Beloved Issues of Sexuality
The story “Beloved” offers many interpretations for analysis however, Toni Morrison particularly makes note of how slavery plays a role in sexuality discrepancies with Sethe and her problem with femininity as well as Paul D’s issue with masculinity.
Both of the character’s situations differ from one another. For example, Slavery has emasculated Paul D, taking away his manhood and disabling him from making his own decisions. On the other hand, Sethe’s traumatic experience with School teacher has taken away her sense of femininity. This has led her to lose maternal awareness ideally causing her to adopt masculine survival instincts.
First, Paul D’s Issues can be analyzed through his life at sweet home. Although former owner Mr. Garner thought of his slaves as men, Paul D became emasculated after his knowledge of the title being a slave. From the start, Paul D thought of himself as a man only if his owner assigned him the title; he could not have the title as a man based on his own actions, especially in a society that views blacks as animals or children. As stated by Deborah Ayer (Sitter), “Morrison dramatizes Paul D’s enslavement to an ideal of manhood that distorts his images of self and others” (191). This means that Paul D is not only trapped by the white slave owners, but he is also trapped by is internal thoughts of his own manhood. Paul D chains himself to the idea of freedom and opportunity to become a man, that he allows the two to own him in a sense. Paul D is shown to possess certain criteria. In his mind, men do not show emotion, a man is the protector and a man has the last word. Although Paul D believes in these three topics, he does not own up to them. Paul D goes as far as showing characteristics typically displayed by a female.
As far as emotion goes, women are depicted as the emotional sex, while men are the rational tough guy. However, slavery is irrational to the feelings they create. For example, Paul D keeps his emotions sealed up in a symbolic tin. He swears that no one will be able to open it until later proven wrong. Paul D is not who he intends to be. He calls himself “the kind of man who could walk into a house and make the women cry” (Morrison 20). For Paul D to say this, he must have some sympathy and feelings of the feminine side.
As the protector, there is no problem providing evidence of this in Paul D. For example, upon entering 124, Paul D senses something wrong with it. He became frightened after entering with “a wave of grief soaking through him so thoroughly he wanted to cry… but he made it – dry-eyed and lucky” (Morrison 11). The house itself became a threat to his manhood. Almost making him cry, Paul D tries to rid the house of the threat in the most masculine way. For example, he beats the walls to rid the house of the spirit. Without consent from Sethe, he has not been in the house very long before he decides to use his authority to try and get rid of the ghost. While Sethe...