A Linguistic Stylistic Analysis of Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Paradise

A Linguistic Stylistic Analysis of Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Paradise

Abstract

This study explores how linguistic structures were deployed to bring out meaning in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Paradise. The analyses are carried out using linguistic stylistic methods and principles to investigate Morrison’s unique style in the selected novels. To achieve this objective, the research examines the lexico-syntactic and lexico-semantic features as well as the interpersonal, ideational and textual levels of meaning propounded by Halliday’s metafunctional theory. It adopts a random sampling technique in selecting the data. Beloved is divided into three parts and it has 28 chapters and data was randomly selected from each of these parts. Paradise has 9 chapters from which data was selected. This study uses the qualitative and quantitative method of analysis. The qualitative method analyses the conversations in the selected texts while the quantitative method shows the frequency and percentage of occurrence. At the lexico-syntactic level, the findings revealed, in both texts, the frequency of use of simple sentences more than the other types that is, 40% followed by compound and complex sentence 30% each in Beloved and 35% (compound) in Paradise and 25% (complex) respectively. Other stylistic features found in the texts include: African American Vernacular English, disorganized syntax, use of vulgar language, absence of graphic symbols, asyndeton, use of comma, dash, semi-colon and elision. At the lexico-semantic level, there is the use of lexical items, coinage, compounding, cohesive markers, lexical sets and rhetorical tropes and schemes which aid in describing the inhuman treatment and religious struggle between opposing camps. The metafunctional components in both texts reveal that interpersonal metafunction features declarative sentences, Yes/No and WH Interrogative sentences. The study reveals that the structure of a declarative sentence is: subject-finite residue; the structure of WH Interrogative sentence can be: subject-finite- residue or finite- subject- residue which is also found in Yes/No interrogative sentence. At the ideational level Morrison uses the three core process types: material clauses, mental clauses and relational clauses. Our findings reveal the dominant use of circumstancial elements of manner like mean, quality, comparison and degree, which were meant to add more information about the actions of the characters. The textual metafunction reveals theme and rheme structure, theme and mood, theme in declarative sentences, theme in interrogative sentences and theme in imperative sentences. The study further observes that Morrison’s linguistic style flourishes on simplicity of language use and the use of African American Vernacular English features prominently in both novels.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Cover Page – – – – – i

Title Page – – – – – ii

Declaration – – – -iii

Certification – – – -iv

Dedication – – – – – v

Acknowledgements – – – vi

Abstract – – – – – -viii

Table of Contents – – – ix

Tables- – – – – – -xiv

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study – – 1

1.2 Toni Morrison: A Historical Brief – – -3

1.2.1 About the Books – – – – -5

1.3 Statement of the Research Problem – – – 7

1.4 Research Questions – – – 9

1.5 Aim and Objectives – – – 10

1.6 Scope and Delimitation – – – -11

1.7 Justification and Significance of the Study – – – – 11

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.0 Preamble – – – – – – – 13

