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This research paper focuses on analyzing a novel entitled 'Beloved' written by an incredible author by the name Toni Morrison. She was born in Loraine, Ohio on Feb 1931.She schooled at Loraine High School, later she was addimmited in Howard University where she graduated in 1953 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and a minor in Classics. Toni Morrison went on to further her education at Cornel University to get a Masters degree in English in 1955.While studying at the University she also taught English to the undergraduates. Toni Morrison was much focused to specialize in her career, she became an editor at Random House in 1967.She went on to write novels, Beloved is her fifth novel. It is considered one of her great works that credited her many awards including Pulitzer Prize and a Nobel Peace Prize in literature in 1993..She was later named the 1996 Jefferson Lecturer in the humanities by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).This lectureship is the top honor given by the U.S. for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. "Toni Morrison is one of the greatest contemporary novelists, "said NEH chairman Dr.Sheldon Hackaney. (Waldron, Clarance, 1996).Other writers have found Toni Morrison a great writer and have wished to do a movie of her novel. For instance, Oprah is interested in turning Toni Morrison's masterpiece in into a feature film. (Oprah and Danny, 1998).This research paper analyzes the commendable work of Toni Morrison in the novel Beloved, addressing the plot of the novel, followed by the themes in the novel.
The novel gives a story of mother and her daughter Sethe and Denver respectively who try to flee from slavery. Their house is frequently visited by a ghost which later kills one of Sethe's daughter ,leaving Sethe's younger daughter Denver, with her mother.Sethe 's sons Howard and Buglar also run away from home in fear of the ghost that killed their sister and torments their family frequently .Later, Baby Suggs , the mother to Sethe's husband Halle, dies in her bed. The deaths and disappearance of Sethes's family members leave her daughter with no friends, very lonely and still worried.
The story continues when the writer introduces another character, Paul D.He had worked in the same slavery home together with the late Baby Suggs,Sethe and Halle. When Paul gets to Sethe's house, he tries to cheer them up assisting them to heal from the sad moments of their past. He tries to chase the ghost out of Sethe's house by taking Sethe and Denver far away from their home. Paul's efforts are in vain since on their return back home, they come across a young woman sited outside their house.Supringly, she resembles Denver's sister and she calls herself, Beloved. The ghost appears to have charmed Sethe and Paul D.Only Denver recognizes that the young woman is a reincarnation of her dead sister. A supernatural force mysteriously forces Paul D out Sethes's house.
The story gets more interesting when Paul D. is pushed in a corner by Beloved who has charmed him. She forces him to have sex with her but Paul feels guilty to disclose his agenda to impregnate this mysterious girl to Sethe.Paul opts to tell the story to his workmates who strictly warn him to keep away from Sethe informing him that mysterious girl was the reason why the community rejected Sethe. When Paul D. gets home, he is anxious and questions Sethe why the society rejected her.Sethe decides to tell Paul the reality.
The writer is seen to use the flashback by allowing Sethe narrate the sad story .She begins by telling him what happened when she few from slavery in Sweet Home, she went to her mother-in law's house where he children were waiting. When her master discovered that she had escaped, he tried to claim her back.Sethe tried to kill all of her children before she went back to slavery. She managed to kill the first daughter who was only 2 years old. She comes to believe the young woman Beloved, is the daughter she murdered at a tender age.Sethe says that she did not intend to destroy her but to save her from slavery. She says that she was '...trying to put my babies where they would be safe.'Sethe now feels guit y but Beloved was not going to forgive her. She tortures Sethe until she is not willing to eat.
In the climax of this interesting novel, Beloved is shown to have grown big, and Denver the youngest sister searches spiritual assistance from the blacks. People exorcise the demons out of Sethe's house. This book has a deeper meaning to the story; the writer has successfully used the stylistic device of allusion. At first the reader may assume that ,Beloved was a spirit of Sethe's daughter who she killed , but it shows a girl locked up by a white man This is why the author of this novel allows Sethe to narrate the tales of her story and one time she says,"â€¦Those white things have taken all I had or dreamed,' she said, 'and broke my heartstrings too(Morrison ,Tonni,1987).There is no bad luck in the world but white folks."(Morrison, Toni 1987, chapter 9).
.The writer of this novel wants to give the reader a true picture of what it means by love of a mother to her child when she writes the story of Sethe killing her child to make sure they are safe and they would not experience the tragedy incidents of slavery. Although the community terms her as a murder and consequently rejects her, Sethe makes us believe that, she wanted her children to be free from slavery. Toni Morrison deserves all the reputation for going deep to show the intensity of the subject matter in this novel. This paper highlights the main ideas, the main characters, the stylistic devices and direct quotes from the novel and other sources to back up the presentation of the ideas.
