Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
The major Themes in the novel are urbanity and myth concerning one's concept of identity and blackness, nature and its relationship to humans, relationships between men and women and blacks and whites as well as the conflicts arising from keeping one's myths in tact in order to evade confronting oneself. Each of the characters in this novel come to terms with confronting the myths that they have constructed in order to survive. The novel also explores white and black relationships in the villa in terms of the history and myth as well as class. Son's passion for Jadine forms a major theme of the novel. A large part of the novel is devoted to their relationship and its ups and downs due to the differences in ideologies of the two main characters. Apart from them, the other couples in the novel are Valerian and Margaret and Sydney and Ondine. Tar Baby deals with the lives of these characters and gives an insight into their individual minds and their relationships to each other.
A novel about African American people always involves many sub-Themes such as what it means to be black, and the influence of the past on the present as well as what is the relationship that a black person has to his/her community. Each of the black characters in this novel have formed a conception of their "blackness" which varies as well as often conflicts with other characters. Tar Baby is a novel about the many ways to be "black." The difference between urban and rural blacks as well as class differences create misunderstandings among the black characters.
Tar Baby is a novel written in a highly lyrical voice and therefore contains a magical and sometimes ethereal quality. It combines various tones that relate to nature and man, and urbanity and myth. Mostly its mood is focused on the sensuous aspects of nature as well as human relationships, though at times it can be despairing and sad. Some of the mood of the novel is romantic and at times even mysterious and adventurous. Other times it is poetic yet heavily critical of the destruction of a particular way of life. The stream of consciousness method is used to describe the thoughts of the characters and to elaborate on their dreams.