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. Sethe, the proud and noble protagonist, has suffered a great deal at the hand of schoolteacher. The unfortunate and seemingly inevitable events that occur in her life, fraught with violence and heartache, tug at the reader’s heart-strings. The wrongdoings Sethe endures are significant to the meaning of the novel.
“I am full…of two boys with mossy teeth, one sucking on my breast the other holding me down, their book-reading teacher watching and writing it up” (Morrison 70). This chilling quote refers to the scene in which Sethe is essentially robbed of everything she owns. Ironically, the boys with the mossy teeth had the civility to dig a hole for Sethe’s stomach “as not to hurt the baby” (202). However, such a violent act could not occur without a reaction. This scene sets the rest of the story in motion.
In an interview, Morrison is asked about her feelings on O.J. Simpson. This brings up the issue of “black irrationality”. She chuckles and responds “The story of the case is a marketable story. And that story is made up of black irrationality, and black cunning, and black stupidity, and the black predator” (Haines). She then continues with this memorable quote, “We've always been considered to be irrational, emotional, lunatic people.” In Beloved, Sethe portrays the epitome of “black irrationality”. Due to the traumatic violence that occurred at Sweet Home, Sethe reacts impulsively to seeing schoolteacher headed towards the house. One may argue that she does not display much emotion while killing her children, she unquestionably resembles a lunatic. Without this vital scene, Beloved would lack the utterly shocking element that such violence provides. People want to immerse themselves into stories about lunatics, emerge in the drama, and sympathize with the dire pain Sethe feels. Violent scenes, among other elements, allow for this to occur in a novel.
Destruction of identity, another theme of the novel, relates to the violent scenes. In the second part of Beloved, Sethe takes a stand and expresses her feeling on the violent acts being performed on her. “Nobody will ever get my milk no...

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