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Tar Baby (novel)

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Wikipedia article

'Tar Baby' is a novel by the American author, Toni Morrison, first published in 1981.

Plot introduction

This novel portrays a love affair between Jadine and Son, two Black Americans from very different worlds. Jadine is a beautiful Sorbonne graduate and fashion model who has been sponsored into wealth and privilege by the Streets, a wealthy white family who employ Jadine's aunt and uncle as domestic servants. Son is an impoverished, strong-minded man who washes up at the Streets' estate on a Caribbean island. As Jadine and Son come together, their affair ruptures the illusions and self-deceptions that held together the world and relationships at the estate. They travel back to the U.S. to search for somewhere they can both be at home, and find that their homes hold poison for each other. The struggle of Jadine and Son reveals the pain, struggle, and compromises confronting Black Americans seeking to live and love with integrity in the United States.

Explanation of the novel's title from the Author

Tar Baby is also a name [...] that white people call black children, black girls, as I recall.
At one time, a tar pit was a holy place, at least an important place, because tar was used to build things.
It held together things like Moses' little boat and the pyramids.
For me, the tar baby came to mean the black woman who can hold things together.

- from an interview with Morrison by Karin L. Badt (1995)

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