Nobel Lecture by Toni Morison

Toni Morrison’s ‘Nobel lecture’ refers to the lecture that she gave after receiving Nobel Prize for fiction writing. In the lecture, she tells a story of an old woman who is blind but very considered wise. In the story, some youth go to the old lady’s house with one of them carrying a bird in his hand .The group then decide to mock the old lady. They ask her to tell them whether the bird they are carrying is living or dead. The old lady kept quiet for some time as to intimidate them. Later she answers that she did not know whether the bird was alive or dead but she knew that the bird was in a hand. She then told them that the bird is their responsibility and if it was dead then they were the ones who had killed it and if it was not dead then they were going to kill it. It teaches them about the elements of responsibility and that they were going to take responsibility for their mockery to her.

From this instance, she says that the bird symbolizes language and the woman refers to a practiced writer. She says that language is alive and is a system in which the writer is given responsibility. Further more, she says that it is the writer’s role to use language appropriately to communicate and that language may die out of irresponsible use. She thus argues against the use of language for intimidation of the weak in society; women and children. She concludes by stating that fiction is not just an entertainment but work which is supposed to be done with great responsibility.

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