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Postcolonialism Oppresion in Morrison’s Tar Baby

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Morrison’s Tar Baby shows, however, that laws are not enough to end postcolonial social conflicts. The novel’s setting is the 1970s and intersected the Caribbean, New York City, and Florida. Jadine “Jade” Childs met Son, an uneducated African American man. Their lives intertwined and clashed, until their final divergence, where both Son and Jade challenged the social institutions that curtailed their individualistic interests. This paper takes a sociological approach in analyzing the novel. Tar Baby demonstrates that postcolonialism is more or less like colonialism with pervading traditional racial and gender attitudes, although several blacks, such as the Childs, have developed an acute sense of self-importance and independence. Social structures changed since postcolonial times, but also remained poisoned with racism and sexism, while new forms of social conflicts attacked individualist yearnings. The novel establishes class structures, where racial lines divide the upper white class from the black working class, while the blacks are further divided between those who relish the past and wanted to hold on to it and those who commanded new power even over lower social class blacks. Grewal analyzes the social conflicts in Tar Baby. He stresses: “…Tar Baby depicts the struggle over cultural definitions and identifications in a postmodern world” (204). …
She has no friends outside their home, however, and when she wanted to be closer to Ondine, Valerian opposed it. Valerian represents the continuation of white supremacy through racial prejudice. Despite the low treatment of blacks, Sydney and his wife have amassed power inside the Street household. It can be seen from how Sydney speaks with Valerian that he has come far from his slavery roots. For instance, Sydney tells Valerian that croissants are supposed to crumble when eaten, since the latter complains that it is flaky: “Croissant [sic] supposed to be flaky. That’s as short a dough [sic] as you can make” (Morrison 301). Arrogance and tenderness both tinge his language and interaction with his white master. Sydney also values his work, which indicates his self-importance. He explains to Valerian why he cannot wear slippers, even when he has bunions: “I know my work. I’m a first-rate butler and I can’t be first-rate in slippers” (Morrison 340). He knows that he is a first-rate worker, and even better than other household helpers with lower and less clear roles and responsibilities in the house. Postcolonial oppression evolves and remains. It remains when whites look down on blacks, while it changes, as blacks look down on whites and other blacks who are different from who they are. Valerian, however, can no longer hold on to the Childs, because they are not his slaves. When Margaret talks about the possibility that they will open their retail shop and leave him, they broach the subject of allegiance, or in plainer terms, a slave’s loyalty to his white master. She says to Valerian: “And they will do the same for you. God knows they will. You couldn’t pry them out of here.