Hunger ‘beyond Appetite’ Nurture Dialect(ic)s in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

  • Asma Hichri High Institute of Humanities of Tunis
Keywords: nurture dialectics, diegetic, appropriation, storytelling, imperial archive


Nurture dialect(ic)s is a central motif in Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987). From a cursory reading, the novel reveals the extent to which the African American experience of repression and dispersal is informed by the dialectics of hunger, cannibalism, and appropriation. Yet, a close reading of the narrative reveals that the dynamics of hunger and ingestion are mainly psychological and narratological. A thorough investigation of these dynamics invites an exploration of nurture imagery in the novel as well as its sociological, anthropological, historical and spatial inscriptions. This paper traces the various manifestations of the hunger/ingestion motif in Beloved and its implications at the psychological and diegetic levels, mapping out the connection between hunger and storytelling as a form of resistance. At a deeper level, however, the novel also evinces how the hunger/ingestion dialectics inform not only African Americans’ emotional and spiritual deprivation, but also the diegetic in(di)gestion, disadjustments, and dis(re)memberment of their history and identity. Through mapping out the fusion between the intra-diegetic and extra-diegetic, this essay ultimately argues that Morrison’s transgressive re-reading/re-writing of the imperial archive of black history and identity essentially requires both a visceral reliving of [its] trauma[s]” (Young 9) and a parodic o/aural and narratological reinscription of its predatory patterns. 

Author Biography

Asma Hichri, High Institute of Humanities of Tunis

Asma Hichri teaches English literature and Anglophone literature at the Department of English of the High Institute of Humanities of Tunis, Tunisia. Her fields of interest include South African literature, African American literature, 20th century fiction, and postmodernist and postcolonial studies.

In 2007, she graduated from L’Ecole Normale Superieure de Tunis (Agregation), and then registered for a doctoral degree. She has completed her dissertation and submitted it for defence. (Thesis title: Re-visioning Realism: Parody and Postmodernist Poetics in Nadine Gordimer’s Fiction).