Last Updated on February 2, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle
Toni Morrison is a literary icon who has captivated readers with her beautifully written novels, essays, and speeches for decades. Her words offer profound insights into the complexities of life, love, and identity. In this article, I’m taking a closer look at ten of her most inspiring quotes that are sure to touch your heart and move your soul.
10 Toni Morrison Quotes That Will Move Your Soul
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the thing that weighs you down.”
This powerful quote from her novel Song of Solomon encourages us to let go of the things that hold us back in order to reach our full potential. It’s a reminder that sometimes we have to make sacrifices and leave behind what is comfortable in order to truly soar. Whether it’s relationships, habits, or beliefs, letting go of what’s holding you back is the key to soaring.
“Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it’s easy, you are a fool. If you think it’s natural, you are blind.”
This profound insight into the nature of love was expressed by Toni Morrison in her novel “Paradise.” Morrison conveys the harsh truth about love, that it’s not an easy journey, nor is it a natural process, but a divine and challenging path that shapes our lives.
“Anger… it’s a paralyzing emotion… you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling. I don’t think it’s any of that… it’s helpless… it’s absence of control – and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers… and anger doesn’t provide any of that, I have no use for it whatsoever.”
In this striking quote, Toni Morrison offers a deep reflection on anger, presenting it as a confining emotion that hinders productivity and growth. Contrary to popular belief, she dissects the concept with a critical eye, stripping it away from any romanticized vision of passion or ignition. The essence of her argument lies in the understanding that anger represents a loss of control and power, acting as a roadblock in the utilization of one’s full potential. Therefore, she positions herself as having no use for anger, indicating the value she places on maintaining control and harnessing her abilities. This poignant quote serves as a reminder to channel our emotions in a constructive manner, prioritizing control and power over the paralyzing grip of anger.
“The function of freedom is to free someone else.”
Toni Morrison captivates us with this profound quote that transforms our understanding of freedom. It implores us to consider freedom not as a solitary state of being but as a collective responsibility. According to Morrison, the true essence of being free lies in our ability to use that freedom to liberate others. This could manifest in various ways, from fighting for social injustices and sharing knowledge and resources to empowering others to break out of their own chains. It suggests that freedom is not a self-contained accomplishment but a continuous process that becomes truly meaningful when it is shared and extended to others. This transformative quote serves as a call to action — it pushes us to evaluate our freedoms and privileges and use them to drive change, thus making freedom a dynamic and shared experience.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
This quote captures Toni Morrison’s empowering perspective on creativity and self-expression. It encourages us to take control of our narratives and to contribute our unique voices to the world’s literary symphony. The quote embodies the essence of innovation and pioneering spirit, inspiring us to not just passively consume content, but also to create and contribute to the cultural landscape. In essence, if there is a story you wish to hear, a perspective you desire to understand, and it does not exist yet, then it becomes your responsibility to bring that into existence. It’s a call to action for us all to become the authors of our own lives and the stories we wish existed. This insightful quote is a testament to Morrison’s belief in the power and importance of individual narratives in enriching and diversifying our collective understanding.
“Your life is already artful, waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.”
This quote is a captivating testament to Toni Morrison’s perspective on life and creativity. It suggests that every individual’s life, with its unique experiences, emotions, and relationships, is already a masterpiece in its own right. However, it’s our active participation and conscious transformation that shapes these raw, artful experiences into ‘art.’ The phrase infuses a sense of potential and anticipation – the idea that our lives are brimming with untapped opportunities that are simply waiting to be realized. It’s a call for us to embrace our creative capacities, take charge, and transform our lives from mere existence to meaningful art. This quote, like Morrison’s body of work, underscores the power of individual experience and the potential of personal narratives to create compelling and impactful art.
“If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”
This insightful quote taken from Toni Morrison’s novel, “Song of Solomon,” suggests the idea of surrendering to the elements of life that are beyond our control instead of resisting them. The metaphor of the ‘air’ could symbolize a variety of things – fate, time, or even our own fears and anxieties. By surrendering to these, we don’t lose control, but instead, we gain the ability to ride along with them. This quote encourages us to let go of our need to control every aspect of life and instead trust in the journey and the process. It’s a testament to the power of acceptance, resilience, and the courage to move with the currents of life rather than against them.
