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Beloved by Toni Morrison

In introduction to the novel
by

philip shaw

on 16 September 2015

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Transcript of Beloved by Toni Morrison

Based on a true story
Margaret Garner
Setting
Reconstruction era 1873
Kentucky
Ohio
Sweet Home
124
Purpose
Recuperate history
Forced silences
Willed forgetfulness
Provide a voice
Denied the power of language
Didactic
Stable future
confront and understand
"Ghosts" of the past
Billie Holiday
Characters
Former slave
4 children
Buglar
Howard
A Little Girl
Denver
Kills her little girl
Paul D
Sethe
With Sethe at Sweet Home
Restless
Finds Sethe after 18 years
Deep emotional scars
Animal/man
Symbolic of consequence of slavery
Denver
18
Lonely
Born while Sethe escaping
Loves to hear story of birth
Drinks sister's blood with milk
Misses Baby Suggs
Slightly frightened of her mother
Isolated
Close relationship with Beloved
Beloved
Reincarnation of Sethe's murdered baby
Possessive
Sweet things
Play
Loves to hear Sethe's stories
Cannot mature
Stuck in age of when she died
Stamp Paid
Helps Sethe on final part of her escape
Feels guilty
Did not stop Sethe when she went to kill
the children
Baby Suggs
Sethe's mother-in-law
Slavery very hard
8 children, 7 taken away
Free: has faith that love can help people
Prayer meetings in the Clearing
Respected in the community
Gives up faith after Sethe commits murder
Gives up on life
gets into bed thinks about colours
Beloved
by
Toni
Morrison
Halle
Baby Suggs's son
Only one allowed to keep
Worked to buy mother out of slavery
Sethe's husband
Example of how slavery can destroy strongest family ties
Schoolteacher
Comes to Sweet Home after Mr Garner dies
Educated
Soft spoken
Treats slaves as specimens to be studied
Measures
Experiments
His nephews even more brutal
Investigate effects of cruelty
Amy
White girl who finds Sethe
On way to Boston to find velvet
Indentured servitude
Massages swollen limbs
Helps deliver Sethe's baby
Denver named after her
Themes
Paul D/Sethe begin
Very powerful for former slaves
Family Love
Sexuality and
Power
Community
Slavery interfered
with the ability to form families
Sethe married Halle
no real ceremony
Baby Suggs -
no right to have a family
Schoolteacher's nephews
take away Sethe's
ability to get to
nursing her daughter
They steal her milk - symbol of motherhood
Sethe is proud to be able to nurse her children at 124
Slavery intervenes
she kills her daughter to keep her safe
Other examples of separation:
Baby Sugg's husband escapes
Paul D's brother sold
Stamp Paid had to allow his master to use his wife sexually
For slaves, families mean danger
Dangerous to love too much
Hope in Denver at the end of the novel
Love
Power
relationship by having intercourse
Sethe/Halle's first time together in the corn field
Beloved is angered
by Paul D/Sethe's relationship
Sethe's mother raped by many
white men
Another woman describes
being used by a father and son
White men have absolute power over the women slaves
she uses her
sexuality to come between them
Victimized, only one another to rely on
For religious services in the Clearing, no one leads
Sethe keeps herself and Denver apart from the
community because of her crime
They are isolated and therefore vulnerable to Beloved
The community is guilty of shunning Sethe, they have turned their backs on this family. When Paul D leaves, he in turn is ignored. Yet in this community, people are supposed to stand by one another. Without this, there is no support.
Once beloved is driven away the community becomes part of Sethe's life again. Only together can they banish the guilt and crimes of the past.
Recurring Motifs
Trees
Colours
Crossing Water
Sethe's back
Paul D has a favourite tree at Sweet Home
called "Brother"
Symbolic of life however this is paradoxical in Beloved
Trees are beautiful at Sweet Home but life is terrible
Sethe's tree is dead scars
A reminder of the life the slaves don't have
Beloved appears on the stump of a tree
She is also the stump of a life
One clearly positive aspect
Paul D follows tree blossoms north
Powerful element
Conflict
For Baby Suggs colours are alive, they are not dangerous
For Stamp Paid, colours are indeed dangerous
Red Ribbon
Red: the colour of blood
white/black
River crossing: slavery to freedom
Ohio River
Biblical implications: Israelites-Promised land
Egypt-River Jordan
Beloved-from one existence to another
Bridge-travels from the world of the dead
to the world of the living
The Middle Passage
The reversal of a crossing to freedom
A significant journey where change must occur
Writing Style
Magical Realism
The blurring of what is real and supernatural
Radical Structure
Differing levels of the past
Flashbacks
stories
"Rememories"
fragmentory
The past is alive in the present
The reader has to piece together all the fragments
verse
stream of consciousness
differing points of view
All those denied the power of language
have a voice
Full transcript