Essay, Pages 5 (1062 words)
Toni Morrison’s use of language throughout the novel gives her writing a sense of wit; it is easily understood by the reader, and acts as a subtle hint into the minds and emotions of the characters. Her use of innuendo speaks to a sexual theme, a common tension found among the main characters of the story. The final passage of Chapter 4 depicts a dialogue between Cee, and Sarah, sharing a ripened melon on a hot afternoon. The language used in this passage juxtaposes sexual vocabulary with the ruthlessness of Dr.
Beau, as well as foreshadowing Cee’s abuse. Additionally, in the passage Morrison reflects upon Prince’s manipulation of Cee’s naivety. This passage represents Cee’s inability to form a healthy relationship with a male character. Portrayed as a “female melon,” Cee is “soft” in the hands of her former husband, and employer. Her vulnerability leads to her reconnection with Frank, relating to the overall idea of relationships throughout the novel.
The strength of the relationship between Cee and Frank drives this reconnection, which fuels the plot. The only form of love Cee feels is found platonically, through the genuine relationship with her brother, Frank.
The language used to portray Cee as a ripened melon in the passage alludes to her helplessness. After Frank had deployed, a young Cee attempts to form a relationship with a visitor from Atlanta named Prince. The unique name of this character is not assigned at random; Cee’s naïve perception of Prince identifies him as an almost fairytale-like figure.
She became impressed with his experience of places outside of Lotus, and with his conviction. He eventually “rescues” Cee from Lotus, and brings her to the city with seemingly little convincing necessary. Cee becomes under the impression that Prince is “too good for her,” and for these reasons, she is willing to tolerate “the great thing people warned about or giggled about,” despite her lack of interest (Morrison 48). She is, in fact, “[a]lways the sweetest,” a phrase Morrison employs which may refer to her willingness, and trust in others; this is a sign of adolescence. Cee’s lack of experience with male melons led to her obedience towards Prince.
It only took Prince’s word to convince Cee that she was pretty, a woman, and old enough to get married. Not long after moving into the city did Cee realize Prince’s true intentions. Cee’s first relationship was nothing more than an overplayed scheme to gain an automobile. She had been used. Sarah and Cee mention that one “[c] an’t beat the girl for flavor,” and “[c] an’t beat her for sugar” (66). Prince understands this concept. Morrison uses the word “beat” to relay the message that nothing can compare to the qualities of a woman; however, in juxtaposing the melon with Cee, the word “beat” refers to abuse. Prince understands that in order to carry out his true intentions, he cannot be malicious to Cee. He must win her trust with kindness. He cannot “beat” her for her flavor (body) or her sugar (car). Cee blindly trusted her first relationship and was manipulated, which commences her trend of abusive relationships with men, other than her brother.
The last sentence of the passage is the most graphic, and the language used gives the reader a sensation of Cee’s traumatic incidents with Dr. Beau. Morrison foreshadows Cee’s fate as her language in this last sentence provokes thoughts of sexual abuse in the reader’s mind. The “sliding” of the knife from the drawer and the reference of “intense anticipation of the pleasure to come,” indicates Dr. Beau’s experimentation on Cee, and his twisted enjoyment of abusing the girl (66). For a moment, Morrison becomes less subtle with her warning to the reader and explicitly mentions how Sarah (and Dr. Beau) “cut the girl in two.” Cee, much like a ripened melon, is soft and almost defenseless. Her relationship with men in the novel is consistently abusive; Prince and Dr. Beau have both taken advantage of her adolescent innocence. When Dr. Beau would perform his “examinations,” Cee would wake in pain, and often times see blood; however, she would attribute her symptoms to menstrual problems (122). Once again, Cee had trusted a man, and was hurt, physically in this case, for doing so.
Her relationship with her brother is made stronger through the malicious relationships she forms with other men. Frank was a constant source of platonic love, one of the only men in the novel whom she is able to trust. The concept of family and relationships is a key theme throughout Home. The plot is driven by the strength of Cee and Frank’s relationship, and the platonic love between them. Cee’s susceptibility to other male characters is captured in her comparison to ripened honeydew; however, Frank masks Cee’s frailty and is able to protect her. After Frank liberates Cee, within weeks her health improved dramatically. After her traumatic events, Frank noticed “how healthy she looked— glowing skin, back straight, not hunched in discomfort” (126). From a young age, Frank was able to protect Cee, and their connection provides the foundation for the novel. It was only the strength of their relationship that could convince Frank to travel back to Lotus. In reminiscing about when he enlisted, Frank states that “[o]nly my sister in trouble could force me to even think about going in that direction” (84).
Frank is the only male in the novel who truly cares for Cee, and their relationship is the only honest bond Cee has with a male. The scene of Sarah sharing a ripened melon with Cee on a hot Sunday afternoon gives the reader a deeper look into Cee’s characterization. The language Morrison uses, and her association of Cee with the melon, alludes to Cee’s vulnerability throughout the novel. In her attempt to form a healthy, non-abusive relationship, Cee finds herself being manipulated and physically abused. As a young girl, her adolescence was taken advantage of by her former husband who leaves her and takes her vehicle. When Cee becomes employed, she finds herself in the hands of Dr. Beau, who physically abuses an anesthetized Cee. Ycidra can only find love platonically in her brother, which relates to the overall theme of relationships in the novel. The final passage of chapter 4 graphically foreshadows and reflects on these events through Morrison’s use of subtle innuendos and language.