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Travel and Home in Homer's Odyssey and Contemporary LiteratureCritical Encounters and Nostalgic Returns$
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Carol Dougherty

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198814016

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198814016.001.0001

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“Come brother. Let’s go home”

“Come brother. Let’s go home”

Restorative Nostalgia in Toni Morrison’s Home

(p.115) 5 “Come brother. Let’s go home”
Travel and Home in Homer's Odyssey and Contemporary Literature

Carol Dougherty

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers a reading of Toni Morrison’s 2012 novel Home, telling the story of a Korean War veteran’s return to the USA and his attempts to find his way in the racially segregated America of the 1950s. Discharged from the army and suffering from what we would now call post-traumatic shock syndrome, Frank Money reluctantly heads to Atlanta to find his sister and bring her home with him to Georgia—in this way, Home not only reverses the northward journey of the Great Migration, but it re-routes Odysseus’ itinerary in interesting ways. Homer’s Odyssey ends rather abruptly, and our delight at the romantic reunion of Odysseus and Penelope distracts us from the poem’s less than satisfactory way of dealing with the violence of war and the challenges of bringing that violence home. Where The Return of the Soldier focuses on the disorientation that follows from its protagonist’s inability to negotiate a successful return home from war, Morrison’s novel draws upon the restorative powers of nostalgia to reconstruct Lotus at the novel’s conclusion as a new and better home than the one Frank left behind, conjuring an image of return that is not defined as the romantic reunion of husband and wife but one that looks instead to the brother–sister family bond to attend to the themes of violence and redemption at the individual, familial, and collective levels.

Keywords:   homecoming, travel, war, home, Odyssey, nostalgia, return, violence, redemption

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