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14) Claudia's destruction of the doll is a complex response which requires us to understand how Western culture, as McLaughlin explains, 'inspires hatred toward and among people of African descent, inducing destructive behaviours and an equally adverse disconnection from anything not western' (Braxton and McLaughlin, 1990, p. 170). In removing the various parts of the toy, Claudia dismantles the structure which constitutes and sustains it as an emblem of white beauty. Again, this is anticipated in the way in which the mythology of 30 Toni Morrison the primer is increasingly dismantled in the preface - the extract is reprinted, first without the punctuation and then with the spacing removed as weIl until all the letters run into each other.
As McDowell points out, the novel frequently 'forces us to question our readings, to hold our judgement in check, and to continually revise it' (McKay, 1988,86). Toni Morrison In creating characters who defy received assumptions about how black women should behave, Morrison confronts the larger problem facing African-American women writers which we mentioned in the introduction: a legacy in which black women are either idealised or portrayed negatively. Elleke Boehmer argues, African literature in the past 'has constituted anationalist and patriarch al preserve' (Nasta, 1991,9).
Even the verbs are held in check there are no adverbs and the sentences do not expand to embrace or convey the excitement of laughing or smiling or running; not even the dog's bark appears to interrupt this carefully constructed and ordered world. Claudia remembers the segregated Lake Shore Park for being welliaid out and ordered, a quality embodied in the 'clean, white, wellbehaved children and parents' (81). It has an illusory air to it which anticipates the interior of the 'proud' white house where Pauline becomes a servant.