2.1 Literature and Language Use – – -13

2.2 Language, Literature and Style – – – -18

2.3 Theories/ Models of Style – – – – – -21

2.3.1 Style as Choice from Variant Forms – – – – – – -22

2.3.2 Style as Idiosyncratic form/ Individual/ Idiolect – – -23

2.3.3 Style as Situation – – – – – – – -23

2.3.4 Style as deviation from the Norm – – – – – -24

2.3.5 Style as Content and Form – – – – – 25

2.4 Theories and Approaches to Literary Criticism – – – 28

2.4.1 Practical/ New Criticism and Postmodernism – – – – 28

2.4.2 Postmodernism – – – – – -31

2.5 Emergence and Development of Stylistics – – – – -34

2.6 Approaches to Stylistic Analyses – – – – -40

2.7 Linguistic Stylistics Approach – – – – – -48

2.7.1 Models of Linguistic Stylistics – – – 50

2.8 Authorial Review – – – – – – – – – – – 59

2.9 Theoretical Framework – – – – – – – – 75

CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY

3.0 Preamble – -79

3.1 Sources of Data – – – 79

3.2 Sample and Sampling Technique – – – -79

3.3 Method of Data Collection – – – -80

3.4 Analytic Procedure – – – – – – -80

3.5 Method of Data Analysis – – – -81

CHAPTER FOUR: PRESENTATION OF DATA AND ANALYSIS

4.0 Preamble – – – – – – – – – – 83

4.1 Data Presentation – – – – – -83

4.2 Data Analysis – – – – – – – 84

4.2.1 Analysis of Linguistic Stylistic features of Beloved and Paradise – – – 84

4.2.1.1 Lexico-Syntactic level – – – – – 85

4.3 Grammatical Analysis of Text A – — – 121

4.4 Grammatical Analysis of Text B- – – – 128

4.5 Analysis of Paradigmatic/lexical (the lexical set) of Text A- – – 133

4.6 Analysis of Paradigmatic / lexical (the lexical set) of Text B- – – 138

4.7 Use of Rhetorical Tropes and Schemes in Text A – – – – – 144

4.8 Use of Rhetorical Tropes and Schemes in Text B – – – – – 158

4.9 Analysis of Metafunctional Components in Text A – – – – – 163

4.10. Analysis of Metafunctional Components in Text B – – – – 186

4.11 Discussion of Findings – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -199

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

5.0 Introduction – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -210

5.1 Summary – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 210

5.2 Conclusion – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 211

5.3 Contribution to Knowledge – – – – – – – – – 213

References- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -216

LIST OF TABLES

Table 1: Tree Diagram 1 – — – – – – – – – – -86

Table 2: Tree Diagram 2 – – – – – – – – – – – 86

Table 3: Use of Simple Sentences in Texts A and B – – – – 88

Table 4: Use of Compound Sentences in Texts A and B – – – – -91

Table 5: Use of Complex Sentences in Texts A and B – – – – 93

Table 6: Frequency of use of Sentences in Texts A and B – – -95

Table 7: Use of Disordered Syntax in Texts A and Text B – – – 96

Table 8: Use of African American Vernacular English in Texts A and B – – – -98

Table 9: Use of Anastrophe (inversion of sentence) in Texts A and B- – – -100

Table 10: Use of Double Negatives in Texts A and B – – – – – 101

Table 11: Use of vulgar Language in Texts A and B – – – – – -102

Table 12: Use of Asyndeton in Texts A and B – – – – -105

Table 13: Frequency of use Disordered Syntax and others in Texts A and B – – -106

Table 14: Absence of Graphic Symbols in Text A- – – – – 107

Table 15: Use of Capitalization in Texts A and B- – – – – – – -109

Table 16: Excessive use of Commas in Texts A and B – – – – – -111

Table 17: Use of Dash (-) in Texts A and B – – – – –113

Table 18: Use of Semi-colon in Texts A and B – – – – – — – 115

Table 19: Use of Quotation mark in the middle of a Sentence in Texts A- – – – – – 116

Table 20: Use of Elision in Texts A and B – – – – – – — – – 118

Table 21: Frequency of use of Graphological Features in Texts A and B – – – 119

Table 22: Frequency of use of Lexical items and others in Texts A and B – – 132

Table 23: Frequency of use Lexical sets in Texts A and B – – – – – – 143

Table 24: Frequency of use of Rhetorical Tropes and Schemes in Text A and B – – – 161

Table 25: The Structure of a Declarative Sentence in Text A – – – – 165

Table 26: The Structure of Yes – No Interrogative Sentence in Text A- – – – 166

Table 27: The Structure of WH Interrogative Sentence – subject before finite in Text A -167

Table 28: The Structure of WH Interrogative Sentence – finite before subject in Text A- 167

Table 29: Circumstantial Element of Manner in Text A – – – – 169

Table 30: Senser and Phenomenon 1 in Text A- – – – – – – 172

Table 31: Senser and Phenomenon 2 in Text A- – – – – – 173

Table 32: Theme – Rheme Structure in Text A – – – – – – 178

Table 33: Theme -Rheme Structure of Prepositional and Adverbial Phrases in Text A – 179

Table 34: Theme- Rheme boundary in Declarative Clauses in Text A- – – – – – -181

Table 35: Theme – Rheme Structure in WH Interrogative in Text A- – – – – -183

Table 36: Theme – Rheme Structure in Yes-No Interrogative in Text A – – – -183

Table 37: Theme – Rheme Structure of Imperative Clauses in Text A – – – – – 184

Table 38: The Structure of a Declarative Sentence in Text B – – – – – – – – – 187

Table 39: The Structure of Yes- No Interrogative in Text B- – – – – – – – – 188

Table 40: The Structure of WH Interrogative Sentence – subject before finite in Text B- – – – – -189

Table 41: The Structure of WH Interrogative Sentence – finite before subject in Text B- – – – –189

Table 42: Senser and Phenomenon 1 in Text B- – – – – – – – 192

Table 43: Senser and Phenomenon 2 in Text B – – – – – – – 192

Table 44: Theme – Rheme Structure in Text B – – – – – – 194

Table 45: Theme – Rheme Structure in Adverbial and Prepositional Phrases in Text B -194

Table 46: Thme – Rheme Boundary in Declarative Clause in Text B- – – – – – 196

Table 47: Theme – Rheme Structure of WH Interrogative in Text B- – – – – 197

Table 48: Theme – Rheme Structure in Yes – No Interrogative in Text B – – 197

Table 49: Theme – Rheme Structure in Imperative Clause in Text B- – – – 197

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

Stylistics is a discipline that is found at the intersection of literary criticism and linguistics. Its application can be used in the study of journalism, popular texts, religious works, advertising, non-fiction, popular culture, politics, etc. According to Paul (2004: 3) “The preferred object of study in stylistics is literature, whether that be institutionally sanctioned ‘literature’ as high art or more popular ‘non-canonical’ forms of writing”. In addition, Paul (2004:2) further postulates that “stylistics is a method of textual interpretation in which primacy of place is assigned to language”. As a conceptual field of discourse, stylistics tries to establish and explain the different choices people make in the use of language in their writings. This is a common feature which is discernible in the search for dialogue, grammar, the use of active and passive voice, the distribution of sentences, i.e. simple, compound or complex, the use of registers and other language devices that depict the style of the writer.

