After finishing the novel, I felt confused about the character Beloved. I was left with many questions and hopefully you guys can help me answer them. First of all, what sort of message is Morrison trying to send by having the town and characters forget that Beloved was ever there? I think that the way she had everyone forget was very well done, but I just don't know why she did it.
Also why does she end the novel with "It was not a story to pass on." I've thought about it a lot but I can't figure it out. What are your thoughts?
The more I think of Seethe's killing of Beloved, the more I think that it has more levels of meaning. One of the most prevalent questions that it brings out is whether Seethe crossed the line of motherly love. The book paints the brutality of slavery in a unique way. One of the things that I was worried about when hearing that the book had its roots in slavery was the typical history book slavery portrayal. Although dehumanizing, I think that Seethe crossed the line by killing her daughter.
I also think that it is significant that the first child that Seethe attempted to kill was a woman. Not only a woman, but at parts of the book Morrison blurs the line between Beloved and Seethe's identity. Morrison shows this when she writes: "I AM BELOVED and she [Seethe] is mine... her face is my own"(248).
Could it be that the book is not only questioning the limits of motherly love, but how much of a person's own identity he or she will destroy? I think that the end of the novel Beloved is continuing to finish of Seethe by continuing to suck the life out of her.
So, now that I have finished Beloved, I have been left with a few profound impressions. But out of all of the messages that I got out of this book, the thing that probably has stuck with me the most is this book's emphasis on the past. The characters in Beloved are so trapped by their pasts that they can't live normal lives or look towards the future.
As Paul D. says to Sethe at the end of the book, "Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow."
This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes (it's Faulkner) "The past is never dead. It's not even past."
I guess that I wonder, is this true for all of us? I mean, I know that some people are more prone to dwell on the past than others, but do you think that we can ever truly move away from our past? Obviously, it depends on your past. Traumatic events are clearly much harder to move past than just a typical everday event.
I guess I am just wondering if the past will ever be past. For any of us. I would love to hear some other opinions on this.
From the interview with Morrison that we saw in class it seems pretty clear that "Beloved" is not really about slavery, even though slavery plays a part in the novel. Morrison said that she didn't want to write about slavery because she didn't want to be cliche, but then she found the story about the woman who tried to kill her kids and it fit perfectly with the kind of themes she was trying to explore, so she decided to approach slavery from a different angle. "Beloved" is more about one's relation to oneself and to one's family, communtiy, etc. It explores how people recover from trauma, such as seeing friends die, having families separated, and losing family members. It also explores the process of living with guilt, such as murder of a child, or shame and how one learns to forgive oneself and that acceptance of guilt and the recognition of the possibility of forgiveness are essential to moving on.
I'm fairly sure that the ending in Beloved was not something that everyone was expecting. Beloved sucking the life out of Sethe and Denver going out into the world to help save her mother. Everything ending in the climatic moment where all the woman show up at Sethe's doorstep and Beloved somehow escapes. There part that I'm interested in though has to do after this is all said and done, when Paul D comes to Sethe's house and they seem to live happily ever after. Yet the question begins to formulate if Beloved was ever there as they begin to forget more and more about her ever being present. I'm curious on why the author would do this. Somehow i think that it almost gives the story a little less punch in the end since we begin to have no clue on whether it was all on their head or if it ever actually happened. It could be due to Beloved ghostly make up. Could there be a bit of a deeper meaning though? Beloved towards the end of the novel begins to represent a little more than just Sethe's dead baby daughter, this is most likely apparent when the entire village of woman come to get rid her. Anyway, could it be that slavery is something that also simply begins to be forgotten over a while?
I was reading the passage with the town confronting Beloved on the porch and the passages prior to this showing Denver reaching out to the community for help. It describes how Denver went to many houses asking for a job or contributions to help her starving mother because Beloved was eating Sethe's portions as well. When word of this situatio spread through the town, many people gathered to rid Denver and Sethe of the spirit of Beloved. As they approached the porch, Sethe comes out, curious. She then sees Mr. Boldwin who looks like Schoolteacher. I think that Beloved tried to possess Sethe and make her kill the imposter. But when Sethe is restrained by the town, Beloved's spirit disappeared. I'm not sure whether it was the act of humanity of the town unselfishly helping them, or the fact that she had lost control over Sethe, but she vanished. I was wondering what people thought of her disappearance? Do you think she is really gone forever, only to be a lost spirit? Is she really dead or did Morrison leave it open-ended for a sequel...? :-) Any thoughts?
