This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Essay On Toni Morrison's Beloved Sethe's Act Of Filicide

1682 words - 7 pages

Sethe's Act of Filicide in Beloved

 
     Shortly after the publication of Beloved, Toni Morrison commented in an interview that Sethe's murder of Beloved "was the right thing to do, but she had no right to do it.... It was the only thing to do, but it was the wrong thing to do."1[1]  Does this remark prove the moral ambiguity of the infanticide, as Terry Otten argues?2[2]  Yes, it was right but wrong, and wrong but right.  However, the most important thing is that "It was the only thing to do."  Sethe had no choice.  If there is anything wrong, it must be either, in Paul D's words, her "too thick" love, or the inhumane institution of slavery.  However, as Sethe answers back to Paul D, for her, "Thin love ain't love at all" (164).  For Sethe, there is no such thing as "thin" love, and it is true.  Her love is not "too" thick but "so" thick that she would kill her own child rather than see the baby live as a slave. 

 

            Another interview in 1994 makes it even clearer that Toni Morrison has been sympathetic to Sethe from the start.  She talks about Margaret Garner, whose story gave Morrison the inspiration to write this novel.  Sethe's story is almost identical with Margaret Garner's.

 

 

I had an idea that I didn't know was a book idea.... One was a newspaper clipping about a woman named Margaret Garner in 1851....  she had escaped from Kentucky with her four children.  She had run off into a little woodshed right outside her house to kill them because she had been caught as a fugitive.  And she had made up her mind that they would not suffer the way that she had and it was better to die.  She succeeded in killing one; she tried to kill two others....  That the woman who killed her children loved her children so much; they were the best part of her and she would not see them sullied.  She would not see them hurt.  She would rather kill them, have them die.3[3]

 

 

From this interview, three points can be made about what Morrison had in mind when she wrote Sethe's story, the "unspeakable thoughts, unspoken": (1) it is the suffering that the mother wants to protect her children from; (2) the mother loves her children "so" much; (3) the "would rather" does not mean that it is her "choice" to kill the children.  As a loving mother, she cannot see her children sullied and hurt as she has suffered under slavery.  I shall speak for Sethe in terms of the suffering and her "thick" love.

 

            Sethe's "rememory" of suffering goes back to her relationship with her nameless mother, the broken bondage.4[4]  Sethe, taken away from her own mother, was nurtured by Nan, who gave Sethe her leftover milk after feeding white children.  Sethe's mother herself killed all her children except Sethe.   Sethe heard from Nan about how special Sethe is to her mother.

 

 

She [Sethe's mother] threw them all away but you.  The one from the crew she threw away on the island.  The others from more...

Find Another Essay On Essay on Toni Morrison's Beloved - Sethe's Act of Filicide

Toni Morrison's "Beloved" Essay

1421 words - 6 pages In Toni Morrison's Beloved, the characters struggle with accepting the horror of their pasts in the world of slavery and moving on with their lives. Despite their theoretical emancipation, Paul D and Sethe are still enslaved, not only by continuing societal prejudices, but also their own need for self-preservation. A major part of that self-preservation is maintaining their hard-sought emancipation, not just from slavery, but from any type of

Mtif Of Trees In Toni Morrison's Beloved

2027 words - 8 pages Nature often times represent a unique calmness. Toni Morrison doesn't make any exceptions to this idea. In her novel Beloved, Toni Morrison uses trees to symbolize comfort, protection and peace. Morrison uses trees throughout Beloved to emphasize the serenity that the natural world offers. Many black characters, and some white and Native American characters, refer to trees as offering calm, healing and escape, thus conveying Morrison's message

The Style of Toni Morrison's Beloved

1113 words - 4 pages Style Analysis of Beloved   In the 500 word passage reprinted below, from the fictional novel Beloved, Toni Morrison explains the pent-up anger and aggression of a man who is forced to keep a steady stance when in the presence of his white masters.  She uses simple language to convey her message, yet it is forcefully projected.  The tone is plaintively matter-of-fact; there is no dodging the issue or obscure allusions

Rememory in Toni Morrison's Beloved

1307 words - 5 pages Rememory in Toni Morrison's Beloved To survive, one must depend on the acceptance and integration of what is past and what is present. In her novel Beloved, Toni Morrison carefully constructs events that parallel the way the human mind functions; this serves as a means by which the reader can understand the activity of memory. "Rememory" enables Sethe, the novel's protagonist, to reconstruct her past realities. The vividness that

