Toni Morisson’s Tar Baby It is often said that it is better to follow your heart instead of your mind because it will never lie to you. However, when you follow your heart you are not always prepared for what the outcome may be. This is proven in Toni Morisson’s novel Tar Baby . Tar Baby is Morrison’s fourth novel and it took three and a half years to write . The story was based on an old African American folk tale about Brer Rabbit and Tar Baby.
This book is said by some to be an excess of what made Morrison’s other books good but despite the criticism the book still made it to the best seller’s list. The story takes place on an isolated island of L’Arbe de la Croix. this was purposely done by Morrison so that the characters would have no way to escape. There were no immediate policemen to call and no neighbors to interfere in the story . The characters were placed in a cage and left to see what would happen. L’ Arbe de la Croix is the vacation home of Valerian Street a retired candy maker and his wife Margaret Street.
The house is also occupied by a black couple, Sydney and Odine, who have been the long time servants of the Street’s. During the time of the story the house is also occupied by Jadine, who is Sydney’s and Odine’s niece. Jadine was took in by the Streets and they paid for her to go to school and become a model. Jadine came down from Paris to contemplate a marriage proposal from a Frenchman and to spend Christmas with her aunt and uncle. Jadine can be considered the tar baby in this story.
She was taken in by the Street’s and opened up to the world that they lived in. She got a wonderful education and traveled all over. She had a sense of security and knew that anything she needed would be given to her by the streets. The streets get another unexpected guest during Christmas. One night when Margaret is up in her room she opens her closet and sees a strange black man sitting there.
She becomes hysterical and runs down the stairs in a panic. Sydney goes upstairs and brings down the intruder everyone in the house is startled by his appearance and ready to call the police. Everyone except Valerian. He invites the intruder to sit down for a drink and this makes Margaret crazy. She runs up to her room and locks herself in her bedroom. We later find out that the intruder is the same man that we encounter in the beginning of the novel on the boat.
The intruder has many names but asks to be called Son. Son Green. Son is the cause of a lot of trouble and he brings out the true side of the characters of this story. After dinner Son is invited to stay for the night in one of the guest rooms. This makes Sydney angry.
He could not understand how Valerian could be so calm in such a situation but despite his anger Sydney does what he is told. The next morning Son come into Jadine’s room, this is their first personal encounter. Jadine is absolutely repulsed by his looks but she is kind to him and they start to talk, the conversation takes a turn for the worse. After making an insulting comment about Jadine he grabs her, presses his body against hers, and starts to smell her. This makes Jadine feel dirty. She finally breaks loose from his grasp and runs to tell Valerian. On her way to Valerian she stops and starts to think about whether she should go and tell or not.
After much thought she decides not to, but also promises herself that she would try to avoid him to the best of her ability. That same day Valerian suggests that Son go to the main island with one of the workers to get some clothes and a hair cut. He comes back the next day and sees Jadine. At first she is amazed by his appearance she could not believe that he was the same guy who she encountered the privies day. Her amazement was not long lasting her memories of the day before quickly came back to her.
Son apologized for his behavior but Jadine does not want to hear anything that he has to say. Son offers to take her on a picnic and she agrees against her better judgment. On the picnic Jadine gets to know more about Son. How he got on the island where he came from and what life he left behind. Everything was going fine until Son started commenting on her feet he became almost obsessed with seeing them and then touching them. Shortly after Son touched her foot Jadine pulled it away and said that she was ready to leave the whole situation made her very uncomfortable.
Even as Jadine walked back to the car she still felt Son’s thumb print on the sole of her foot. Then came the Dinner. Christmas finally arrived and everyone sat down at the table for dinner even Sydney and Ondine. At first it was a little silent, then everything went crazy and everyone’s true feelings came out. Sydney revealed how he felt about Son staying in the house.
