Study Guide

Toni Morrison Quotes

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"For a used-to-be-slave woman to love anything that much was dangerous, especially if it was her children she had settled on to love. The best thing, he knew, was to love just a little bit; everything, just a little bit, so when they broke its back, or shoved it in a croaker sack, well, maybe you'd have a little love left over for the next one."

Toni Morrison, Beloved

"Being good to somebody is just like being mean to somebody. Risky. You don't get nothing for it."

Toni Morrison, Sula

"They shoot the white girl first, but the rest they can take their time. No need to hurry out here. They are 17 miles from a town which has 90 miles between it and any other. Hiding places will be plentiful in the convent, but there is time, and the day has just begun. They are nine. Over twice the number of the women, they are obliged to stampede or kill, and they have the paraphernalia for either requirement - rope, a palm leaf cross, handcuffs, mace, and sunglasses, along with clean, handsome guns."

Toni Morrison, Paradise

"The right record is on the turntable now; she can hear its preparatory hiss as the needle slides toward its first groove. The brothers smile brilliantly; one leans a fraction of an inch toward the other and, never losing eye contact with Dorcas, whispers something. The other looks Dorcas up and down as she moves toward them. Then, just as the music, slow and smoky, loads up the air, his smile bright as ever, he wrinkles his nose and turns away."

Toni Morrison, Jazz

"I don't pass without insults. Let me give you an example. I walk into the Waldorf Astoria in New York to check in. We're going to have a drink, and then my friend is going to go home. She stands behind me, as I check in. Finally, the guy says, "Oh, are you registering too?" He thought I was the maid. My friend was trembling with anger. It was so personal. But the irony of it was that I was on the cover of a magazine that month, and there were these posters with my face on them all over New York."

Toni Morrison, interview with The Guardian, 19 September 2004

"I can't explain inspiration. A writer is either compelled to write or not. And if I waited for inspiration I wouldn't really be a writer."

Toni Morrison

"I always looked upon the acts of racist exclusion, or insult, as pitiable, from the other person. I never absorbed that. I always thought that there was something deficient -- intellectual, emotional -- about such people."

Toni Morrison, The Salon Interview, February 1998

"There are racial differences among us. Exaggerated and exploited for political and economic purposes. And we have a great deal of baggage, personal feelings about other races because the society has been constructed along racial division. But in fact, when we meet another person one on one, and we know or recognize their race, we pull from that large suitcase of stereotypical information, of learned responses, of habitual reaction, which is the easiest and the laziest way to evaluate other people. The difficult thing and the important thing is to know people as individuals. So knowing that an individual is Asian or white or black is knowing next to nothing."

Toni Morrison

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