Beloved seemed almost like a horror story to me. It had all the elements of many horror novels and films: ghosts, mystery, suspense, murder, and rape. My mom told me the first time she read Beloved was when she was pregnant. Can't beat that.
Beloved is both a complex and a disturbing character. She almost really does have the mind of a two-year-old, and behaves as such. Which is why the whole thing with her and Paul D. confused me. Was that a predetermined plan to separate him and Sethe? It is as if Beloved is trying to remove any obstacles that are in the way of her and Sethe. Beloved is very stalker-like towards Sethe. Maybe this is because Beloved has the mind of a baby who depends completely upon its mother.
I thought the most disturbing thing was how Beloved was draining Sethe's life force at the end. As much as she "completely" loved Sethe, she was also killing her. This was also driving Sethe to madness, and as Beloved's influence worsened, Sethe seemed to be more and more engulfed by her past, while at the beginning she was able to resist it. This could be because Beloved represents not only Sethe's murder of her daughter, but also Sethe's horrible past as a whole.
Ever Since Light in August the tone of everything in class has gone numb from the intensity of the books and the disturbing things that occur. Reading these types of books makes me wonder if any great author wrote a happy story. I don't know maybe in the high class literature writing something light hearted is considered com ping out. Anyhow I'm simultaneously exhausted and horrified from some of things that I've had to decode from both Beloved and Light and August.
Both books have the same type of feeling to them, personally I never feel really comfortable reading them because I know somethings going to jump out at me that will give me a mental picture I can't erase and rather not have. They are both simply disturbing and I understand that LIA and Beloved are trying to portray profound messages, but it's disturbing non-the-less. Never before have I read a book that started out with a mother killing her child and just the casual and unfeeling mention of it made me flinch.
There is so much darkness in bedded in these great works of literature with momentary peeks of light which give me momentary hope that something happy would happen. In short, I'm so glad it's Spring! Because without the few days of light Beloved would have me heading towards depression. Is anybody else saddened by this book?
I found Ella's perspective on ghosts very interesting and it caused me to think a little about my own beliefs. On page 302 Morrison says, "The future was sunset; the past something to leave behind. And if it didn't stay behind, well, you might have to stomp it out.. As long as the ghost showed out from its ghostly place- shaking stuff, crying, smashing and such- Ella respected it. But if it took flesh and came in her world, well, the shoe was on the other foot. She didn't mind a little communication between the two worlds, but this was an invasion."
At first I would say that there should be absolutely no communication from the past, not even "shaking or crying" because that would scare me way too much. However, I think that it is important for someone to deal with their past, rather than to bury it inside. What do you think Morrison is trying to tell her audience by creating a ghost in the flesh? Why does she include Ella's perspective on supernatural living? I still do not buy the whole ghost thing, but I think Morrision could be making a point about dealing with your past using the character Beloved.
In Chapter 3, Sethe is talking about Sweet Home with Denver and warns her, "If you go there- you who was never there- if you go there and stand in the place where it was, it will happen again, it will be there, waiting for you... Even though it's all over- over and done with- it's going to always be there waiting for you."
Beloved takes this notion to the extreme. Dead babies haunt mothers so badly that they become embodied. In the book, the past is not in the past, it is a physical place or thing that sticks around.
How real do our pasts become when provoked? I think probably most everyone would agree that if you go to a certain place, it triggers a memory, just like listening to a certain song or smelling something out of context- it brings you back. Everyone has had those experiences.
It's interesting, though, how Denver never had to experience Sweet Home, and yet Sethe fears that she will relive it anyway if she goes there. That is a more debatable idea. I think it makes sense, as long as you have some idea of what happened in that place. But if it's not your memory, how intense can the rememory be? What do you think?
