God Help the Child: A novel
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Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child—the first novel by Toni Morrison to be set in our current moment—weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult.
At the center: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths. And finally, Bride’s mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”
A fierce and provocative novel that adds a new dimension to the matchless oeuvre of Toni Morrison.
He was part of the pain—not a savior at all, and now her life was in shambles because of him. The pieces of it that she had stitched together: personal glamour, control in an exciting even creative profession, sexual freedom and most of all a shield that protected her from any overly intense feeling, be it rage, embarrassment or love. Her response to physical attack was no less cowardly than her reaction to a sudden, unexplained breakup. The first produced tears; the second a flip “Yeah, so?”
something. Something bad. But the days passed with boredom unbroken. Steve and Evelyn occasionally spent time after supper sitting outside singing songs by the Beatles or Simon and Garfunkel—Steve strumming his guitar, Evelyn joining him in tuneless soprano. Their laughter tinkling between wrong lines and missed notes. In the following weeks of more visits to the clinic, leg exercises and waiting for the Jaguar to be repaired, Bride learned that her hosts were in their fifties. Steve had
scratch the back of her calf. “They said they found you, sitting in the rain.” “Yep.” “So why did you say ‘stole’?” “Because I didn’t ask them to take me and they didn’t ask if I wanted to go.” “Then why did you?” “I was wet, freezing too. Evelyn gave me a blanket and a box of raisins to eat.” “Are you sorry they took you?” I guess not, thought Bride—otherwise you would have run away. “Oh, no. Never. This is the best place. Besides there’s no place else to go.” Rain yawned and rubbed her
During those months quiet ticked through the house like a time bomb that would often explode into quarrels, silly and pointlessly mean. “Ma, he’s looking at me!” “Stop looking at her.” “He’s looking back!” “Stop looking back.” “Ma!” When the police responded to their plea for help in searching for Adam, they immediately searched the Starberns’ house—as though the anxious parents might be at fault. They checked to see if the father had a police record. He didn’t. “We’ll get back to you,”
this change her? 15. Why does Rain form such a special bond with Bride? 16. How did Adam’s death change Booker? Why did it affect him more than the rest of his family? 17. Discuss Bride’s sojourn with Queen. How does their relationship develop so quickly? 18. Although Queen has had many children, she has no close contact with any of them. What does this tell us about her? Why is she still a sympathetic character? 19. After Bride reads Booker’s writing about her, how does it change her