1994 AP Question: In some works of literature, a character that appears briefly, or does not appear at all, is a significant presence.
Choose a novel or play of literary merit and write an essay in which you show how such a character functions in the work. You may wish to discuss how the character affects action, theme, or the development of other characters. Avoid plot summary.
Minor characters generally are not usually given special importance, however, play a crucial role in Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. Contrasts between the main characters and the minor characters provide new perspectives. In memories of Paul D. and Sethe, the minor characters often play major roles, and have direct effects on the plot. The characters presence is used to portray how it would feel to live as a slave. Furthermore, Morrison dedicates the book to the characters affected by slavery, "Sixty Million," capitalizing as if a character.
Sethe was originally a slave at Sweet Home, run by Mr. Garner. Mr. Garner was a kind man, placing a great deal of trust on his slaves. But after his death, a man called Schoolteacher took over. The actions and events revolving the Schoolteacher is actually what caused such events in the book. His actions can represent what the African Americans had to deal with; the way how the blacks were objectified and compared to animals. No, no. That's not the way. I told you to put her human characteristics on the left; her animals ones on the right. And don't forget to line them up. I commenced to walk backward, didn't even look behind me to find out where I was headed. Sethe thought this to be one of the worst experiences, and was one the main reasons she did not want her children to experience. In the memories of Sethe, the Schoolteacher plays the role of a main character.
Furthermore, the beginning of chapter sixteen is told from the perspective of the schoolteacher. The minor characters do not have limited impact on the plot; rather many of the events are caused and revolve around them. For the Schoolteacher, this provides the feeling of domination over the other characters, even as a minor character. The most important past events of Sethe are the rape by the nephews of the Schoolteacher, the escape from Sweet Home, and the killing of her baby. The Schoolteacher's presence provides insight into the life of a slave. His nephews are the men who stole milk from...