Cruelty In Toni Morrison's Beloved

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In Beloved by Toni Morrison, cruelty factors into the theme, dehumanization in Blacks because Whites employ cruelty to coerce Black slaves to view themselves as animals who serve superior human. Thus, Black slaves gradually start to independently view themselves with the same rights as animals. Cruelty is a noun that consists of the act of inflicting physical or mental pain to others. Accordingly, in Cincinnati, Ohio and Kentucky in the 1850s, cruelty is the factor that forces Sethe, a Black, female slave to turn homicidal and ignore human ethics like gentleness and peace because she does not want to be dehumanized by schoolteacher again. In other words, the cruel savagery in Whites is the source of the savagery in Sethe when Sethe is desperate for freedom. Cruelty also disillusions Sethe into viewing Whites like Mr.Bodwin and schoolteacher as nemeses.
Cruelty reveals that the victim, Sethe becomes barbarized in an attempt to protect her children and avoid the treatment of a slave-animal. Arriving at the house of 124,
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When Mr. Bodwin graciously comes to 124 to retrieve Denver for a job, Sethe presumptuously assumes that “he[Mr. Bodwin] is coming into her yard and he is coming for the best thing….She flies. The ice pick is not in her hand”(Morrison 262) because Sethe thought schoolteacher is coming to steal her milk and capture her children. Despite Mr. Bodwin’s magnanimity towards Denver and her family, Sethe still mistakes Mr. Bodwin as an enemy. As divulged, Sethe is continuously traumatized because schoolteacher allowed his nephews to pilfer Sethe’s milk and group Sethe’s “animal characteristics” which caused Sethe to have difficulty with differentiating between reality and hallucination. Moreover, schoolteacher’s acts of corporal cruelty are the source of Sethe’s savage and brutish attempt at murdering her
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