Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Hannah Campos Professor Gibbons English 2 February 25, 2013 The Future of Language is in Our Hands Toni Morrison’s is a leading figure in American literature who won the Nobel Prize in 1993. She is good at giving different points of views or metaphors in order to show her purpose of writing and produce the tension of beauty. Black history plays a huge role in Morrison’s writing. In her lecture she tells a story happening between a blind woman and a few young men. The young men question her wisdom by asking if the bird in their hand was alive or dead.

Her response to that was, “it is in your hands” meaning that the fate of the bird is in your hands. They could either let the bird live or die. The bird in this story indicates language. Morrison tries to imply that language is diminishing slowly as generation goes on and on. She believes that it is in our hands to revive it for what it truly is. The story involves the racial issues. Morrison shows her strong love for Hero language, but at the same time she showed her worry for its situation in the hands of todays society. Morrison feels like language can or will be killed by indifference and be employed to promote violence.

In the continuing essay I will talk about Toni Morrison’s style and reason of writing what she writes and also what she means about “it is in your hands”, language that is. Morrison’s Nobel Lecture best interprets her artistic writing style. The fully poetic language and creative writing is what makes Morrison so outstandingly bold and Campos 2 different. Morrison is good at realizing what the purpose is and prevailing it onto others in a way that is easily persuasive and believable. She has many narrative techniques that she takes in to action.

In this lecture she gave, she brings forth all these techniques I just said in the above text. Toni Morrison makes a good point when, in her acceptance speech upon receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature, she says, “Narrative . . . is . . . one of the principal ways in which we absorb knowledge” (7). The words we use and the way in which we use them is how we, as humans, communicate to each other our thoughts, feelings, and actions and therefore our knowledge of the world and its peoples. Knowledge is power. In this way, our language, too, is powerful. We as the people just need to learn how to use it properly.

In her acceptance speech, Morrison tries to communicate the idea that we must be careful with how we use our words. Once again, She analogizes the use of language to the life of a metaphoric bird in a tale of a wise, old, blind woman. Toni Morrison opens her speech by referring to a tale of two young people who, in trying to disprove the credibility of this wise woman, ask the question, “ is the bird I am holding in my hand living or dead? ’”. Of course, being blind, the woman does not know and must say so. However, she adds that, “ What I do know is that it is in your hands. It is in your hands”.

In saying this, she tells the youngsters that the fate of the bird’s life is their responsibility. The bird, in this case, represents language. Morrison tries to portray the blind woman as an experienced writer of some sort. Some believe that it is herself. She goes on to say that the bird has either been found dead, been killed, or has the ability (if it Campos 3 is alive) to be killed, much as language, being looked at as a living thing, can live or die; be saved or destroyed. As Morrison would say language is “susceptible to death, erasure; certainly imperiled and salvageable only by an effort of the will”.

That will is the responsibility of those who use it. We have the option to make language something beautiful, useful, and a source of that power of knowledge, or as degrading, offensive, and oppressive. Throughout her speech, Toni Morrison works towards defining and supporting this thesis of responsibility. It is our responsibility, as users of words, to make language thrive. We are not aware of the words that come out of our mouths due to lack of thought or attention, we all suffer and we are all at fault. The standards of society are changing and with them the standards and values to which we hold the meaning of our words.

Some may say that the values and morals are declining and with that comes a decline in the way in which we as a society express ourselves. Should we be so “careless” or “indifferent” with our language, its “demise” will surely come. Words may, in fact, loose their affect and meaning. Perhaps this gives new meaning to the statement “language may be the measure of our lives”. Language has many uses, and with it responsibilities, namely “grappling with meaning, providing guidance, and expressing love”. Where would we be if we, as a culture, abandoned this all? Would we have no meaning, no guidance, no love?

All people who use language are capable of this, if not already to blame for this: children, parents, those who hold positions of power. All in all, Morrison tries to use a metaphoric analogy in order to portray her views on the role that language plays today and in the future. She strives to keep in abundant Campos 4 and living in all of our vocabulary. Morrison is very dedicated to her writing. She uses her ethnicity to help her tell her stories using racial issues. In the end, I believe that we all have language in our hands, how we use it is all up to us. It is our responsibility, however, to help future generations use it right.