Motherhood Under Slavery In Tony Morrison’s Beloved

3253 words - 13 pages

Tony Morrison’s novel Beloved, explores how slavery effects of the lives of former slaves. Morrison focuses more specifically on how the women in these situations are affected. One of the main areas affected in the lives of these women is motherhood. By describing the experiences of the mothers in her story (primarily Baby Suggs and Sethe) Morrison shows how slavery warped and shaped motherhood, and the relationships between mothers and children of the enslaved. In Beloved the slavery culture separates mothers and children both physically and emotionally.
Sethe has a strong maternal instinct and sees her children as a part of herself. They rightfully belong to her. However her maternal ownership of her children is not recognized by the culture of slavery. As a slave she cannot own anything (Mock 118). Therefore while they are enslaved neither Baby Suggs nor Sethe really own their children. In the slavery culture both the mothers and the children are considered as property of their white owners. As property, their rights as mothers are made void and they have no say about the lives of their children. To the owners a slave woman’s primary value is in her reproductive ability. The female slave is seen as giving birth to property, and therefore capital in the form of new slaves. (Liscio 34). The owner has the ability to use and dispose of this new property as they wish. Therefore children could be sold without any regards for their feelings of the feelings of their mother. In the novel Baby Suggs states she has given birth to eight children, however she only gets to keep one that she sees grow into adulthood. By the end of her life slavery has stolen all of her children from her:
You lucky. You got three left. Three pulling your skirts and just one raising hell from the other side. Be thankful, why don’t you? I had eight. Everyone of them gone away from me. Four taken, four chased, and all, I expect, worrying somebody’s house into evil . . . My firstborn all I can remember is how she loved the burned bottom of bread. Can you beat that? Eight children and that’s all I remember (Morrison 6).
It is evident from this quote that Baby Suggs believes that all eight of her children are dead and that she believes they likely died as they lived in unhappy circumstances, and are now likely spirits who haunt the places they died. However, Baby Suggs does not know for sure what happened to each of her children. She tells Sethe to be thankful because at least Sethe knows where all of her children are (at this point in the novel), even if one of them is dead. Unlike Baby Suggs, Sethe at least still has memories of her sons long after they leave. For Baby Suggs most of the memories of her children are as dead and gone as she believes they are. As time goes on Baby Suggs repeated physical separations from her children eventually lead to her emotional separation from them as well:
What could it be? This dark and coming thing. What was left to hurt her...

Find Another Essay On Motherhood Under Slavery in Tony Morrison’s Beloved

Slavery’s impact on Motherhood in the novel ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison?

934 words - 4 pages to a life of slavery would be taking away everything that she gave “life” to and to destroy all that’s good in her world. . Toni Morrison shows in clear depth the struggles slave women had in loving their children and how the right to be mother was stolen from them. She uses Sethe as a symbol to show how strong Motherhood truly is. Despite, slavery preventing Mothers the right to care for and nurture their children. Morrison portrays motherhood as a powerful source to be reckoned with. Works Cited Beloved by Toni Morrison

Slavery, memory and women in Toni Morrison's beloved

849 words - 4 pages universal literary tree more specifically in American literature. Beloved has become a must on the American reading list despite of its complexity because of its effective subject and her artistic depiction. In 1873 slavery has been abolished in Cincinnati, Ohio for ten years, this is the setting in which Morrison places the characters for her influential moving novel .Morrison present Sethe (a black American African slave) the protagonist of the novel

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

The Influence of Slave Life on Motherhood and Family Interaction Explored in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and Beloved

3376 words - 14 pages In her 1987 novel Beloved, Toni Morrison explores the complexity of slave life and its influence on motherhood and family interaction. Morrison utilizes the some aspects of Frederick Douglass’s 1845 Autobiography to create her account of slavery but that is where the similarity ends. Beloved is a neo slave narrative and like other neo slave narratives it attempt to “rip the veil drawn over proceedings too terrible to relate” (Morrison, XV- XIX

The American history of slavery has been conveniently shrouded by a comfortable state of "national amnesia". By what means and how far successful is Morrison in addressing this issue in Beloved

641 words - 3 pages slavery rather than repressing it.Also, by looking back at the past the process is cathartic and can provide healing to American society. Paul D, like the American society, was comfortable with his state of emotions- his red heart being shut in a tobacco tin. However, it is only through the sexual intercourse with Beloved that he was able to feel again and hence, "red heart, red heart" Tobacco tin is made up of metal that is cold and hard but through

