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

Toni Morrison: Beloved Essay

1425 words - 6 pages

Toni Morrison was the first African American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. The novel, Beloved, considered by many to be her best, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Beloved, is a novel that reflects upon the History of African American slaves. This novel depicts images of the past, for former slaves in the novel; the past is a burden that they desperately try to forget. However for the protagonist Sethe, memories of slavery are inescapable. Beloved begins in 1873, Cincinnati, Ohio which embodies three generations of slavery, Baby Suggs; the grandmother, Sethe; the mother and Denver; the daughter.
In Beloved, Toni Morrison centralizes the main theme around the history of slavery in the United States. The overall theme of the novel is the reconstruction in the shadow of slavery; the need for ex-slaves to deal with their agonizing pasts in order to heal or reconstruct themselves. To develop this theme, Morrison tells the story of Sethe, a former slave woman who chooses to kill her baby girl rather than allowing her to be exposed to the physical, emotional, and spiritual cruel terrors of a life spent in slavery. "It is the ultimate gesture of a loving mother. It is the outrageous claim of a slave"(Morrison 1987). These are the words that Toni Morrison used to describe the actions of the central character within the novel, Beloved. Although Sethe does not spend much time in jail for her crime, she spends most of her life paying for the murder. She is not accepted by the community, haunted by the ghost of her dead daughter, and driven by the painful memories of what she has endured as a slave and inflicted on her children. Lacking motherly love herself, Sethe sets out to heal her wounds by being a perfect mother. Unfortunately, slavery defines Sethe and her children as property, which is a huge burden because as a result, Sethe cannot raise and nurture her own children for she is punished by doing back breaking labor on the plantation. When she and the children escape from Sweet Home, she still cannot nurture or love them properly, for she has no knowledge or experiences on how to raise a child. She thinks that in trying to kill them she is caring for them, for she believes that the afterlife has to be better than a return to slavery for them. The book of Relevation 21:4 states, He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Another theme that Morrison talks about is the theme of religion that appears frequently throughout this novel. Baby Suggs and the other ex-slaves had a thirst for religion. In order for the ex-slaves to let go of their past and their pain they looked to the hills. They looked to God for help. A bible reference includes Psalms 121, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Baby Suggs was a slave, she became free and for other ex-slaves she was the...

Find Another Essay On Toni Morrison: Beloved

"Beloved" by Toni Morrison, a fragment analysis

1170 words - 5 pages would come again into their yard.Sethe is and remains both a victim and a hero. A victim because she will never be free for real because of her past, and a hero because she was able to risk everything for her children’s freedom.In the novel, Toni Morrison stresses the fact that freedom of the individual is essential, because uniqueness is in everyone.She describes Sethe as a stanger among her friends; the day she is saved is the day people are

The Novel Beloved by Toni Morrison

1431 words - 6 pages scars of their past. Paul D begins his attempt to get her to understand that she is not subhuman, not just a mother, but a human being when he tells her that "You your best thing, Sethe. You are." (322). There is hope for Sethe as she doesn't completely deny what Paul D says, she simply asks, "Me? Me?" (322). With his support, Sethe will be able to overcome her fear of being an animal while helping Paul D overcome his fears too. Works Cited Morrison, Toni. Beloved. 4th ed. New York: Vintage International, 2004. Print.

The Character of Beloved from Beloved by Toni Morrison

2210 words - 9 pages The Character of Beloved from Beloved by Toni Morrison The character of Beloved, from Toni Morrison?s novel, Beloved, is an embodiment of the evils of slavery. Beloved, the daughter of a former slave, is a child who died before her time, therefore her existential search for identity parallels the search of self that slavery created in an innumerable amount of human beings. When reading the novel, Beloved, it is vital for the

"Beloved" by Toni Morrison. Relationship between Sethe and Beloved

1422 words - 6 pages In Toni Morrison Beloved, the main character Sethe must confront the past and Beloved in order to heal the wounds it has caused. The main character Sethe is disturbed by the traumas of racism and slavery, which caused her to kill her first infant name Beloved. Throughout the novel, Sethe works hard to avoid the past, which has caused her nothing but pain and horror while she was at the Sweet Home. The relationship between Sethe and Beloved takes

Use of Violence in Beloved by Toni Morrison

836 words - 3 pages As much as society does not want to admit, violence serves as a form of entertainment. In media today, violence typically has no meaning. Literature, movies, and music, saturated with violence, enter the homes of millions everyday. On the other hand, in Beloved, a novel by Toni Morrison, violence contributes greatly to the overall work. The story takes place during the age of the enslavement of African-Americans for rural labor in plantations