Since the schedule explicitly said to blog about "Beloved" and since I wish to get the points I think I deserve for the following post, I will now include a small musing on "Beloved:"
After watching the film version, I believe Toni Morrison was largely inspired by Steven Spielberg's "E.T." It's all there, the conspicuously absent father figure, the bizarre creature led by sweets, the overt use of colors and plant related imagery. The only thing missing was the chapter where Beloved got drunk and Denver freed all the frogs from school. Mind blowing, no?
And now for the main event.
Since before our return I have noticed a steady drop off in class participation and enthusiasm. The last few discussion days have gone as such in 4th period:
Bernie: Let's talk about this stuff I want to talk about.
Bernie: Okay, here's this passage...
Bernie: Okay, here's one of your guy's questions. [Bernie reads the question out loud, probably makes a somewhat demeaning comment]
Student [probably Sam or Simon, perhaps Brittany, Lena or myself]: Unique idea or analysis.
Bernie: Huh, well, here's this passage, go here, read.
I could go on, but digging my own grave makes my fingers dirty. I know I personally have felt a growing fatigue with constant analysis. For me, this doesn't happen often, but I'm beginning to think I know why this fatigue has set in. Bernie is trying to direct us too much. Since "Light In August," Bernie has become more particular about what we talk about and when. I think his distinct fondness for Faulkner and Morrison makes him want to point us to things he found in his readings that he finds especially cool, rather than let us find things in the text that grab us. I, for example, love to delve and speculate about the dark place Beloved came from, and some of the more fantastic aspects, but Bernie seems to like to steer clear of it, and my interest wanes.
Now Bernie, I know you love what you do and what we're reading right now, but this is our journey. We'll get there eventually, but we have to be allowed to choose our path.
Just a thought.
P.S. Seriously, think about that "E.T." connection, it's astounding.
This lovely, wonderful Spring evening, I decided I wanted to
spice up ‘Da Blog,’ (despise that colloquial spelling) with an epic,
semi-serious, (well, not even semi), look at motifs, selfishness, and themes.
Please feel free to dispute me and please feel free to enjoy. Upfront apology
So, I’ve had many thoughts about themes and motifs, just as we all have had.
(Oof, bad start. Let’s try again.)
Year after year, book after academic book, we’ve been told that when the style is nonlinear, it means [insert meaning]. When something is mentioned seemingly offhand, it is a motif.
We add modern interpretations to works that never heard the word ‘feminism,’ or ‘equal rights,’ or even ‘free love.’ What I mean to say is that modern ideas that were never even considered in, say, Shakespeare’s time, are tacked on to his work and thought of not only as brilliant, but also as correct. I agree that older works are incredibly telling of the times in which they were written and can give the interpreter a look at what was thought in those days. (Bad sentence. Second try: ) if you look hard enough for something, you can “interpret” (re: twist) the text to apply to any thesis.
Beloved, by the very talented Toni Morrison is full of details. As always, we know that iron isn’t really just supposed to remind you of the cold and think of Sethe in that matter. Color isn’t just an adjective. Water is mentioned no more than necessary for thematic elements.
What needs to be acknowledged is the selfishness that is interpretation. It is to claim not only to know the text on a deeper, more significant, hidden layer, but to know the mind of the author themselves better.
Believe me, now that the final flimsy card has dropped, allowing the flimsy card house of illusion to fold itself in ruin. We can see the emperor’s flaccid nudity and he has no clothes.
Themes are not about what the author wanted you to take from the book. All the author wanted was to tell a story. Read the words, ‘hear’ the story and be done with it.
That is what the author meant. Freud himself, jack of all invisible trades and master of none, acknowledged that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. It is not a statement about the relationship between father and son and the disillusioned end of childhood.
What “thematizing,” (and I use that word under the duress that none other is suitable), truly represents is a basic selfish need to know more than someone else.
If it were not so, then why can grades be applied to an analysis of a personal nature? We are not graded on our ability to see what Pollack was thinking when he splattered that red paint over that black paint, so why are we graded for guessing, (yes, guessing), why the author choose to have the handsome hero flee to Hungary?
All right, Pollack is a poor choice, as he is not a strictly traditional artist. To rephrase and reask, we are not given an individual picture of ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’ by Seurat and told to form a thesis, in a meaningful AP-worthy manner, on why the monkey was included and what it represents; (I would say an opulent, affluent upper-class that represents a laissez-faire attitude and indifference/repulsion to the lower classes.)