Memory in Toni Morrison's Beloved

815 words - 3 pages Memory in Toni Morrison's Beloved     Memories are works of fiction, selective representations of experiences actual or imagined. They provide a framework for creating meaning in one's own life as well as in the lives of others. In Toni Morrison's novel Beloved, memory is a dangerous and debilitating faculty of human consciousness. Sethe endures the tyranny of the self imposed prison of memory. She expresses an insatiable obsession with

Toni Morrison's Beloved: Not a Story to be Passed On

5599 words - 22 pages was a pretty place too.  Fire and brimstone all right, but hidden in lacy groves.             (Morrison, 6).      A close reading of Toni Morrison's Beloved,  attests that it is only through Beloved's re-appearance into Sethe's life that allows each main character, Sethe, Denver, and Paul D to relinquish their pasts and reunite with their presents and futures.  The act of 'naming' that past warrants each character to exorcise their own

AP English essay about Paul D in Toni Morrison's Beloved

1287 words - 5 pages Jeremy Adler Jeremy Adler December 1, 2010 Mr. Sanford AP English Often in literature, an author will use a character's presence in order to display the central themes of the novel, while also having the character play a significant role in the novel's plot. In Toni Morrison's Beloved, the character of Paul D does have a strong significance in the development of the novel's plot, but he is also an essential

The Importance of the Past in Toni Morrison's Beloved

2282 words - 9 pages chose to do with this memory of the past will shape our future. This lesson is one of the most important themes in Toni Morison's novel, Beloved. History was not only a significant theme in the novel, but the book was also very historical itself. I had learned and educated myself very thoroughly on the issue of slavery before I read this novel. Reading this novel I felt as if I were experiencing slavery first hand. Morrison creates her

The Importance of Color in Toni Morrison's Beloved

1923 words - 8 pages that is one thing in her life which she owns.  The effects of slavery have destroyed her family, community and even freedom.  Therefore, she focuses on color because it is her own experience and the happiness she feels from pondering color is her own. Works Cited Kubitschek, M.D. Toni Morrison: A Critical Companion. London: Greenwood Press, 1998. Marcus, Brad.  "Diamond Back."  Panel discusses Toni Morrison's Beloved.  04 Dec. 1998.  Diamond Back Newspaper .  18. Oct. 2001.  Morrison, Toni.  Beloved. New York: Plume Printing, 1987. Robinson, Mary and Fulkerson, Kris.  Cliffs Notes Morrison's Beloved.  Fster City: IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., .  

The Contrasting Nature Of Love Explored In Toni Morrison's Beloved

1381 words - 6 pages In her novel Beloved, Toni Morrison explores the paradoxical nature of love both as a dangerous presence that promises suffering and a life-giving force that gives the strength to proceed; through the experiences of the run-away slave Sethe. The dangerous aspect of love is revealed through the comments of Paul D and Ella regarding the motherly love of Sethe towards her children. Sethe's deep attachment to her children is deemed dangerous due to

slaverybel Impact of Slavery in Toni Morrison's Beloved

1678 words - 7 pages Impact of Slavery on the Individual Exposed in Beloved         In her novel, Beloved, Toni Morrison conveys her strong feelings about slavery. One of the major themes throughout the book is the impact that slavery has on the individual.  Morrison utilizes the characters Mr. Garner and Schoolteacher to illustrate how slavery affects everyone in a different way.   Though Morrison portrays Mr. Garner as the more humane master

Similar Essays

Essay On Toni Morrison's Beloved Misuse Of Language

791 words - 3 pages The Misuse of Language in Beloved   In Toni Morrison's Beloved many negative methods of communication used by the white people are effectively hijacked by the black people.  The black people create a completely new message and a positive form of communication. These forms of communication, in turn, empower the oppressed black people, providing channels for the expression of ideas, thoughts, and memories.   Such was the

Essay On Toni Morrison's Beloved Symbol And Symbolism In Beloved

1567 words - 6 pages skate, which was very unstable.  In order to stay upright she was forced to seek help from the community, reach out to the people outside of 124.  Through this act she was able to bring healing to the family.  By reaching out to the community, she was able to combat the horrors of loneliness and racism.   Works Cited: Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York, Penguin Books USA Inc, 1988.

Analysis Of Toni Morrison's Beloved

4378 words - 18 pages Analysis of Toni Morrison's Beloved Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning book Beloved, is a historical novel that serves as a memorial for those who died during the perils of slavery. The novel serves as a voice that speaks for the silenced reality of slavery for both men and women. Morrison in this novel gives a voice to those who were denied one, in particular African American women. It is a novel that rediscovers the African American

Essay On Toni Morrison's Beloved Freedom And Independence

1516 words - 6 pages 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