Bittersweet in Toni Morrison’s “Sweetness”

Tuesday’s Short Story,  November 16, 2021

Sweetness  by Toni Morrison  (2015)

I told her to call me “Sweetness” instead of “Mother” or “Mama.” It was safer … calling me “Mama” would’ve confused people. Besides, she has funny-colored eyes, crow black with a blue tint—something witchy about them, too.”

This story will grab you by the throat.  The mother is speaking about her daughter Lula Ann. We all know that how we treat a child has profound effects for a long time, and this is especially true in this story by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison. The story is a force about race, parenting, and color—a bit savage too, and so incredibly honest that you will not be able to stop reading. The mother-daughter relationship going on is earth-shattering. I found the storytelling to haunt me to the point where I had to reread it. Heartbreak and redemption, bold, yep, it’s all here in full Morrison raw yet graceful style. This short fiction is a prelude to Morrison’s bestseller God Help the Child.


Read it here at New Yorker Magazine:


Listen to the audio. A marvelous reading! I give it an A+.



Toni Morrison  (1931-2019) was a Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, essayist, editor, and  college professor. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. The critically acclaimed Song of Solomon brought her national attention and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Morrison was born Chloe Adelia Wofford; “Toni” is a nickname derived from Anthony her baptismal name, which she began using because people had trouble pronouncing Chloe. She wrote her college thesis on suicide in reference to the work of Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner. She didn’t own a television until she was in college.


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4 responses to “Bittersweet in Toni Morrison’s “Sweetness”

  1. Interesting about Morrison’s Chloe-Anthony-Toni name. “Sweetness” sounds emotional and enthralling.

    Liked by 1 person

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