So why do we do it? Other than the grades, which are probably my next paragraph, we want to feel like we understood the book better than the countless other generations who breezed through in their own sweet time. Also, science has ruined the analysis aspect of the cosmos etc., so we must turn our awesome powers of keen observation from the flat, center of the universe Earth to the words written by those bitten by the Bug of Writability. (Forgive that one. I like to think I’m funny.)
As touchéd on previously, we are graded on our ability to pull all the words, mannerism and adjectives out and cut, paste, arrange, rearrange, and rewrite to spare ouir poor, ravaged GPA’s the indignity of a dropped decimal.
However, we are not graded upon our ability to tell our own story, whether fictional or otherwise. Ultimately, which would you choose to read? A short piece of fiction or an interpretation of equal length of that same short story?
Now, I will choose to assume that you chose what I chose. If we’d all rather read something that doesn’t have great use of rhetoric terms, unbelievable topic sentences and an original, well-crafted thesis, but is instead an actual example of how a great a writer can be, why are we still writing the same old formulated, quotation-filled grubble-rubble?
I am simply sick of writing about other people’s words.
(P.S. I still wrote about Beloved, so this totally counts for my blogging.)
(P.P.S. If it doesn’t I might just cut of my own foot.)
A main theme in the novel Beloved is the issue of race and the effects of slavery. It seems in the beginning and throughout the novel that Sethe would like to keep her memories of Sweet Home and slavery repressed. When Paul D. arrives everything seems to change it is as if they begin reminiscing about the old days often. Even Beloved is able to get Sethe to tell some of her stories from the Sweet Home. Denver asks her mother and Paul D. "How come everybody from Sweet Home can't stop talking about it? Seems to me if it was so sweet, you wouldn't have run away." What is the significance of "Sweet Home's" name? Why do you think that Paul D. and Sethe are reminiscing so much about such a terrible place?
Today in class, we discussed the two chapters where Beloved narrates the beginning. The chapters are similar at the beginning. They both begin with the phrase "I am Beloved and she is mine." We where wondering why Morrison decides to begin these chapters like this. One idea was that the first time was referring to the time when Beloved died when she was a child. The second narration came after Beloved had returned from the dead. I was also wondering what the "hot thing" was on page 248. Some guessed that it was blood, but I'm not too sure. I also want to know who the men without skin are (248).
I find the entire passage on pages 248-249 confusing. Does anyone have any ideas? What is Morrison trying to do with these passages?
Now that we all have finished the book (hopefully) it has been a comfort for me to know that people are having the same difficulties understanding this book. The discussions we are having in class are not always the most interesting but it has been helpful in picking apart the book. For example, the part in the book where Morrison is writing about the slave ship is something that I had not picked up on until a class discussion. It made me wonder "What is I could have had a discussion with a group of people about every book I've read? How much more would I get out of every book?" Everyone has different thoughts and ideas and to be able to hear what everyone else has to say is a great way to process what a writer has to say in a book. I know what I'm saying is all very obvious but I'm just grateful that we can all help each other in figuring out the bigger meaning of all the books we have read and worked on this year.
I had a question I was wondering if anyone could clear up for me.
On page 61 there is a very vivid description of Sethe peeing.
"Not since she was a baby girl, being cared for by the eight-year-old who pointed out her mother to her, had she had an emergency that unmanageable. She never made the outhouse. Right in front of its door she had to lift her skirts, and the water she voided was endless. Like a horse, she thought, but as it went on and on she thought, No, More like flooding the boat when Denver was born."
Is this a description of (figurtively) Sethe giving birth to Beloved again. Because Toni Morrison makes this description right after Beloved is first introduced. Or does this represent something completely different?
So someone has probably already posted on this, but here I go anyways.
Did Sethe do the right thing by killing Beloved? And how is Sixo different?
