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I think this is an interesting idea. The sort of implication made with slavery in general is that human beings are made into beasts of burden, but I think the iron bit takes it to a new level. Slaves do what they can to preserve their humanity, creating songs to sing in the fields and a sense of communinity amongst themselves. The iron bit more than anything strips slaves of anything of their humanity they might have left, as they are unable to talk and lose their ability to communicate.

The idea of humiliation, over physical pain is very interesting, because In Chapter 7 of the novel, all Paul D can think about is how Mister...the Rooster, is superior to him. While wearing the bit one cannot speak, the wearer is completely dominated. It also does not help that the Rooster's name is Mister.

After I read your post I looked over chapter seven once again to try to understand the significance of the bit. I feel like in her interview, Morrison emphasizes the concept of the bit, but I really don't feel like it was a significant motif in the novel. I do, however, think that it was interesting that Morrison put more emphasis on the humility that the bit brought upon it's wearer, rather than the physical discomfort and pain.

I agree with Kristie that the iron bit didn't seem to be a significant motif. I think iron in general and its different uses was much more significant. I also found Morrison's emphasis on humility interesting, and I wonder whether it was because the emotional implications lasted longer than the physical pain.

I think that that is exactly why the bit's emotional effect is mentioned. While broken bones and torn skin will heal, as long as a memory remains it will be painful.

Indeed the iron bit information is rather hard to deal with but I have one criticism. It wasn't Paul D that couldn't save Sethe for fear of the bit. It was Halle. He was at the the top of the barn when the nephews stole Sethe's milk.

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