Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Describe The Words to Say It and its subject matter.

The Words to Say It chronicles Marie Cardinal's struggle with madness and healing. She went to therapy after a Louis Armstrong concert. Cardinal even suggests to her therapist that he not keep a gargoyle in his office.

2. What does Toni Morrison think about Marie Cardinal's book?

Toni Morrison was persuaded to read The Words to Say It by Marie Cardinals by the title. Morrison read the book, and it spawned many questions for her. At the same time, she was skeptical about the book being purely autobiographical.

3. Describe the dichotomies Morrison presents as being necessary for black people to fulfill.

According to Morrison, black people must fill many dichotomies. One of these is to be benevolent and wicked. Others are spiritual and voluptuous and sinful but enticing. Black people are also demanded to be symbols of both purity and restraint.

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