Art of Storytelling and the Role of Memory in the Novels of Morrison’s Beloved and Louise Erdrich’s Tracks

C. L. Shilaja

Associate Professor, Department of English, Sathyabama University. ORCID: 0000-0003-4267-4719. Email:

Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.10

Received August 8, 2016; Revised March 3, 2017; Accepted March 10, 2017; Published May 7, 2017.


Storytelling provides an emotional fulfillment both for the narrator and the listener. The paper aims to explore the significance of storytelling and the role of memory in selected works of recent American fiction of Louise Erdrich’s Tracks and Toni Morrison’s Beloved which speaks about the historical experience of Native Americans in dispossession and the long-term effects of slavery. In literary texts, memory often becomes a starting point for a painful therapeutic process of regeneration of one’s roots in order to survive. The painful memories of Afro-Americans and Native Americans as a result of racialized trauma are purged through storytelling and in recounting it as a collective experience between people. Storytelling brings them together engaging them collectively in the events of their lives. As the past and present often overlap with one another it enables them to retrieve their suppressed past. Retrieving the past and sharing their traumatic story gives the opportunity for recovery. Morrison and Erdrich perform the role of a storyteller in narrating the unaccounted through their text since modern communities have no access to the oral narratives of their own past. Storytelling unearths repressed memories in order to find ways of dealing with the pain they cause. Although the writings in the novels of Toni Morrison and Louise Erdrich depict two very different cultures, the Afro-American and the Native American, the trauma which damages the self in their characters is very much similar. This process of narration is essential for the survivors to come to terms with their experience. This narration ultimately creates a sort of emotional distance from the event and makes it less threatening for the characters to reflect upon.  It  is  to  be  remembered that the authors  make  use of this  technique  of storytelling not just to heal the fractures of the readers in the modern psyche but also to rewrite a part of history forgotten by preserving the historical data, their cultural values and the Afro-American and Native American ideas.

Keywords: Morrison, Erdrich, storytelling, memory, trauma.

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