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Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis - Boise State University Access Only

Degree Title

Master of Arts in English Literature



Major Advisor

Reshmi Mukherjee, Ph.D.


Jeffrey W. Westover, Ph.D.


Dora Alicia Ramirez, Ph.D.


By maintaining an “I”/“other” dynamic through the dehumanizing of the economically disadvantaged African American population, unequal distribution of wealth, lack of education and employment opportunity, and mass violence, the government creates an environment that leads to systemic violence within African American communities. This thesis asserts that Toni Morrison addresses this violence through a post-colonial theoretical lens, which incorporates both sexism and racism as a catalyst for destructive behavior by African Americans; a behavior which is established through imitation of dominant white violent actions. It does this through a study of the historical platform that Morrison’s Paradise (1997) is based upon and relates this historical violence to the novel’s moment of crisis, the massacre at the convent. Doing so develops the theory that the novel’s violence is the mimicry of colonial action. Supporting texts by Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, and Aimé Césaire assist in connecting violence to patriarchal sexism, racism, and post-colonial theory while Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899) and Morrison’s Jazz (1992) assist in the illustration of post-colonial movements and cycles of violence through comparative study with Paradise. Careful consideration is given to the role both Christian and Western African religions play in the formation of violence based on difference. Scholarship by Alfred J. Rabetau and La Vinia Delois Jennings establishes a Christian and African religious presence in African American history as well as it’s connection to Morrison’s novels.