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Color In Beloved Essay

1079 words - 5 pages

In Beloved, Toni Morrison paints a picture of the cruelty of slavery. She emphasizes the African American’s desire for a new life as they try to move beyond their past to achieve their freedom. In Beloved, "Much of the characters’ pain occurs as they reconstruct themselves, and their families after the devastation of slavery" (Kubitschek 115). Through the novel, Morrison uses color to represent a life complete with joy, freedom, and protection, as well as things like community and family. In many sections, Morrison uses color to portray a character's desire for this life while, in other instances, Morrison utilizes color to illustrate the pleasure and realization which the characters ...view middle of the document...

Taking color to mean a life complete with joy, freedom, and protection, as well community and family, Denver says she would “forgo the most violent sunsets, stars as fat as dinner plates and all the blood of autumn and settle for the pales yellow if it comes from her Beloved” (Morrison 121). Here, color takes on a new meaning because Denver is so obsessed with Beloved that she would surrender the life that she has always longed for if it means being cared for by Beloved.
Denver, being a captive of her mother’s love, had a lot to relate to with slaves on a plantation. Both Denver and the slaves at Sweet Home were denied freedom, protection, joy, family and community. Though a few slaves, such as Sethe, could see color, they could not comprehend them and could not enjoy them. They had longed to know color but they were so dehumanized by slavery that they could not actualize their desire. Slaves had to exist “being astonished by the beauty of this land that was not theirs” (Morrison 268). “They cling to its banks to lap water and tried not to love it; for,\ their life was not their own” (Morrison 268). Therefore, when the slaves are able to see color, much like Denver when she becomes a part of the community, the symbol of color is very potent. It represents a character’s ability to possess an emotion. For example, when Sugars dies, she focuses on color because that is the only thing in her life which she truly possesses. The influences of slavery has wrecked her family and freedom. She focuses on color because it is her own understanding and the joy she feels from considering color is her own.
Sethe wishes for the joys that accompany a free life. When Sethe was a slave, Mrs. Garner gifted her a chunk of calico which was adorned with vibrant stripes and tiny flowers. Sethe defines it as having, “the prettiest colors. I don’t know what you call that color: a rose but with yellow in it” (Morrison 163). Here, Morrison calls attention to Sethe’s blindness to the pretty parts of life. During her slavery, Sethe desires to make a...

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