A Mother’s Timeless Dilemma in "Beloved" by Toni Morrison

1731 words - 7 pages and accept that sometimes it is necessary for a mother and child to be separated and that a mother should not try to compensate for this separation and risk losing herself in the search for her children’s happiness. The relationship between mother and child is unbreakable, no matter how much time has passed, but it must be treated with caution as it has the power to ostracize the two from the rest of the world and allow them to destroy each other. Works Cited “Quotations by Author: Agatha Christie (1890-1976).” Quotationspage.com. The Quotations Page, n.d. Web. 26 Dec. 2009. Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Vintage Books, 2004. Print.

Analysis of Sethe in the Novel Beloved by Toni Morrison

1020 words - 4 pages “Mothers are all slightly insane.” This quote by acclaimed American writer J.D. Salinger accurately describes the nature of all mothers. The innate nature of mothers to be insane, or to think without logic or reason is vividly displayed in Toni Morrison’s Beloved through the protagonist Sethe. Sethe, an Ohio infanticide, displays loving traits throughout Beloved, and often leads the reader to question her motivations behind the killing of her

The Water Motif in Beloved by Toni Morrison

1437 words - 6 pages In her novel Beloved, Toni Morrison writes about the life of former slaves of Sweet Home. Sethe, one of the main characters, was once a slave to a man and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Garner. After Garner’s sudden death, schoolteacher comes to Sweet Home and takes control of the slaves. His treatment of all the slaves forced them to run away. Fearing that her children would be sold, Sethe sent her two boys and her baby girl ahead to her

Issues of Sexuality in Beloved by Toni Morrison

1502 words - 6 pages 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

"Beloved" by Toni Morrison-Importance of Minor Characters

858 words - 3 pages , however, play a crucial role in Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. Contrasts between the main characters and the minor characters provide new perspectives. In memories of Paul D. and Sethe, the minor characters often play major roles, and have direct effects on the plot. The character’s presence is used to portray how it would feel to live as a slave. Furthermore, Morrison dedicates the book to the characters affected by slavery, "Sixty Million

The Sacrifice a Mother Would Make for Her Child in Beloved by Toni Morrison

2095 words - 8 pages Toni Morrison novel, Beloved originated from a nineteenth-century newspaper article that she read while doing research in 1974. The article was about a runaway slave named Margaret Garner, who had run away with her four small children sometime in 1856 from a plantation in Kentucky. She traveled the Underground Railroad, to Ohio, where she lived with her mother-in-law. When her Kentucky owner arrived in Ohio to take Margaret and the four children

Similar Essays

Beloved By Toni Morrison Essay

424 words - 2 pages Beloved by Toni Morrison, is a piercing novel of powerful images, of captivating tenderness and constant self-abasement. The conflict is centered around the revages caused by slavery in America, which prompts the protagonist, sethe, to flee the ironically named Kentucky plantation, Sweet Home, in search of a life of diginty and freedom in the free state of Ohio. This contemporary novel succeeds in proving the immense prower of the spirit, the

Toni Morrison And Beloved Essay

2825 words - 11 pages Toni Morrison was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Beloved, a novel whose popularity and worth earned her the Nobel Prize in literature the first ever awarded to a black female author.  Born in the small town of Larain, Ohio, in 1931, to George and Ramah Willis Wofford, Morrison's birth name is Chloe Anthony Wofford (Gates and Appiah  ix).  Morrison describes the actions of her central character in Beloved, as:  the ultimate

Beloved, By Toni Morrison Essay

764 words - 3 pages BelovedIn the Novel Beloved, by Toni Morrison unmasks the horrors of slavery, and depicts its aftermath on African Americans. The story is perfect for all who did not experience nor could imagine how it was to be an African American in America circa the 1860's. Beloved lends a gateway to understanding the trials and tribulations of the modern African American. The Novel has many things that occur that are very striking, most of which have to

Rusted Shut In Toni Morrison´S Beloved

795 words - 4 pages Toni Morrison is the author of Beloved, a novel about the past literally coming back to haunt the present. The past appeared in the physical and the mental realms as Beloved and memories of past life. Toni Morrison uses the symbol of “the tin tobacco box” heart to show how people repress memories. Paul D admits that he has a rusted over tin box in his chest, but he is not the only person who hides feelings. The community as a whole has buried