Ondine and Margaret got into a huge argument that almost broke out into a fist fight. Ondine let out a big secret that she had been holding back for years. She told everyone that when Michael, the Street’s son, was younger Margaret used to stick him with pins to see him cry or bleed. At that moment everyone just stopped. Margaret admitted to it. Sydney lead Ondine back to their room, Margaret left the dinning room and eventually Son and Jadine left . Valerian sat at the table alone. Sometime during the picnic and the dinner something happened with Jadine and Son.
After they left the dinning room son walked Jadine to her room and the made plans to leave. Son was going to leave first and wait for Jadine in NYC Son agreed because he wanted to be with Jadine. Jadine was happy to go back to NY because she loved the place so much. Jadine and Son just wanted to be together. Jadine didn’t dare tell her aunt about her plans to be with Son she knew that Ondine already had enough problems.
She also knew that Ondine would disapprove. Once Jadine met up with Son in NY they were instantly in each others arms. During the first few days everything is going fine but Jadine starts to bother Son about getting a job or going to school, she feels that she is doing all the work in the relationship. Son is not interested in doing either at that moment. He is not comfortable in NY and is trying to convince Jadine to go back to his hometown Eloe with him. After a lot of convincing Jadine finally agrees to go with him. Eloe is a small town in Florida with a few people and even less houses.
Jadine is not use to this kind of atmosphere and is ready to leave the second she gets there. The one thing that makes the trip even worse is the fact that Son’s family is very religious. Since Son and Jadine are not married, Jadine must stay at Son’s aunt’s house. Jadine is in a little room with no windows and feels cramped. Jadine is glad when it is time to leave but son asks her to stay one more day she agrees unwillingly.
The next day the same thing happens and Son asks Jadine to stay one more day this time she refuses and tells Son that she will go back to NY by herself. Son agrees to this and promises that he would be there in the next few days. More than a few days pass and Jadine doesn’t even hear from Son. More than a week later Son shows up and Jadine is mad. This causes an argument which is quickly ended like all the others.
In the days to follow the arguments increase and get worse. Jadine and Son argue about everything, money, Son going to school, living in NY. Ironically no matter how bad the argument it never lasted long and they always ended up in each others arms. On day the argument got so bad that Son held Jadine out the second story window by her arms. A few minutes later when the police came to the door they thought that they had the wrong house.
The apartment of loving couple that answered the door could not have been the same apartment where a man had a woman dangling out of the window. One day Jadine could not take it anymore. After a huge argument Son stormed out of the house and Jadine at that moment decided to leave and not look back. She realized that her relationship with Son was a big mistake. Jadine left NY and went back to L’Arbe de la Croix.
She tells Ondine about her time with Son and she told Ondine that she knows that she was wrong and if Son was to come looking for her not to tell him where she went. Ondine readily agrees to do this. Jadine gets some stuff and leaves for Paris. Meanwhile, when Son returns to the apartment he is surprised not to see Jadine there. He sits and waits for her. He refuses to leave the house in fear that she might come back while he is gone. After about a week Son decides to go back to L’ Arbe de la Croix to see if she went there. When he reaches the main land he goes by the helper, Gideon, from Valerian’s house that brought him to town the first time.
Son asks Gideon to take him to the small island but Gideon says that it is to late. Gideon’s wife on the other hand offers to take Son. Gideon’s wife is partly blind but she claims to know the sea well and Son takes her up on the offer. Gideon’s wife takes Son to a part of the island that Son never ventured to. It is dark and Son does not know where to go.
Gideon’s wife says to trust her and just get out the boat and follow the path. The story ends there and we do not find out what becomes of Jadine or Son. Jadine and Son are a prime example of listening to your heart and not your mind. They rushed into their relationship and did not know enough about each other to make a reasonable decision. Jadine was trying to run from something and Son was not in love he was in lust.
If they had taken the time to know each other better they might have realized that they were two different people. Just as in the folk tail of Brer Rabbit and Tar Baby, Son (the rabbit ) was attracted to Jadine (Tar Baby ) and got caught in a trap. Jadine and Son were from two different worlds that could not come together. In the end Jadine realized that she made a mistake but Son still held on to the past and ended up right where he started. Lost. Book Reports.