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Water and African American MemoryAn Ecocritical Perspective$
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Anissa Janine Wardi

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813037455

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813037455.001.0001

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Arteries of the Nation

Arteries of the Nation

Rivers of Redemption in Toni Morrison's Beloved and Henry Dumas's “Ark of Bones” (p.62)

(p.61) 2 Arteries of the Nation
Water and African American Memory

Anissa Janine Wardi

University Press of Florida

This chapter reads rivers as a synecdoche of the nation. Historically, rivers were both arteries of the slave trade and conduits to freedom, as their surrounding geographies determined such conditions. While danger is part of the larger conceptualization of the rivers, the catharsis provided by these rushing waters is unmistakable. Thus, the chapter examines the sanctuary that the Ohio and the Mississippi offer, identifying rivers as spaces of absolution and spiritual healing. Particular focus is placed on Toni Morrison's Beloved and Henry Dumas' “Ark of Bones,” as the Atlantic Ocean morphs into the rivers Mississippi and Ohio.

Keywords:   Toni Morrison, Beloved, Henry Dumas, Ark of Bones, Ohio River, Mississippi River, Middle Passage

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