“So his bed was where they slept and where the great thing people warned about or giggled about too place. It was not so much painful as dull. Cee thought it would get better later. Better turned out to be simply more, and while the quantity increased, its pleasure lay in its brevity.”
Toni Morrison’s tenth novel Home is slim and brief. At 148 pages, it should be called a novella rather than n novel. But what this novel does in its pages so succinctly, better than any other novelist, is ask What is the meaning of home. How can you be safe in your home—a stand in for the United States—when brown boys stalk and kill black boys walking from convince stores; when a law student gets called a whore; when banks foreclose on service men’s homes; when anyone who speaks out for the poor is called socialist; when a black woman is raped and no one cares?
How can you fight for, die for, shed blood for, live in, pay taxes to, be born in a country that would rather have in you in chains than call you a citizen?
How do you live in a country that needs, thrives on your services, but cannot stand to look at you?
Frank Money encompasses everything in an everyman character, yet he stands for nothing but his sister, Cee. After waking up in a hospital war after a stink in Korea, the veteran has one last mission to complete: return to the abusive home of his youth to save his sister from certain death.
Without too many plot spoilers, Frank and Cee redefine their idea of home with the help of the black community, a community that has been fractured in the wake of desegregation, rise of the middle class and apathy for the black community. In the wake of upward mobility, the black community has lost its sense of self.
Morrison asks of us, if we do not look out for ourselves, how as we as a race stand to survive? When Frank finds himself barefoot, broke and half naked, he is helped along the way. Frank is given food, clothing, money, a warm bed, yet today we cannot give one another the time of day.
For Frank and Cee, Home is not where they want to be, but where they are needed. If you have read the novel, what are your thoughts?