Morrison on Hotels

As we come to the end of Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye in AP English, I came across the following passage about the nature of hotels, written in a letter by the character Soaphead Church.

It reminded me — as, yeah, okay, everything always does — of Barton Fink.

A hotel room is a place to be when you are doing something else. Of itself it is of no consequence to one’s major scheme. A hotel room is convenient. But its convenience is limited to the time you need it while you are in that particular town on that particular business; you hope it is comfortable, but prefer, rather, that it be anonymous. It is not, after all, where you live.

When you no longer need it, you pay a little something for its use; say, “Thank you, sir,” and when your business in that town is over, you go away from that room. Does anybody regret leaving a hotel room? Does anybody, who has a home, a real home somewhere, want to stay there? Does anybody look back with affection, or even disgust, at a hotel room when they leave it? You can only love or despise whatever living was done in that room. But the room itself? But you take a souvenir. Not, oh,  not, to remember the room. To remember, rather, the time and the place of your business, your adventure. (Original emphasis.)

It also reminds me of Henry James, who spoke in his travelogue The American Scene, of the “hotel-civilization” so prevalent in the US.

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