Throughout Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, there are many obvious themes and symbols. The story deals with slavery and the effects that the horrifying treatment of the slaves has on a community. Another major theme, apparent throughout the story, is the supernatural. The notion of haunting is very evident since the characters are not only haunted by Beloved at 124, but are also haunted by their past. The story of Beloved is not only about freeing oneself of a ghost, but also about releasing one’s hold on what happened in the past.
Sethe is the most severely haunted throughout the book, both by her past and by Beloved. Her past haunts her with what happened to her and what she did. She was beaten so badly that her back has a permanent blossoming scar, one that she calls "A chokecherry tree. Trunk, branches, and even leaves. Tiny little chokecherry leaves. But that was eighteen years ago. Could have cherries too now for all I know" (pg 16). The great significance of the scar on her back is that it is just one more thing she cannot see, but knows it is always there, similar to her past.
Also, the line "Could have cherries too now for all I know" shows that she understands how she is not only stuck with her past, but that it is growing and affecting her in many different ways. The story revolves around the haunting of 124. Beloved's presence is apparent to Sethe, Baby Suggs and Denver, and they live with it for some time. It is not until the day that Paul D steps into the house that things change. He wastes little time in antagonizing the spirit to leave. God damn it! Hush up! ... Leave the place alone! Get the Hell out! " (18). The spirit leaves, much to Paul D's delight. This may have occurred because Paul D is not only a figure from Sethe's past, but is also the first man to enter 124. Beloved is able to play off of Sethe's own haunting, that of her past, to get what she wants. Sethe's judgment was blurred as she focused primarily on the daughter she had murdered years ago. Beloved made ridiculous demands. Anything she wanted she got, and when Sethe ran out of things to give her, Beloved invented desire" (pg 240). Sethe wound up quitting her job, completely neglecting Denver, and completely neglecting herself as she dwindled away. Beloved, and her past, drained Sethe with their constant nagging. There is also significance to the word choices of the characters when talking of the past. It is clear they will never forget their past and what had happened to them. So rather than forget, they "disremember. " They push it to he back of their mind where they won't think about it, but it is always there, waiting for them to "rememory" it. This shows how they will always be haunted by their past. Through the addition of a supernatural dimension in Beloved, Morrison pushes the limits of usual interpretation. The characters settle into believing the supernatural is normal. To them ghosts and premonitions is a way to understand the world around them and through this, Morrison is able to draw a comparison to one’s past and a troublesome ghost. ?
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Toni Morrison, original name Chloe Anthony Wofford, (born February 18, 1931, Lorain, Ohio, U.S.—died August 5, 2019, Bronx, New York), American writer noted for her examination of Black experience (particularly Black female experience) within the Black community. She received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. What did Toni Morrison write?
Beloved, novel by Toni Morrison, published in 1987 and winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The work examines the destructive legacy of slavery as it chronicles the life of a Black woman named Sethe, from her pre- Civil War days as a slave in Kentucky to her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1873. Although Sethe lives there as a free woman
Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, on February 18, 1931. She was the second of four children born to Ramah and George Wofford. Her mother's parents, Ardelia and John Solomon Willis, had left Greenville, Alabama, around 1910 after they lost their farm because of debts that they could not repay.
Toni Morrison was born on February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio, USA as Chloe Ardelia Wofford. She was married to Harold Morrison. She died on August 5, 2019 in Bronx, New York City, New York, USA.
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