a search for home

Table of Contents

In the novel Home, by Toni Morrison, the reader follows the story of Frank Money, an African American veteran from Lotus, Gerogia who battles with P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), a consequence of his time spent in the Korean War. He joins the army as an escape of his dreadful reality in Lotus, leaving behind a cherished yet vulnerable sister, Cee Money. He returns to the United States during a post-war era, coupled with racial violence and segregation towards people of color. During his journey, he encounters several characters which each serve as a message, causing him to learn or unlearn something. The concrete problem that Frank faces is that of rescuing his younger sister Cee after finding out that she was in danger. The journey that Frank takes to find his “Home” becomes a deeper understanding of his challenges with PTSD, his masculinity, and the greater awareness of his self-identity. This journey of self-expression becomes a larger discussion about our own internal struggles, what they are, how we deal with them, why we experience them.Frank’s PTSD and the numerous difficulties he is confronted with in his daily endeavors is the subject throughout the novel. How these conflicts intersect to shape the character of Frank Money is the focus point that helps tell his journey from mental illness to mental health. At the same time, as the older brother and individual who raised his own sister, he holds the challenge and responsibility of being the gaurdian of Cee. As the novel begins, Frank finds himself in a mental institution, where he has been drugged and strapped to a bed. He is clueless as to how or why he got there. He only knows that he must escape. After freeing himself from the ward, he takes refuge with a minister where he is provided with a shelter, food, clothes, and some money for his journey back to Georgia. This is where he is summoned to help save his gravely ill sister. Along the way, he reflects on his experiences during the war, his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Lily, and the discrimination he faces as an African American man in 1950s America. Frank is haunted by the memories of his childhood in Lotus and the horrors he witnesses overseas in Korea. When he recieves the news that Cee had been taken by a psychotic doctor and was in danger, Frank regains the sense of purpose he had lost in his life, voyaging out to rescue his sister in Atlanta. Cee had become subject to the experiments of a doctor named Beauregard Scott, an repentant Confederate, who was interested in eugenics and fascinated with wombs. When Frank arrives in Atlanta, Cee had already become infertile. Frank had described finding her as “fatigued”, “thin”, and “bleeding intensely between the legs”(115). His journey in search of Cee exemplifies his journey of recovering from his mental illness, finding new discoveries about himself and experiencing multiple setbacks along the way. When Frank and Cee arrive to Lotus, she is taken to Miss Ethel Fordham’s house to be cured. Although she is nursed back to health, their cures could not reverse the infertility that Dr. Beauregard’s eugenic experiments caused. During his journey back to Georgia, Frank recalls his adolescent childhood in Lotus, his eagerness to fight in the war, but also the horrific deaths of his best friends, Mike and Stuff. He also recalls the time when “a gaurd” shot a Korean girl in the face after he was “tempted by the way she stroked his crotch”. He later admits that it was him. The how is more tricky. As we said before, he encountered many characters which each provide him a message that he uses to help him in his journey. Frank takes a walk through the city one day wheere he see’s a little girl “bleeding and vomiting”, provoking a strong emtional response in him. He feels depressed and spends days feeling out of sorts. He then see’s his reflection and found himself “pitiful-looking”, it forces him to make a change within himself. He decides to clean himself up, ridding of his previous character so that he could make himself and his vellow veterans proud. Frank takes his clothes to a dry cleaner’s, and that was where he meets Lily, Frank’s ex-girlfriend. Lily assumes that Frank suffers from “insanity” and cannot hold down a job because he is traumatized by memories of the Korean War. Lily is relieved when Frank leaves her to find his sister, allowing her to have control over her life and apartment.The relationship between Lily and Frank began very quickly, as she helped him regain a measure of control over his life. His brief romantic interest allowed him to realize that he is so damaged from the traumas of war that he in incapable of finding love. For Frank, fighting in the war meant freedom of sorts, because it offered him an escape from his dreadful existence in Lotus, Georgia, the type of town where “there was no future, only long stretches of killing time”. We see at the beginning of the book that his description of Lotus, Georgia is very negative, he hates it, its very grey, he describes it as without life. “there [is] no goal other than breathing, nothing to win and, save for somebody else’s quiet death, nothing to survive or worth surviving for”.In contrast to the battlefield, he thinks its the first time he feels alive. Towards the end of the book, we discover that his perception has changed, color is restored, kids are playing, the sun is out, the families are safe, its warm, its welcoming. Essentially, this is his realization of what it takes to heal and what it means to come home.The why is difficult, why does frank money go through this experience. Why does Toni Morrison write about these struggles? The main reason is for him to overcome his internal conflicts but to also conclude the central theme about the individual definition of “Home”. Recovering from mental illness includes not only getting better, but achieving a full and satisfying life. Frank’s journey to recovery encompassed setbacks and numerous conflicts, but positive changes allows Frank to rescue his sister and find his home. The pain of mental illness, coupled with such losses, can be overwhelming. Yet at some point Frank finds the determination to stop just surviving, and start gaining back life, piece by piece. That is when his recovery begins. It seems clear that Frank, too, is hurt to his core but still alive. His whole life he has battled through different struggles, each of which define who he is. Traveling back to Georgia, the reader discovers the reality of an ill veteran, the terros of combat in war and the traumas of adolescence in the South. Throughout his own journey, Frank is tested of his moral strength to find his manhood and ultimately, his Home. Simultaneously, the journey back home and the interactions Frank makes with other characters demonstrate several morals. For example, Home is also about the healing power of women; those being Miss Ethel Fordham and her friends in Lotus who nursed Cee back to health in her time of need. Home is a testiment to the era in which soldiers return from the battlefields, the places rest of society cannot fully understand. The story of a brother and sister during the time of racial violence. This book discusses the devastating effects of war on those who fight in it and the journey many of them take to find their home. Frank’s story helps remind the reader of the importance of fully understanding a individual before making any conclusions about them. Secondly, Morrison states that despite the conditions we may face before we departure from our homes, Home is where one can go to freely express themselves, awat from life-threatening conditions that the world may offer.