Reconstructing Identity through Voyages in/ out in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child: A Psychogeographical Analysis

Author: Bougherira Hana

Keywords: female identity, God Help the Child, psychogeography, Toni Morrison, voyage in/ out.


People’s voyages to different geographies may have diverse purposes. While some are just flâneurs taking routes aimlessly, others are stalkers with a preliminary idea about the significance of their derives. Aimless or not, the different geographies visited inevitably shape and reshape the walker’s character and psyche. This article analyzes Morrison’s latest novel, God Help the Child (2015), in the prism of the theory of psychogeography, which studies the correlative relation between psyche and geography. The article posits the question how does the novel’s protagonist, Bride, grows from a flâneur to a stalker in the light of the degrading capitalist American society and how do the different voyages out initiate her to some metaphorical voyages in, enabling her to reconstruct her identity as a black female and a future black mother. Bride’s wonderings about her identity, erased by a character called Booker, lead her to wandering to different territories (Decagon, the countryside and whisky) each of which dictates on her new ideologies and ethics, which, in turn, alter her behavior and outlook. The article evetually elucidates how the final station in Bride’s journey is a cathartic one through which she reclaims her freedom, recovers her identity and empowers herself and the black community.