Examples Of Broken Motherhood In Beloved

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Vera Friedman
Toni Morrison
Spring 2018 / Ms. Augustine
Paper #1: Beloved
03/19/18

Beloved: Distorted Love and Broken Motherhood The novel, Beloved, demonstrates Toni Morrison 's ability to penetrate the unconstrained, unapologetic psyches of various characters who bear the awful weight of slavery 's concealed sins. Slavery repudiated black mothers the right to feel maternal love and made them ambivalent toward their family, especially those sired by slave ship crews, masters, and overseers. Slavery culture separated mothers and children not only physically, but emotionally as well. In Morrison’s words, "[These women] were not mothers but breeders." Slavery restricted both Baby Suggs’ and Sethe’s ability to mother their children. In depicting the experiences of mothers in her story, Morrison exhibits how slavery distorted motherhood, more specifically—the connections amongst mothers and their offspring. In other words, slavery has altered motherhood from the ideal and transformed it into something barely recognizable. Sethe’s love for her children led her to the unthinkable—murder.

Sethe has an intense maternal instinct and regards her kin as a piece of herself.
Nevertheless, Sethe’s maternal rights to her children are not acknowledged by the culture of slavery—as a slave she cannot own anything. Accordingly, while they are enslaved neither Baby Suggs nor Sethe really owned their children. In slavery culture, both the mothers and the children are considered property of
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