A Postmodern View of Morality in the Works of Morrison, Capote, and O'Brien

ABSTRACT A POSTMODERN VIEW OF MORALITY IN THE WORKS OF MORRISON, CAPOTE, AND O'BRIEN by Kelly Candelaria Master of Arts in English California State University, Chico Summer 2010 Postmodern literature is not the first place that we think to look in order to engage in conversations regarding morality. In fact, most contemporary readers and writers would argue that there has been a chasm built between today’s narratives and our moral concerns. Although there might not be one universal moral truth that postmodern writers are attempting to address in their narratives, the narratives are extremely adept at providing launching points to instigate conversations that center around themes of morality. I shall examine Beloved by Toni Morrison, which deals with slavery in America and was inspired by the life of Peggy Margaret Garner, an American Slave; In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, which investigates the murders of Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas; and In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien, which considers the effects of the Vietnam War. We shall see that the stakes are high. Freedoms come with a price and sometimes the machine of our society needs to be put under a magnifying glass in order to right injustices and inequalities in our world. The natural tendency of the postmodern condition to break away from established mores of the culture and its lack of trust for grand narratives within the society provides a fertile and rich environment for moral questions and concerns regarding our culture to be considered in depth.