Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” essay

Beloved is one of the most popular books written by Toni Morrison. It is one of a few books which regard the problem of slavery in its particular way that I would define as the revealing of the personal, private life of slaves from inside. However, one of the central themes of this book is certainly the theme of healing. Actually, we may trace this theme in any part of the book, in any expression, in any episode.

The author uses many stylistic devices and artistic details that help the reader feel the healing. On reading Beloved, we realize that the central problem aroused in the whole book is the problem of healing of slaves from their past and even from their present that may be the result of their past life. The author reinforces the feeling of the dramatic role of the past by frequent flashbacks that returns main characters in the past make them think over it, evaluate it and in such a way, through the realization of their past life characters heal themselves. One of the main characters of the novel, Sethe is a woman with an extremely dramatic past. She suffers a lot because of it, for in the past she committed a great crime, she killed her daughter. But what seems terrible for us is excusable for Sethe because her acts are caused by the fear that her children will live in slavery as she did that is why the killing of her daughter seems good for her, she strongly believe that in such a way she cares about her child which would have a better afterlife.

However, she was severely punished for her crime and the imprisonment is not the worst punishment for her, the remorse is probably the greatest punishment for her. It also may be a healing because when she momentarily forgets about her grief the relief comes and there is the hope that sooner or later she will recover from it. Anyway, as the author says to Sethe the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay. The better life’ she believed she and Denver were living was not simply that other one (Morrison 1998:42). But characters of Beloved, particularly Sethe, need help and they find it. For instance, we see that lacking mother love herself, Sethe sets out to heal her wounds by being a perfect mother (Plasa 1999:87). Thus, it means that Denver is more than the daughter for Sethe, she is her remedy. The same may be said about Paul D who also helps significantly to this poor woman.

Finally, I would like to say that we have to understand that Morrison in the book Beloved does not simply narrate about the healing of former slaves, in my opinion, symbolically the author suggests the way for healing the whole nation. Sethe is a symbol of the US, as she tries to bury the problems of the past by living in the present and returning to the past rarer and rarer and in such a way healing her wounds, so the American society tries to forget a terrible past, the slavery with its injustice and cruelty, racial and social inequality, etc. But the author gives us the hope that the understanding of the fact that the acts of Sethe were the result of her desperate position caused by existing system and not an act of an insane person. The author also makes us hope that any past trauma may be healed, sooner or later.

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