Tracing Trauma Through the Generations in Toni Morrison, Art Spiegelman, and Linda Hogan

Open Access
Shroba, Abigail
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • John Edmond Marsh, Thesis Supervisor
  • Xiaoye You, English, Honors Advisor
  • trauma
  • storytelling
  • generations
  • Morrison
  • Spiegelman
  • Hogan
In this thesis, I examine how trauma transcends generations in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, and Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms. In particular, I pay attention to the way the person first affected by trauma approaches telling their story to the next generation in their family. Beloved and Maus demonstrate that attempting to distance the next generation from original trauma by holding stories too close or too high exacerbates or creates traumatic relationships between generations. Solar Storms, however, provides a model of sharing trauma communally and intergenerationally that creates strong ties within the community and between generations. By comparing how stories are told, I find that the willingness to share traumatic experience greatly influences how subsequent generations receive their ancestors’ traumatic past and deal with their own trauma born out of their relationships with family members.