... try, but most don't make it. ' 'She's not a yall a,' said Son. 'Just a little light. ' He didn't want any discussion about shades of black folk. ' Don't fool yourself. You should have seen her two months ago.
What you see is tanning from the sun. Yall as don't come to being black natural-like. They have to choose it and most don't choose it. ' (155) Heedless of the warning and desperately in love, Son wants to 'rescue' Jadine from the white world and bring her back to Eloe and the history it stands for.
He attempts 'to breathe into her the smell of tar and its shiny consistency' (102). Jadine starts on the path toward being 'un orphaned' in her relationship with Son. Jadine, on the other hand, wants to rescue Son from what she perceives to be his 'white-folks-black-folks primitivism' (275). She attempts to 'culture' and to educate him and wants to ask Valerian for money to pay for a store for the two of them, or for Son's education. Son refuses to be in debt to 'one of the killers of the world' (204). A trip to Eloe where Aunt Rosa calls her 'daughter' and where the night-women visit her, proves too much for Jadine: But most of the hurt was dread.
The night women were not merely against her (and her alone-not him), not merely looking superior over their sagging breasts and folded stomachs, they seemed somehow in agreement with each other about her, and were all out to get her, tie her, bind her. Grab the person she had worked hard to become and choke it off with their soft loose tits. (262) Badt, I think, explains this perfectly: She fears being cast as a representative of her race and joining its 'fraternity. ' She rejects the 'ancient properties' of African people that Son, the African woman, and the night women who visit her in a dream embody... Given the atrocities in Afro-American history, to return to one's 'roots' has the psychic resonance of returning to a subjugated position. (Badt) During a final confrontation Jadine feels she is fighting not Son but the night women who had seduced him.
The argument is over Valerian and education. Son tells Jadine Valerian owed her the education, considering that he had 'shit all over your uncle and aunt ' (263). Still refusing to see the truth, Jadine defends Valerian. Son finally sees Jadine for who she really is.
He renounces Jadine's Eurocentric, or Euro American education:' The truth is that whatever you learned in those colleges that didn't include me ain't shit... If they didn't teach you that, then they didn't teach you nothing, because until you know about me, you don't know nothing about yourself. And you don't know anything, anything at all about your children and anything at all about your mama and your papa. ' (227-8) Son renounces Jadine's previous plans to marry a white man, saying: 'People don't mix races; they abandon them or pick them' (270). He tells Jadine the truth about who put her through school, and about Ondine's feet. He speaks of Jadine's responsibility and how appalled he was when Jadine deserted them after the Christmas Eve fight.
Son sees Jadine, her rejection of her native culture as well as of her family, and is filled by a desperate rage. He rapes her while telling her the story of the Tar Baby. He is shamed afterwards by Jadine who gives him 'his original dime. ' He leaves and upon his return finds the apartment empty. Jadine escapes to Isle des Chevaliers where she rejects her family and culture one final time. Ondine tells her that 'A daughter is a woman that cares about where she come from and takes care of them that took care of her' (242).
Jadine replies that she does not want to become like Ondine-a grave insult to the woman who gave her all to this ungrateful girl. This story is not just about preserving one's cultural heritage, but also about maturity. As Ondine says to Jadine:' A girl has got to be a daughter first... and if she never learns how to be a daughter, she can't never learn how to be a woman... good enough even for the respect of other women... You don't need your own natural mother to be a daughter.
All you need is to feel a certain way, a certain careful way about people older than you are. ' (242) As Jadine leaves with her black baby-seal 'killer' coat, Ondine and Sydney doubt that she will even bury them. Jadine proves how little she has learned when she considers the new help 'the mulatto with a leer' (225) and calls Alma Est " ee 'Mary. ' She is truly the Race-Traitor. Th " er'ese knows that Jadine is lost. A descendant of the 'blind race's he also knows how to detach Brer Rabbit (Son) from Jadine, the 'Tar Baby.
' She leaves Son on the far side of Isle des Chevaliers where he has a choice... where he can be free. 'Lick ety-Split' the sound both of the rabbit and of the horsemen signifies Son's freedom in the end. Though one is lost to history, the other can carry the heritage. Through her fiction, Toni Morrison intends to present problems, not their answers.
(Moon) Toni Morrison is a complex writer who weaves deftly together difficult motifs. Her books rarely have a 'neat' conclusion. As Barbara Christian writes: [It is] a simple story becoming increasingly complex, mythic, beyond solution, yet teaching me a lesson I needed to know.
1. Badt, Karin Luisa. 'The Roots of the Body in Toni Morrison: A Matter of 'Ancient Properties. ' African American Review, Winter 1995 vs.
29 n. 4 p. 567 (11). Online. Encarta Online. Internet. 1 May, 1997.
Available: web apply. cgi/2/1/28712/4? x rn 172. Christian, Barbara. 'Toni Morrison: Our Saving Grace. ' Online. Internet. 1 May, 1997.
Available: web La Vallee, Andrew W.A. 'Faces as Black as His But Smug'-The Race Traitor in Morrison's Tar Baby. ' Online Internet. 1 May, 1997.
Available: web Moon, Yong hee. 'Rooted ness. ' Paraphrase. Online. Internet. 1 May. 1997.
Available: web Morrison, Toni. 'An Interview with Toni Morrison. ' With Tom Le Clair. Anything Can Happen: Interviews with Contemporary American Novelists. Ed. Tom Le Clair and Larry Mccafferty. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1983.
252-61.6. Ryan, Judy lyn S. 'Contested Visions / Double-Vision in Tar Baby. ' Modern Fiction Studies Volume 39. N 3&4. Fall / Winter 1993.
597-621.7. 'Toni Morrison,' Contemporary Authors, Gale Research, 1993.