Stream of Consciousness • Stream of Consciousness is a literary technique which was pioneered by Dorthy Richardson, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce. Stream of consciousness is characterized by a flow of thoughts and images, which may not always appear to have a coherent structure or cohesion.
The plot line may weave in and out of time and place, carrying the reader through the life span of a character or further along a timeline to incorporate the lives of characters from other time periods.
Writers who create stream-of-consciousness works of literature focus on the emotional and psychological processes that are taking place in the minds of one or more characters. • Important character traits are revealed through an exploration of what is going on in the mind.
Elements included in Magical Realism • Irony Regarding Author’s Perspective—The writer must have ironic distance from the magical world view for the realism not to be compromised. • Unusual sequence of events and POV – fragmented time sequences, flashbacks, stream of consciousness, frequently switching point of view • The Supernatural and Natural—In magical realism, the supernatural is not displayed as questionable. • Realistic setting and conflict (often points out or protests social or political concerns) • Elements patterned on fairytales, tall tales, mythology, the mystic/spiritual, folklore, and a bond with the traditions or faith of a community. Events presented as absolutely real and often go unquestioned but have dreamlike or fairy-tale like qualities.
Well-known magical realist works • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude • Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate • Ben Okri, The Famished Road • Toni Morrison, Beloved • WP Kinsella, Shoeless Joe (made into the film, Field of Dreams) • Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children • These novels violate, in various ways, standard novelistic expectations by drastic experiments with subject matter, form, style, temporal sequence, and fusions of the everyday, the fantastic, the mythical, and the nightmarish, in renderings that blur traditional distinctions between what is serious or trivial, horrible or ludicrous, tragic or comic.
Problems with the term - Magical Realism • Some claim that it is a postcolonial hangover, a category used by "whites" to marginalize the fiction of the "other." • Others claim that it is a passé literary trend, or just a way to cash in on the Latin American "boom." • Still others feel the term is simply too limiting, and acts to remove the fiction in question from the world of serious literature.
Application to Beloved • Supernatural – a ghost haunts the house quite literally but also metaphorically. The ghost materializes into a girl (this is questionable but there are subtle hints) • Realistic Setting: Set in 1873 just after the American Civil War (1861–1865), it is based on the true story of the African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who escaped slavery in 1856 in Kentucky by fleeing to Ohio • Experimental structure: non-linear, flashbacks, fragmentation in stories, multiple POV switching frequently, stream of consciousness • Incorporation of African folklore and beliefs about death
What we need to look for… • How does Morrison’s techniques (elements of magical realism) affect our interpretation and experience of this story? • How does magical realism and the structure of the story reinforce the themes and meaning of the work as a whole?
Socratic Seminar Opening Questions: • Why do you think the book is titled Beloved rather than “Sethe” or “The Ghost” or some such? What features of the book does the title emphasize? • Why do you think Morrison employs so many Biblical allusions throughout her novel? • How does the novel enlighten our knowledge about slavery and its enduring impact on the United States?
Core Questions • What are some notable feature of Toni Morrison’s style? What are some of the features of her manner of storytelling? • Given the ironic nature of the name “Sweet Home,” why does it play such an evocative role in the novel? • What beliefs about the nature of memory does Sethe convey to her daughter? Do you think these may relate to Morrison’s view about the nature and role of art? How and why? • What symbolic circumstances attend Beloved’s return?
Core Questions • Is Beloved’s return meant to be read as a literal and physical return? Why or why not? • What role does the “chokecherry tree” on Sethe’s back play? • Does the murder have the narrative impact it should have or is it anti-climatic? What effect did it have on you? • What do you think happens at the novel’s end—is Sethe healed? Do she and Paul D. make a life together? Are they reunited with their community? Or does she die? • If the preceding issues are unresolved, why do you think this is so?
Closing Questions • What is the tone of the novel? How would you describe its language? What purpose does the language serve? • Was this a story “to pass on,” and if not, why has it been passed on? Or is the statement a form of paradox? Why or why not? • By classical definition, a tragedy effects purgation and cleansing by the evocation of pity and terror. Is this work intended as a tragedy? A comedy of redemption? Or some mixture of both? Explain. • What is added to this novel by its organization through metaphor and allegory?