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To Love and Be Loved: Considering Black Masculinity and the Misandric Impulse in Toni Morrison's Beloved

From: Callaloo
Volume 26, Number 3, Summer 2003
pp. 836-854 | 10.1353/cal.2003.0092


This article seeks both to reassert and reassess the importance of the masculine presence in Toni Morrison's Beloved. It does so by examining a thematics of misandry. The hatred or phobia of men, as well as the literary engagement with its problematics, stand as part of a larger consideration of black social formation during the instabilities of the post-bellum period. Discussing misandry partakes in a counter-discourse that acknowledges the primacy of feminist readings of the text while suggesting that an evaluation of black femininity cannot be fully appreciated without that of black masculinity. Morrison's text offers a rich array of instances where the corrosion of masculine selfhood corresponds to a breakdown of social and domestic order. With Paul D. as its primary focus, the argument interrogates the parallel constructions of race and racial uplift, selective presentations of nationhood, the failure of nostalgia, and the enduring desire for more conducive sites for the development of self.

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