constantly tries, but can hardly escape from the “horrible pictures” (Morrison 24). No matter what he used to dull his mental disorder – from alcohol to casual sex and relationships - violence was always simmering below the surface and nightmarish memories of the front were always waiting to ambush him. A clear example portraying this state of mind is when the narrator says that“[o]nly with Lily did the pictures fade, move behind a screen in his brain, pale but waiting and accusing” (Morrison 21). After Lily leaves him, he ends up in a mental hospital with barely any memories of what he did. He manages to escape, only to realize that the only concept of “home” left to him is his sister Cee. He hated Lotus, its unforgiving population, its isolation, and especially its indifference to the future and without his “buddies” the place would be intolerable (Morrison 16). “Only my sister in trouble could force me to even think about going in that direction,” he says (Morrison 84). After he is told Cee is dying, Frank who is barely hanging on and not quite able to ease back into society, finds parts of his manhood buried deep within him and goes on a quest back to Georgia to save the only “home” he is left with – his sister.

At the same time, Cee’s pursuit of personal home is expressed in her constant changing of jobs. When she is left “broken down, down into her separate parts,” she starts clean by securing a job from a white doctor called Beauregard Scott (Morrison, 54). Morrison deftly showcases Cee’s naivety in a short scene where she peruses Scott’s books with titles such as The Passing of the Great Race and Heredity, Race and Society, and then mulls over the meaning of “eugenics” (65). She genuinely believed that she found her “true home”-“[t]his was a good, safe place, she knew, and Sarah had become her family, friend, and her confidante” (Morrison 65). Her naivety prevents her from realizing that instead of “medical assistant,” she is just a “guinea pig” in the hands of the mysterious “doctor.” In the end, what she thought was her “new home,” almost kills her.

“Cee. Ycidra. My sister. Now my only family…No more people I didn’t save. No more watching people close to...
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