Toni Morrison Discusses Why Good is More Interesting Than Evil

Posted on February 13, 2016

Toni Morrison author photo

The Guardian has an interesting interview with Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. She discusses her most recent novel, God Help the Child, although she says she really does not like the title of the book, which was supposed to be called The Wrath of Children.

She says the theme of the book, which was published in hardcover last spring, is that "what you do to children matters." The book explores large themes of good and evil, racism, child abuse and parenting. This is her 11th novel, after A Mercy. The book centers on a child named Bride who is despised by her parents for having much darker skin than they do. Her father leaves because of the shame of having such a dark child, and her mother is cruel to her to prepare her for the harsh world in her future.

Of course, the mother's actions are quite evil and they emotionally scar the child for life. Bride grows up to be a success in business, but her loveless childhood has shaped her in ways that permeate every aspect of her life. Ms. Morrison says she has been thinking a great deal about good and evil. She doesn't agree that the most evil characters are the most interesting, complex characters.

She explains, "I just think goodness is more interesting. Evil is constant. You can think of different ways to murder people, but you can do that at age five. But you have to be an adult to consciously, deliberately be good -- and that's complicated."

If you missed this powerful novel in hardcover, God Help the Child is out in paperback this month from Vintage, as well as in ebook formats.

Photo: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders