Home Summary & Study Guide

Toni Morrison

Home

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  • Features 17 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
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Home Summary & Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 38-page guide for “Home” by Toni Morrison includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 17 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The African-American Experience in the 1950s and Violence and Sexuality.

Plot Summary

First published in 2012, Home, written by Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison, tells the story of Frank Money, a 24-year-old black Korean War veteran who is summoned to Atlanta, Georgia, to rescue his sister, Cee. He receives a note that reads “‘Come fast. She be dead if you tarry’” (8) from an unknown woman. The main story of the novel begins with Frank’s escape from a hospital’s mental health ward. He was put in the ward because, on his way to visit Cee, he lapsed into erratic behavior and was discovered by the police. Frank’s ambitious ex-girlfriend, Lily, assumes that Frank suffers from bouts of insanity and cannot hold down a job because he is traumatized by memories of the Korean War. Preferring to have control over her life and apartment, Lily is relieved when Frank leaves her to find his sister.

The third-person narrator’s story of Frank’s journey to find Cee is interspersed with Frank’s own shorter first-person narrative of his life experiences and his thoughts on the narrator’s endeavor. Frank spent his childhood with Cee in the backward town of Lotus, Georgia. The children of indifferent parents, Frank and Cee are despised by their step-grandmother, Lenore, who mistreats them. Lenore thinks that Cee is especially deplorable because she was born on the road, following the Money family’s eviction from their Texas farm.

Meanwhile, sheltered by Frank since childhood, Cee does not build up any defenses of her own. Once Frank enlists in the army and leaves Lotus, Cee falls for Principal (or “Prince,” as he calls himself), a man from out of town who marries her and carries her off to Atlanta in the family Ford. After barely a month of marriage, Principal runs off with the car, leaving Cee to fend for herself in Atlanta. When Cee needs more money than her kitchen job can provide, she finds a job as the assistant of a Dr. Beauregard Scott. She admires the doctor and misses the signs of his malpractice, though he immediately asks her about her sexual experience and has race science books on his shelf.

On his long journey to Georgia, Frank remembers his adolescent restlessness in Lotus, his excitement about fighting in Korea, and the brutal deaths of his best buddies, Mike and Stuff. Most disturbingly, he remembers the way a guard shot a Korean child in the face after he was tempted by the way she stroked his crotch.

When Frank arrives in Atlanta, he rescues Cee from Dr. Beauregard’s house. Cee is fatigued, thin, and bleeding intensely between the legs, because Dr. Beauregard has a fascination with wombs and has been experimenting intensely on Cee’s. Frank takes Cee to Miss Ethel Fordham’s house back in Lotus to be cured. Miss Ethel and the neighborhood women banish Frank from the house while they subject Cee to their tough-loving home cures.

Cee is nursed back to health and absorbs some of her healers’ common sense and hardiness. However, their cures cannot reverse the infertility that results from Dr. Beauregard’s experiments. When Cee has visions of a smiling girl-child who needs a mother, Frank is provoked to confess to the narrator that he is the soldier tempted by the little Korean girl and the one who shot her in the face.

Both Frank and Cee grow stronger by facing the uncomfortable truth. The story ends with the two of them visiting a childhood haunt to dig up the body of a man killed in the human equivalent of a dogfight and bury him in a coffin made from Cee’s homemade quilt. When they feel they have made their retributions, they can return home to Lotus, a place where they finally feel they belong.

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