Personally, I believe that Sethe had a valid reason to kill Beloved. I think that after being a slave for so long, and all the things that follow along with being a slave, Sethe was right in killing Beloved. I do not know if I would ever have the courage to do the same, but I feel that I know how hard it was for Sethe, but she believed she would be with her daughter soon. I think that if Sethe had had the time to kill all her children and herself she would have, so that they could all be together in the after life. And this I believe is the main point to focus on. Although it did not end the way that Sethe had hoped, I do believe Sethe would have been happier dead along side her daughter. Throughout the book, Sethe never seemed quite herself, she always seemed dejected or not whole without Beloved by her side.
On the other hand, Sixo, near the end of his life, felt a completely different way. Although I only realized today when Heidkamp brought it up, Seven-O was his child to be. And although the 30 mile woman and the child probably had a very slim chance, he was still proud to know that his legacy would live on. I'm not really sure why Sethe and Sixo were different. I'm not even really sure if they were, but if anyone can come to my aid and tell me their differences or similarities that would be great.
The very moment I was told that were going to read a book called "Beloved" was when I was first hit with how beautiful that word is. I think that Toni Morrison is one of the most mystically articulate writers I have ever read and am blown away with every word, and every page...It feels as though I'm reading another Arundhati Roy novel to be honest.
But I think that there is great significance in the word 'Beloved', and not just because it was chosen as the title to this story.
I think that when Morrison says "this is not a story to pass on." and the repetitive use of the word 'beloved' is one of the major ways she articulates the meaning of the novel to her readers. I think that her whole point is that the past will only haunt you and devour you if you give it the power to, if you name it, if you say it, if you 'behold' it. Which is how I think Morrison intends to symbolize a horrible traumatic past, is with the use of a murdered and beloved baby.
It's also as if Sethe sees herself as a murdered baby as well. She cannot seem to let go of these awful past memories because she too was once a pure innocent child. She is so overcome and haunted with the knowledge of her experiences that she can't seem to make her own new life as a freed woman, or even be happy again. She just can't seem to shake whats been branded into her, and her mother before her, but Morrison wants to show us that you can, that it's possible, and that it's the only way that you'll ever be able to really keep living.
Morrison sends this message to all people who wallow in things they can't change, things that they'll never be able to erase, and things that seem as though they'll never stop hurting. But she emphasizes that the hurting people cannot overcome it alone, that the wounded need to embrace, support and lean on one another in order to let all their horrors finally rest.
As I finish my second reading of Beloved, I begin to wonder if Morisson's use of ambiguity in the novel is really necessary. We have heard arguments in class about the "brilliance of the novel". Discussion of the book really has only served to further muddle things for me. When we have a class discussion, many of our questions are dismissed with further acknowledgement of Morrison's brilliance. Perhaps we should be left to our own devices in order to judge Beloved as a literary work.
Is Morrison brilliant because she incorporates interwoven themes and motifs? Or is it because she conveys the hardships of slavery effectively? The complexity of Beloved does not establish its brilliance. It is multifaceted, surely, but I feel something is lost in trying to weave so many unlike experiances together. Beloved tries valiantly to be a tragedy, a slave story, a love story, and in some ways a story of the coming of age. If Toni Morisson is to be looked upon as a genuis, then what does that make the reader?
Morrison gives us the innermost thoughts of Beloved, Sethe, and Baby Suggs, and expects a story to emerge. While she may be experimenting with literature by deconstructing story elements, she is also forcing the reader into a very strange and uncomfortable position. She says in the introduction to Beloved:
"I wanted the reader to be kidnapped, thrown ruthlessley into an alien enviornment as the first step in a shared experiance with the books population..." (Beloved, xviii)
Surely Morrison wants to convey experiance in a way that literature normally does not. In this way, she writes similar to Faulkner. Faulkner was ambiguous in his writing because he was on the vangard of modernism, and was in a transition period. Morisson creates ambiguity by choice, and I think she does so mainly to emulate Faulkner's writing style.
I cannot be too critical of Morrison for her writing. Surely she is taking a new approach to literature.I feel that I am an understanding person, and I find it unfair that Morrison expects us to understand slavery through a very manipulative text. Surely she does not think that slavery can be understood in any other way than directly experiancing it. But I feel she should have given the reader more leaniancy. After all, abusing the reader doesn't solve anything.
After finishing Beloved this week I was left with mixed feelings. On the one hand I enjoyed the last 20-30 pages of the book immensely and thought the ending brought everything together nicely. However at the same time there were some things in the novel that bothered me stylistically.