Final Project

2012 words - 9 pages .” Womanhood and motherhood are both a significant role in the lives of Harriet Jacobs and Morrison’s main character. Each is faced with moral decisions that are decided under the circumstances of slavery. From here, the women must deal with the psychological consequences based on the decisions that were made. Harriet Jacobs’ “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” and Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” expose the ways that slavery corrupted everyone by

The Goddess in Toni Morrison's Beloved

1706 words - 7 pages treatment of the myth today is perhaps much more important than what has been done with it in the past. Morrison’s women in Beloved do happen to conform to the maiden, mother, and crone mold in the superficial sense, but the mental attitude counts for as much or more than the physical appearance does. One trinity that exists in Beloved does follow the template, with Denver as the maiden, whose role is to learn; Sethe, the mother; who should

Toni Morrison

1927 words - 8 pages to teach people about all aspects of African-American life present and past. In Beloved like all of her novels, Toni Morrison used vivid language, imagery, and realism to reveal the interior life of slavery and its vestiges which remained in African- American life. Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18,1931 in Lorain, Ohio to George and Ramah Willis Wofford. She was the second of four children. Her parents influenced her

Beloved literary - College of New Rochelle, Modes of Analysis - Research paper

1997 words - 8 pages , motherhood was destroyed, but a mother’s love? Never. Works Cited “Quotations by Author: Agatha Christie (1890-1976).” The Quotations Page, n.d. Web. 26 Dec. 2009. Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Vintage Books, 2004. Print. Barzey, Michele A. L. “Thick Love: Motherhood in Toni Morrison’s Beloved Koolish, Lynda. “’To be Loved and Cry Shame’: A Psychological Reading of Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Religion in "Beloved"

790 words - 3 pages Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved, explores the physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering that was brought on by slavery. Several critical works recognize that Morrison incorporates aspects of traditional African religions and to Christianity to depict the anguish slavery placed not only on her characters, but other enslaved African Americans. This review of literature will explore three different scholarly articles that exemplifies how Morrison

The Association of Maternal Bonds and Identity in "Beloved"

1706 words - 7 pages Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved, is a “haunting stray of a mother’s love that frames a series of irrelated love stories by multiple narrators” (Bell 61). The main character Sethe is a mother who fails to realize her children’s needs. She attempts to protect her children from the community amongst many other dangers such as slavery and love, however ultimately isolating them. Sethe’s character as well as actions confirms the “struggle and

Similar Essays

Slaverybel Morrison’s Beloved As Chronicle Of Slavery?

1089 words - 4 pages Morrison’s Beloved as Chronicle of Slavery?   Stories written in our present time about slavery in the eighteen-hundreds are often accepted as good accounts of history. However, Toni Morrison’s Beloved cannot be used to provide a good chronicle in the history of slavery. While writing about black female slaves and how they were the most oppressed of the most oppressed, Toni Morrison, herself as a female black writer, has a very

Family Life, Mother Daughter Relationship, And Psychological Impact From Slavery In Toni Morrison’s, Beloved

844 words - 4 pages Thesis: In Beloved, Toni Morrison talks about family life, mother-daughter relationships, and the psychological impact from slavery. The psychological impact on the slaves in this book was awful, mainly because of the abuse, discrimination, humiliation, sexual assault, rape, and embarrassment that they were served by their owners. The abuse, assault, humiliation, and rape were the worst, forty-six people of the chain gang were offered to eat

African Influenced Christianity In Toni Morrison’s Beloved

719 words - 3 pages . The slaves often identified with the Israelites enslaved in Egypt, and such parallels between biblical stories and their own experiences hastened the adoption of a modified Christianity by the slaves. Events in Toni Morrison’s Beloved reflect the experiences of the Israelites and other biblical figures in ways modified by native African religions. The slaves identification with the Israelites is used by Toni Morrison, who gives Paul D an equally

Family Life, Mother Daughter Relationship, And Psychological Impact In Toni Morrison’s, Beloved

2048 words - 8 pages In Beloved, Toni Morrison talks about family life, mother-daughter relationships, and the psychological impact from slavery. This particular book was based on a small slave family in Cincinnati, Ohio after the American Civil War (Deck). Seven people lived in the small house at 124 Bluestone Road (Morrison 2). The 3 in the address is missing because the third child out of the four children is dead. The seven people that live in the house were