Freedom and Independence in Beloved
Toni Morrison’s important novel Beloved is a forceful picture of the black American experience. By exploring the impact slavery had on the community, Beloved evolves around issues of race, gender, and the supernatural. By revealing the story of slavery and its components, Morrison declares the importance of independence as best depicted by Sixo. The combination of an individual amongst a community sets forth the central theme of moving from slavery to freedom and reconnecting with family and community.
Sixo is one of the nine slaves living on Sweet Home, a Kentucky plantation. A young man in his twenties, Morrison introduces him as “the wild man” (11) without explanation. Later, Paul D describes Sixo as “Indigo with a flame-red tongue” (21). He is closer to the African experience then the other slaves. Morrison portrays Sixo as the odd man out in an attempt at underlining the idea of an individual in a community. Community at Sweet Home is the only reassuring object possessed by the slaves. The relationship among fellow slaves creates a “mock” community, which is enough to satisfy everyone. Morrison utilizes Sixo as rebellious and clever, one who refuses to conform to his predicament. Physically a slave, Sixo rejects his position and remains a spirited man who takes night walks and dances among the trees to keep his bloodlines open. Although black sexuality is dominated by slavery, he chooses his own woman and controls his own destiny. Sixo “plotted down to the minute a thirty-mile trip to see a woman.” (21) Despite the bounds of slavery, Sixo asserts his independence and searched for a better life and family of his own. In an attempt to free himself from the restraints of slavery, Sixo sets forth to find his own self, family and community.
Throughout the novel, Morrison reinstates community at Sweet Home. The communal was the only memory of Sweet Home openly discussed by the characters of the story. It was their only asset. To Sixo, his community was handed to him along with the chains tearing the flesh of his ankles. Sixo seeks for individualism, a life in which he can create his own circumstances and outcomes. Morrison uses Sixo as an escape from the constant depression and oppression located amongst the text of Beloved. The Thirty-Mile Woman is a symbol of Sixo’s independence. He is a black man who is not afraid to fight back. As such, he poses a serious threat to the institution of slavery. For years, slavery was based on the constant oppression of blacks; Sixo exerts himself as an individual among an oppressed community and threatens the foundation in which slavery has thrived upon. Despite the fact that slavery denies the slave the right of personal relationships, he “walked for seventeen hours, sat down for one, turned around and walked for seventeen more,” (21) to forge a relationship with a woman and perpetuate his liberty. Sixo embodies Beloved’s search for...