Drowned in irony from the very first line, “Whose house is this?” Home by Toni Morrison is a novel of identity, revolving around the inner battles of the protagonist, veteran Frank Money.
Frank Money did not come from much money, and his life, even his decision to enlist in the army, consisted mostly of running away.
A 24-year-old Korean War veteran, Frank Money returned from war in the 1950s with what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a diagnosis that had no name or place in a still-racist America, and one that left him essentially homeless and alone.
The only thing he felt truly belonged to him was his sister, Cee. So there was no doubt he would do anything – including returning to the home he didn’t consider his home – to save her life.
Having been first forced out of their home in Texas by their resentful step-grandmother’s cruelty, and looked down upon by society, the Moneys were essentially homeless.
After losing his home to hooded men, his parents to lung disease, and his own sanity to the war effort, Frank was not about to lose his sister as well.
Shielded by her brother’s protection all her life, Cee had never felt the vulnerability of making her own choices. So it was no surprise that when Frank departed for the war Cee immediately fell in love and eloped with a visitor, Prince, who in reality was only marrying her to steal her grandfather’s car.
It is through returning home to his sister, and saving her from the maniacal grip of an experimental doctor, that he forces himself to face where “home” is for him.
Returning to the place where he grew up, he must face his memories, his realities and his identity – also his lies and pretenses.
Morrison’s latest novel reflects the various themes of her earlier works, including race, memory, belonging and the differentiation between our fantastical dreams and reality.
Poetic, suspenseful and poignantly revealing, Home leaves you questioning what our own purpose in this world is.