“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”
In this quote from her novel Beloved, Morrison challenges our concept of defining and labeling individuals. She asserts that definitions are crafted by those in positions of power and privilege, ultimately shaping how we see ourselves and others. It’s a poignant commentary on the impact of societal structures on individual identity.
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
This profound quote by Toni Morrison illuminates the transient nature of life and the enduring power of language. It acknowledges the inevitable reality of mortality, but it juxtaposes this with the enduring, immortal nature of language. Morrison suggests that while our lives may be finite, the language we create, use, and leave behind serves as the real gauge of our existence. It’s through language – our stories, our ideas, our expressions – that we truly live on. This perspective transforms the concept of legacy, moving it away from the physical and temporal towards the intangible and eternal. It’s a striking testament to the power of words and narratives in shaping our individual and collective journeys through life. In essence, our lives might be measured not by our lifespan but by the impact of our language – the stories we tell, the ideas we share, the dialogues we instigate, and the understandings we foster.
“All good art is political! There is none that isn’t. And the ones that try to tell you that it’s not political are the ones that are politicizing the work.”
This quote by Toni Morrison encapsulates her belief in the innate political nature of all art forms. According to her, good art is inherently political as it reflects, challenges, and shapes societal conditions and beliefs. It engages with the world, stirs conversations, and provokes thought, often becoming an instrument of change. Morrison challenges the notion of ‘apolitical’ art, arguing that the denial of art’s political nature is a political act in itself. This assertion makes us reflect on how art is interpreted, consumed, and commodified within our society. Morrison’s quote is a compelling commentary on the potent intersection of art and politics, emphasizing the critical role of art in societal discourse and transformation.
Frequently Asked Questions about Toni Morrison Quotes
What is the best quote from Toni Morrison’s Beloved?
The best quote from Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” is subjective, as it depends on personal interpretation and connection. However, one of the most powerful and often cited quotes is: “Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.” This quote stands out for its profound commentary on power dynamics and individual identity. It challenges the reader to rethink how societal labels and definitions can impact perception and self-concept. The power of this quote lies in its universality, as despite being extracted from a specific narrative context, its insight holds true across different contexts and experiences.
What are the best quotes from The Bluest Eye?
The “best” quotes from Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” are subjective and may vary depending on individual preference and interpretation. However, several quotes from this novel stand out for their profound insights. Here are a few selected ones:
- “Love is never any better than the lover.” This quote reflects on the nature of love and the power dynamics within relationships, suggesting that love can only be as good as the people who give and receive it.
- “We mistook violence for passion, indolence for leisure, and thought recklessness was freedom.” This quote offers a critique of societal norms and misconceptions, challenging our understanding of freedom, passion, and leisure.
- “I knew I was an ugly girl. I knew it was true because no one ever said it differently.” This quote underscores the novel’s central theme of beauty standards and the devastating impact they can have on an individual’s self-perception and worth.
- “Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do.” This quote reframes the concept of beauty, presenting it not as a passive attribute but as a proactive and empowering act.
These quotes, like Morrison’s entire body of work, invite reflection on societal standards, identity, and the human condition.
For more on The Bluest Eye, check out: A Deep Dive Into Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.
Who said perhaps that’s what all human relationships boil down to Would you save my life or would you take it?
The quote, “Perhaps that’s what all human relationships boil down to: Would you save my life? or would you take it?” is from Toni Morrison’s novel “Song of Solomon.” This potent line captures the essence of human connection and conflict, leaving the reader to ponder on the ultimate question of loyalty and betrayal within relationships. It serves as a stark reminder of the high stakes often inherent in our interactions with others. This quote is yet another example of Morrison’s remarkable ability to encapsulate complex human experiences in a few profound words.
What do you think about these Toni Morrison quotes?
Have you read any books by Toni Morrison? What quotes would you add to this list? Let’s talk all about Toni Morrison quotes in the comments below.
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