Did anyone get the feeling that at times Morrison is too technical in her writing? It seemed to me that she used various tools to incite specific reader responses, almost like sappy music in a movie designed to bring about tears. Morrison reminds me of Faulkner, and as we have discussed in class it is reasonable to assume nothing is on accident. However unlike Faulkner, Morrison is almost beating you over the head with her symbolism and morals at times. In my opinion lacking the subtlety of Faulkner makes her writing seem more like a soap opera and less like a masterpiece.
However when dealing with the topic of racism and slavery maybe bluntness is preferably over any other delivery method, I can only say that in my personal opinion it made the story slightly less effective.
P.S. Though maybe it is a comment on her prowess as a writer that I still found myself liking the book as a whole.
I was flipping through the pages of Beloved looking for something to blog about and I found this passage that I thought really stuck out among the rest of the pages. The passage is on the last couple pages of chapter 22, 251-252. This chapter is the one where Beloved is narrating. Throughout the passage it seemed as the the whole thing was a continuous thought, because of the lack of periods and sentences breaks. It's interesting how Morrison uses different structure, language and formation for this section to reveal the differernce in Beloved's mindset then those of the other characters. I also thought it interesting tohear what is going on in Beloved's mind and know what and how she thinks.
A question though that I couldn't quite get: What exactly is she referring to when she says "hot thing" at the end of the passage?
So, as discovered by our group, the motif of water seems to come up often in Beloved, mostly in the first half of the novel. Morrison most often uses water in conjunction with themes of birth and the flowering of life. This is especially obvious in the birth of Denver and the "birth" of Beloved (pages 61-62 for Beloved and 98-99 for Denver). Water is also often used in a overpowering sense, such as a flood, such as when Sethe feels like her water has broken when Beloved is reborn. This suggest that Morrison may be commenting on the overpowering nature of life and birth, but as for a full theme, I'm not too sure.
Were we told at our introduction to Beloved that it is an extremely complex work that has different symbols representing multiple meanings, presents difficult topics for many to comprehend, etc. While this seemed obvious while I was reading, I am really beginning to realize the complexity of the work while we do our motif projects. My group chose to follow the motif of trees, as there seemed to be multiple references early and often. Now, upon completion, I am having a hard time trying to decipher what all these trees actually represent. In class today, my group discussed the possibility that the trees served as a sort of "blessing and curse", very similar to Sweet Home. For example, trees serve as a hideout for Denver as a child, and as a safe haven for Sixo while he rests during his work day. However, Sethe's mother is hung from a tree, Sixo is tied to a tree while he is shot, and the scars on Sethe's back are in the design of a tree. To tie the trees into Sweet Home, SH seems to be a "better" place to be enslaved in than most other plantations or homes, as no one is beaten and are given more "freedom" than most slaves. However, the fact that Sethe and the Pauls and Sixo are enslaved there obviously is a negative. So, does it seem possible that the trees throughout Beloved are a representation of the "blessing and curse" of Sweet Home?
So, my question begins at the end. I'm a little confused about the ending. Not about facts, but about meaning. So, in the end, the townspeople (women) come together and march up to 124. One way or another, Beloved disappears. My first question is WHY? What happens that makes her existence no longer possible.
I also am curious about the line that is repeated: "This is not a story to pass on."
Why not? It seems like Morrison told us the story because it was a story that needs to be told. Why doesn't she want us to pass it on? Or this this the voice of Sethe? Denver? Paul D? Beloved? Ella? The townspeople?
Many people who told me about Beloved prior to my reading it said that it was simply a defense of moral relativism. For me, it's hard to know where moral relativism starts and ends in Beloved. Certainly we find ourselves needing to look at the experiences in the book from different perspectives, yet it is difficult to say whether or not Morrison thinks it's fair to view Sethe as morally and psychologically sick when she tries to kill her daughters.
At the very least, I think it's safe to say that whatever sickness exists is understandable as the result of slavery, although one might wonder what other factors outside of that were in play--I feel that there might be few people, even among those who went though slavery, who would be less inclined to act as she did.
