Toni Morrison's novel, Beloved, reveals the heartbreak love and its power to throw an individual into an internal battle against himself. In the beginning of the novel, Sethe, the main character, is seen as a woman who as a woman that has submitted to an isolated life and who cares not to interact with others around her. Yet, this has not always been the case. Sethe was once a woman so full of love. She had admired her husband, Halle, her four young children, Denver, Howard, Buglar, and Beloved, and she the days of the Clearing. And thus, when Sethe had finally reached 124, she fell faint. She had loved too much.
“Your love is too thick,” he said, thinking…. “Too thick?” she said, thinking of the Clearing where Baby Suggs’ commands knocked the pods off horse chestnuts. “Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”
After failing to “protect” her children form the schoolteacher, Sethe experienced much guilt and regret for a very long time. Her guilt stemmed from mercifully killing her “crawling already?” baby girl, and regret from not having done the same for her other three children. Sethe’s actions derived from the fact that she did not want her four children to have the same life and experiences that she had. In her mind, death was better than a life as a slave. Later in the novel, it become evident that Sethe’s tragic past, her scars on her back that resemble a chokecherry tree, was the reason for her wishing to live a life in isolation.
Beloved, who shares that fatal moment with Sethe reacts in a completely different way. Her obsessive and vengeful love haunts Sethe’s house, scaring off her two biological brothers, and fights the force of death by attempting to take her mother’s life. Not only does Beloved herself haunt Sethe, but as does her headstone. During many times within the novel, Sethe feels guilty for not having named her child before her death. Sethe’s love for Beloved is thought to be so strong because of her regrets.
Throughout the novel, Morrison utilizes symbolism to expose internal conflicts that burden the characters. A unique contrast of characters reveals tragedy in the human condition and mimics the event of slavery. Together, Beloved and Sethe share the suffering and emotional effects from that one fateful, fatal event. While the mother refuses to passionately love again, the young, betrayed daughter fights heaven and hell, in the name of love, just to live the life her siblings endured. Sethe was a woman who knew how to love so well, that she ultimately fell to ruin because of it. Her love was too rich, too thick. She had the power to love unconditionally without question for her children. Sethe had “milk enough for all.”
Morrison frequently uses breast milk to symbolize the strength of Sethe’s maternal desires. She was haunted by the terror of the schoolteacher attempting to rob her of her nutritional and nurturing juices. Sethe had crawled on bleeding extremities to moisten her baby’s mouth with her milk,...