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Toni Morrison Speaks To Cadets At West Point After “Home” Finds Place In Their English Curriculum

Toni Morrison doesn’t hold her tongue on anything she deems important for the masses to know. At 82, she has earned that right. 

In speaking with freshman cadets at the United States Military Academy, Morrison expressed her views on the war in Iraq and shared her inspiration for her latest book, “Home.” The novel, about a Korean war veteran named Frank Money, who is struggling with PTSD and the segregated south, is part of the English curriculum at West Point. Lt. Col. Scott Chancellor, director of the freshman English program, selected the book for their classes thanks to its relevant messages to troops today, particularly as it touched on race and trauma. 

Col. Scott Krawczyk, the head of the academy’s English and philosophy programs, tied the book’s themes into the larger picture of the academy’s training: 

“At West Point we ensure that cadets are made to struggle with moral ambiguity, so that when they confront tangled scenarios, they will be able to do that well. Morrison gives us just enough psychological complication of Frank Money to open up an understanding of how desperately malignant the realm of war can be.”

During the conversation, Morrison was vocal about her disdain for the war in Iraq (“I dare you to tell me a sane reason we went to Iraq”) and expressed concern about the number of veteran suicides (a recent report shows the suicide rate for veterans has risen 22% in the past 14 years). 

For more on the speech, read the full article here

Watch below as Morrison talks about “Home” and her intention to explore the themes of masculinity, war, and race. 

Watch In Toni Morrison’s ‘Home,’ Soldier Fights War, Racism on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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