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A Discussion Into The Nature And Function Of The Character 'beloved' In Toni Morrison's Book Of The Same Name.

1396 words - 6 pages

Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize winning book is a masterfully written tale. Beloved begins in the late 1800's in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sethe, a former slave, lives with her eighteen-year-old daughter Denver. Sethe's mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, lived with them until her death eight years earlier. Just before Baby Suggs's death, Sethe's two sons, Howard and Buglar, ran away. Sethe believes they fled because of the malevolent presence of an abusive ghost that haunts their house at 124 Bluestone Road and had done for years. Her brother's sudden departure leaves Denver in isolation, in time she forms an attachment to the ghost everyone believes to be the spirit of her dead sister. Sethe is avoided in the community for the circumstances surrounding her baby daughter's death. Dubbed 'crawlin' already' Sethe killed her first daughter to prevent her recapture from white slave hunters. This act has left Sethe and her daughter segregated.The arrival of Paul D - an old friend of Sethe's from 'Sweet Home' a Kentucky farm where Sethe her husband Halle, Baby Suggs and Paul D were owned - at 124 commences a series of events that lead to Beloved's arrival. Prior to moving in, Paul D chases the house's resident ghost away, which makes the already lonely Denver resent him from the start. Sethe and Paul D start to look forward to a promising future together, until one day, on their way home from a carnival, they encounter a strange young woman sleeping near the steps of 124. This is Beloved; Denver recognizes her immediately as the spirit in her house she used to know and develops an obsessive attachment to Beloved. Beloved also forms and attachment to Sethe, which is equally if not more intense. Paul D and Beloved are suspicious of each other from the beginning; this results in his eventual evacuation from the house by Beloved.Each character hides and runs from the brutality of their lives in slavery, yet cannot escape it's heritage. The course of the characters emotions and memories are re-routed through the introduction of Beloved.Beloved's elusive, complex identity is central to the understanding of the novel. She may, as Sethe originally believes, be an ordinary woman who was locked up by a white man and never let out of doors. This could explain her neediness, baby-soft skin, and emotional instability. But these traits could also support the most widely accepted theory that is held by most readers, as well as the characters of the novel.It is strongly suggested in the novel that Beloved is the embodied spirit of Sethe's dead daughter. She is the age the baby would have been had it lived, and it may be more than coincidence that she bares the same name as the pink tombstone Sethe's baby is buried under. When she first appears to Sethe soaking wet, as though newly born, Sethe has the sensation of her water breaking. Additionally, Beloved knows about a pair of earrings Sethe possessed long ago, she hums a song Sethe made up for her children, she has a long scar under...

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