Toni Morrison highlights the theme of slavery. Their owners particularly in Sweet Home treated slaves like animals. This is where Sethe ,Halle Baby Suggs and Paul D served as slave workers. When Sethe manages to escape from her master, she makes her way Baby Suggs house 124.This was the name of the house belonging to Sethe's mother in law, Baby Suggs.In America slave owners had the right to claim a slave worker who had escaped. This is because; they believed that once they had bought them, it was their property. When the slave master wants to capture Sethe and take her back to slavery.Sethe grabs all her children and is ready to kill them However, she only managers to kill the eldest daughter. She claims that she wanted to leave her children in safe place, just as a caring mother would mind the security of her children.Contrally to her perception; the community terms this as a heartless act and rejects her. Later the community realizes Sethe's idea was right and accepts her back the society. This evident when, Beloved tortures her mother for killing her, African American woman assemble to save Sethe In away these women were confessing for rejecting her. In fact, Ella says 'â€¦no, and the children cannot just up and kill the mama.'(Morrison, Toni, 1987, p.34.) The community came to realize that Sethe was not evil; instead, slavery was the traumatic thing that caused agony in the society. Even Paul D came to accept Sethe ,in fact he comes home with a song in his lips that goes, 'â€¦Love that woman till you go stone blind, stone blind ,stone blind, Sweet Home gal make you lose your mind.'(Morrison Toni, 1987, p.37)Toni Morrison deserves a pat on the shoulders for using such stylist devices at the same time introducing the theme of romance in the novel. When Paul D. sings such a lovely song, Sethe and her daughter Denver are, delighted .This brings joy in their house, something that they had missed for the larger part of their life. Paul D.says, 'â€¦Sethe, me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.' It is interesting to learn how the author of this novel uses humor in the book. She allows Sethe to give a reason of not running again since she had made enough laps and she felt that the race was over. This is what she says, 'â€¦"I got a tree on my back and a haint in my house, and nothing in between but the daughter I am holding in my arms. No more running--from nothing. I will never run from another thing on this earth. I took one journey and I paid for the ticket, but let me tell you something, Paul D Garner: it cost too much! Do you hear me? It cost too much."(Morrison, Toni, 1987).
Freedom is a main idea addressed in this novel. Every slave is longing for the day he/she will escape from slavery. The memories of the chain that united all the prisoners when they attempted to escape from slavery disturbed Paul D.Paul remembers the band that they found on their way to safety, he recalls some of his colleagues camping with them. Paul's journey in such for freedom was not a peaceful one since he feared that his master would track him and take him back to slavery. He left the camping site and travelled northwards, he arrived at Deaware where a woman accommodated him for eighteen solid months .The reader realizes seeking for freedom is not easy especially if one has to leave his family and close relatives. Paul moved on with his journey until he arrived to 124, Baby Suggs house where Sethe and her daughter Denver lived. Paul D tries to push those memories to the unconscious mind. He trembles with fear when he realizes that he got himself in to shit when he was trying to escape from slavery. He found himself locked up in GA prisons when he attempted to kill Brandywine, the man who sold him to Sweet Home, home of the slaves. Freedom is not anywhere near Paul's life even when he gets to Sethe's house. The ghost continues tormenting their house oftenly.Paul D tries a different move this time and carries Sethe and her daughter away from their house. To his surprise, Paul is shocked beyond words when they find young woman sited outside their house. This woman calls herself Beloved. She forces Paul D to have sex with her. Although he struggles to resist, he cannot help himself out. Having sex with Beloved seemed to be the only solution remaining for Paul to make him forget the past memories. However Paul in not yet free since this does not impress Sethe .In all these incidents, Toni Morrison wants to show the struggle for freedom.
When slavery separates us from our own heritage ,when memories of our past keep on coming to the conscious part of our minds, when freedom is not anywhere near us, then escape is the only light at the end of the tunnel. Slavery is associated with painful experiences and horrifying memories, victims of slavery try to repress these memories to the unconscious mind, which leads to loss of personal self-identity. Slavery in this novel has caused a mother to separate from her children .Sethe feels that she has failed to perform her duty of providing maternal care to children. Killing them seems to the best option in attempt to provide security to her children. To heal from these painful memories, Toni Morrison allows Sethe to reorganize the painful events, retell them, and keep their past at bay.