Ullman (1971:133) is of the opinion that “Stylistics is not a mere branch of linguistics, but, a parallel discipline which investigates the same phenomena from its own point of view”. Stylistics therefore, is “that part of linguistics which concentrates on variation in the use of language often but not exclusively, with special attention to the most conscious and complex use of language in literature”, Turner (1973:7). In view of this, the present study analyses how Toni Morrison fused two incongruous and fundamentally different characters into one community that love to hate and yet are forced to live together. What are the unique stylistic techniques at the lexico-syntactic and lexico-semantic levels employed by Morrison in

expressing the myriad of problems, social and cultural differences as well as difficulties and racial tendencies exhibited in the selected works? It is based on these ve ry crucial aspects of communication between the characters that this study anchors the analysis of data.

Stylistics is most often referred to as the study of style. This implies that style is fundamental to this area of language study. The importance of style to stylistics is best captured by Babajide (2000: 122) when he says that “no style, no stylistics”. Stylistics has been defined by many scholars within the prism of style. Lucas (1955:9) says that style is “the effective use of language, especially in prose, whether to make statements or to arouse emotions. It involves first of all the power to put facts with clarity and brevity”. This means that for communication to be appropriate and effective, stylistics must be able to assess and show how language is applied in an utterance or a piece of writing. Similarly, Davy and Crystal (1983:9 quoted in Babajide 2000:123) argue that style is “the effectiveness of a mode of expression” by “saying the right thing in the most effective way”. What these definitions have in common is that style involves the use of choice or the alternative way of saying something from many options. In addition, Allan (1988 quoted in Babajide 2000:124) defines stylistics as:

… a branch of linguistics which studies the characteristics of situationally distinctive uses of language with particular reference to literary language, and tries to establish principles capable of accounting for the particular choices made by individuals and social groups in their use of language.

Stylistics is the symbiosis of language and literature. Echoing the same argument, Stockwell (2000:10) postulates that:

It might seem obvious to the non-specialist that literature, the most culturally valued and aesthetically prestigious form of language practice, is best studied using the resources developed in the field of linguistics. However, this truism has

not always been obvious to a whole range of disciplines, all of which claim a different stake in the study of the literary…Stylistics is the discipline that has bridged these areas, and stylisticians have found themselves engaged in arguments not only with literary critics, cultural theorists, philosophers, poets, novelists and dramatists, but also with practitioners of linguistics.

Stylistics has a dual position and plays an important role in modern form of analysis. The roots of stylistics can be traced to the histories of language study as well as literary criticism.

Stockwell (2000:11) further says that:

Stylistics has therefore come to be regarded as an essentially interdisciplinary field drawing on the different sub-disciplines within linguistics to varying degrees, as well as on fields recognizable to literary critics, such as philosophy, cultural theory, sociology, history and psychology.

Drawing from the interdisciplinary fields, this study focuses on the linguistic stylistic analysis of

Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1988) and Paradise (1997). The study is aware of the importance of

literary stylistics which is also a sub-field of stylistics that interprets message of a text or a piece

of writing by establishing the identity and style of the writer. However, this study is a linguistic

stylistic analysis at the lexico-syntactic and lexico-semantic levels that examines the effect and

impact of the mode of expression in Toni Morrison’s selected texts.

1.2 Toni Morrison: A historical brief

Chloe Anthony Wofford or Toni Morrison is an acclaimed writer from the United States of

America. She was born in Ohio in 1931 and attended Howard University and Cornell University

respectively for her first and second degrees in English language. She had a stint as a lecturer in

Howard University before leaving to become an editor at Random House with specialization in

black fiction (www.biography.com/Toni Morrison). Morrison began her creative career in the

1970s. Her first novel The Bluest Eye was written in 1970. It was followed in 1974 by Sula, the

work that catapulted her for nomination for the National Book Award. In addition, her book Song of Solomon (1977) won Morrison the National Book Critics Award in 1977. She is a prolific writer who has written many books which include Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987) which won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Jazz (1992) and Paradise (1997). In view of her outstanding works, Morrison became the first African-American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. Furthermore, in 2012, Morrison was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and she also added another feather to her cap of achievements by winning the 2016 PEN/ SAUL Bellow award. The award is bestowed to living American authors “whose scale of achievement in fiction, over a sustained career, places him or her in the highest rank of American literature” (Daily Trust, March 6, 2016:39).

However, despite the lofty achievements of Morrison in works of fiction, her books the Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved “are among the most challenged and banned books in America” (Guillermo 2016). A challenged book in America means a book that is not permitted to be used in the library or school curriculum. According to The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), a book is challenged because it has or contains any one of the three top reasons which means the content is “sexually explicit” or the language is “offensive” or the work is “unsuited to any age or group.” Toni Morrison was married to a Jamaican architect Harold Morrison and has two sons even though they divorced after six years. Presently, Morrison is a Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at Princeton University in the United States of America.




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