Some might feel as if they can't judge Sethe's actions out of an appeal to moral relativism, yet I don't think such a position is particularly compelling. Overlooking something about her past would only be a reason our moral assessment was incomplete, not a reason it was wrong per se. Such attitudes, in my opinion, give people a blank slate to do whatever they want; granted, it's not that which way I judge them makes THEM feel any differently, yet I also think that there is a way to objectively deduce immorality for her actions.
On the other hand, Sethe's act may be seen as an act of love, but such a position is not moral relativism because it treats love as a value which is able to be universalized, even in this example. Nevertheless, I think we can say that her act is morally corrupt if love is the value she acts under, because love as she understands it leads to doing things harmful and on behalf of the object of her love.
It's hard to know where to start this conversation given the different layers of the issue, but I do think it is one that has to be discussed and most importantly DETERMINED by those who think about her dilemmas.
What I find most intriguing about Beloved is its combination of fantasy and historical accuracy. Morrison does a fantastic job of portraying the South during this period, as well as communicating the horrors of slavery. Morrison does not shy away from the frequent occurence of slave owners raping their slaves or other grotesque subjects, and uses imagery so artistically that the images are almost burned into the reader's mind.
Ghosts, of course, make up the fantasy part of this book. The supernatural acts that occur are not imagined by the characters, or some kind of cheap ploy. The ghost of the "crawling already" baby (Beloved?) is very real and malevolent. When Beloved comes to the house, it becomes quickly apparant that she is not a normal person. She has almost no memories, is not at all articulate, and acts less than half her age. Beloved is able to easily manipulate both Sethe and Paul D. in order to get what she wants from them, and moves them like "rag dolls".
I know probably a billion people have already written about this but still I can not help but wonder what everybody's take is on this extreme reality represented in Beloved.
The pending question is why? Why did Sethe kill her little baby girl? Well in class we discussed that this action was an extreme version of mother's love to protect her children. Personally I can understand how that could have effected her but for obvious reasons I can not seem to rap my mind around a mother killing her baby for the better.
Also mentioned in class, me and just about everyone else reading this book can not relate to the pain which slavery inflicted on African Americans mentally and physically. Therefore maybe I just don't have a clear understanding of that mental process. This overprotection of the mother in Beloved is shown as a loving act but quite a negative thing. Because of it Sethe killed her child and spoiled her other daughter Denver.
Even though I can not relate to the context of which this book is written I feel that if I was a mother and was given the choice I would give my child a chance to live, even though it would be a hard life. In Sethe's context I can see her reasoning but personally I could never kill my own child.
What do you think? I hope a brought something new to the table.
So, I might be taking Rivkah's lead this week with a controversial post... we'll see. There has been something that has really been bugging me about our class discussions and activities this week, and it has to do with the topic of slavery.
Now, first of all, I want to say that I love this book. I think it is beautifully written and that it has really complex and moving characters. My issues are not really with the book, but with some of what has been said in class.
Basically, this has to do with slavery. Here's the thing: Slavery was absolutely horrible. I can't even begin to imagine the lives of so many of the people who suffered from that terrible institution. It makes me sick to think about it.
But I get it. I'm not saying I understand what it means to be a slave or to have ancestors who were slaves, but I feel like I have been educated enough about it, and now I don't know what to do. In our society today, I think that we focus too much on wrongs that have been done in the past without really thinking enough about how we can get past them.
Sometimes I feel like blacks cling to slavery and their victimization, and they surely have a right to feel wronged. But when does it end? When can we move on? When can I stop just feeling guilty and feel like I can help or do something productive?
At what point can we move on from all the stories of slavery that we've heard and experience some sort of closure? I'm not at all saying that we should rewrite or forget the past. I think that slavery and that time period is something that everyone should be educated about and hear stories from, but I also don't really know what good we are doing by dwelling on it so much.
That was quite the questionarre we took in class the other day. It looked so innocent, and then by the time I got to the third or fourth question it was loading on the moral dilemmas and totally stressing me out! Haha but seriously I loved how intense it was and how it made you think.
I'm really interested to hear other people's opinions on the following:
-Ghosts may actually exist.
-A mother's love can possibly lead to a decision to destroy a child.
-Isolation necessarily warps the human soul.