Morrison’s Return to Faulkner: <i>A Mercy</i> and <i>Absalom, Absalom!</i>

Doreen Fowler and Jay Watson

in Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas

Published by University Press of Mississippi

Published in print June 2016 | ISBN: 9781496806345
Published online September 2017 | e-ISBN: 9781496806383 | DOI:
Morrison’s Return to Faulkner: A Mercy and Absalom, Absalom!

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This chapter examines an intertextual relationship between Toni Morrison's novel, A Mercy (2008) and Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! (1936). A Mercy returns to racial motifs in Faulkner's work and shifts the focus from the dominant culture to the marginalized and explores racial meanings that have eluded readers for whom black and white are discrete, dichotomous categories. Whereas the narrators of Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! are the white upper class that Morrison calls “the dominant cultural body,” Morrison's novel incorporates narrators include all perspectives--white, black, Native American, free, and slave--and Morrison's culturally marginalized narrators foreground meanings that are implicit, but often withheld, disguised, or denied by Faulkner's narrators.

Keywords: Racial marginalization; Nature/Culture dichotomy; Domination of the signifier; Discursive methods; Patriarchal power

Chapter.  5491 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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