114th Annual Conference - Pasadena, California
Friday, November 11 - Sunday, November 13, 2016

When Your Hero is Not a Hero and Your Victim is Not a Victim: An Evasive Description of Murdering a Korean Girl in Toni Morrison’s Home

Set-Byul Moon, Ewha Womans University, South Korea

This paper explores how a black war vet protagonist is described as a victim in Toni Morrison’s tenth novel, Home, and how readers should understand this victim’s murder during the Korean War. Face it--your hero may not be a hero and you may not be the only victim here.


This paper may touch very sensitive part of which both the America and Korea share during the Korean War by examining Toni Morrison’s novel Home. Toni Morrison’s tenth novel, Home (2012), illustrates how a self-loathing, traumatized black veteran of the Korean War, Frank Monkey, survives and comes home with his sister, Cee. It looks like this is a story of victims wounded by racial discrimination in the Jim Crow era. His juvenile memory of witnessing a black man lynched and buried alive haunts him all the time and this is why the final closure of this novel ends when Frank and Cee buries the remains of the black man in a proper place with a proper marker and with a proper ceremony he deserves. As a Korean reader, however, a black war veteran killing a defenseless young Korean girl makes me wonder why he does not atone for his crime when he moans his fellow person. Surely, it seems that many reviewers mention Frank’s murder of a nameless Korean girl, but they only do this when they want to describe how traumatized memory it was to Frank and how this murder is furtively related to Frank’s incestuous desire for Cee. Maybe some may notice this scene is not quite right, yet they cannot articulate there is something wrong because you cannot blame what has happened in the war because you were not there. Or, maybe the victims have to remain as victims always. You do not want to disturb their safe place. Let’s face it. “Yum-yum.” The dead girl’s voice lingers Frank’s mind and yours. It’s time to admit that your hero is not a hero and your victim is not a victim—sometimes.