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Beloved by Toni Morrison: the Color Red

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by

Linda Li

on 16 January 2014

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Transcript of Beloved by Toni Morrison: the Color Red

.....the color red
presented by
Iris Hunt & Linda Li
AP English 3 | period 2A
Part One
Just as characters suppress both good and bad memories in their pasts, the color red is both positive and negative in its usage.
thesis
In Morrison’s criticism of the brutality of slavery in
Beloved
, the color red, as a representation of the past, increases in negativity as characters experience pain from the surfacing of suppressed memories until they confront their pasts in order to move on to their futures.
Red in Society
red has two sides, positive and negative
part two
Unpleasant memories arise from the past into the present and lead to more negative occurrences of the color red.
Part three
The color red disappears altogether as characters overcome their traumatic pasts and reach closure with the aid of their community.
life
positive
negative
love
excitement
anger
violence
warning
in
Beloved?
“Every dawn she saw the dawn, but never acknowledged or remarked its color. There was something wrong with that. It was as though one day she saw red baby blood, another day the pink gravestone chips, and that was the last of it.” (47)
positive
&
negative
“The closer the roses got to death, the louder their scent, and everybody who attended the carnival associated it with the rotten roses.” (57)
“‘Yeah, he was hateful all right. Bloody too, and evil. Crooked feet flapping. Comb as big as my hand and some kind of red.’” (85)
“'It’s a tree, Lu. A chokecherry tree. See, here’s the trunk---it’s red and split wide open, full of sap, and this here’s the parting for the branches.'” (93)
negativity
“He hoped she stuck to blue, yellow, maybe green, and never fixed on red.” (213)
“Tying his flatbed up on the bank of the Licking River, securing it the best he could, he caught sight of something red on its bottom. Reaching for it, he thought it was a cardinal feather stuck to his boat. He tugged and what came loose in his hand was a red ribbon knotted around a curl of wet woolly hair, cling still to its bit of scalp.” (212-13)
negativity
“Swift unnavigable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood...But it wasn’t the jungle blacks brought with them to this place from the other (livable) place. It was the jungle whitefolks planted in them. And it grew. It spread. In, through and after life, it spread, until it invaded the whites who had made it.” (234)
focus on future
“It is stone quiet. In the place where once a shaft of sad red light had bathed him, locking him where he stood, is nothing. A bleak and minus nothing. More like absence, but an absence he had to get through with the same determination he had when he trusted Sethe and stepped through the pulsing light.” (318)
“Sethe,” he says, “me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.” (322)
“He would keep the rest where it belonged: in that tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be.” (86)
suppressed
memories
“‘Carmine. That means red but when you talk about velvet you got to say “carmine.”’” (41)
positive
&
negative
Full transcript