Sethe is the female protagonist in Beloved. She lost her mother at a very early age and she too is a slave. She was brought to the Sweet Home Plantation as a slave where she marries Halle Suggs and bears four children from him. She as a slave suffers a lot inhumane treatment at the plantation by the white masters. She is thrashed hardheartedly and milked like a cow.
The most important moment that Sethe ever has with her mother is when she shows Sethe the slave’s mark upon her body, “the cross in the circle burned into the skin under her breast, by which Sethe will be able to identify her if the need should ever come.”(61) As a result of her motherless childhood, Sethe wishes to be the woman and the mother who has “milk love enough for all.”(100) As Paul D informs Sethe, this kind of love is unhealthy for a former slave woman, who might have anyone or anything taken from her at a moment’s notice. She is considered overprotective, over obsessed and too prideful because of her attitude about her mothering. Even though Sethe lacks a real knowledge of her mother when she was a child, she is still able to claim some information about her from Nan, who was assigned to care for Sethe and the other slave children. Her memory of the
Even when the characters are no longer literally enslaved, their thoughts and actions are haunted by their memories of their earliest and formative experiences as someone else’s property. In Beloved, there is an attempt to enter the consciousness of individuals who were enslaved and to animate the feelings that must have been associated with so much uncertainty, loss, and violation. In the novel, that personification is made manifest in the character Beloved. Beloved can be seen as a representation, a personification of all the trauma and catastrophic human cost of the Middle Passage and slavery. According to Morrison, the idea for the novel Beloved originated with the historical narrative of MARGARET GARNER, a woman who in 1856 ran away from the farm where she was enslaved in Kentucky.
Sethe, a Slave to Her Past Numerous authors in American literature produce characters whose origins are unusual, unfamiliar, and often mysterious in the work. Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved successfully introduced a character that resembles the features mentioned above. Sethe, a young black woman born into slavery escapes from extreme bondage in the Nineteenth Century in the United States with memories bounded with torture. The novel has many scenes that are very striking, most of which have to deal with the treatment of the African-Americans. Slavery has always been one of the appalling phenomena in our world.
A key feminine quality for women in general around this time period was their capacity for being a mother. Throughout the story, Beloved is one of the many memories that haunts Sethe which she tries to repress in vain because she attempted to murder her own child in order to save them from the same physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that she endured during her time working at Sweet Home. However, Morrison depicts this as an act of kindness. Sethe 's character is given a connection to the audience for her motherly instincts, but also a way for the audience to reflect on the fact that her attempted murders were out of motherly love and protection. Placing Sethe in the scope of many women of the time who had lived without the harshness of slavery are forced to confront the weight of a decision that they never had to make nor most likely ever will.
He orders his nephews to whip Sethe. The whipping of Sethe opens the skin of her back. “Schoolteacher’s nephew represents a dismissal by whites of the dehumanizing qualities of slavery”. When Sethe is raped, schoolteacher observed how her body is exploited. The scars on Sethe’s back are so many that they resemble the trunk of a tree with its branches.
Trauma in Morrison’s Beloved Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a Pulitzer award winning novel that is inspired by real and documented historical accounts. The book is inspired by the life and experiences of a fugitive slave, Margaret Garner who chose to murder one of her children instead of returning her to slavery. On close reading of Beloved, a reader may question why an African American author would choose to focus her writing on the extreme violence that occurred in a Black family instead of focusing on the oppression and aggression they were subjected to by their white counterparts. While the author uses the novel to unveil the experiences the African Americans went through while they lived in the bondage of slavery, the author communicates a
Through the deviation from the assumed expectations of mothering, Sethe pursues an identity that will enable her to reaffirm her ownership over her children. The voiceless position of the black woman, traditionally unrepresented because of her gender, class and ethnicity, finds a way to speak through murder. Her subjectivity cannot be represented through words, as Hélène Cixous suggests in The Laugh of Medusa, because language is the owner’s instrument. Therefore, she can only enter the world of discourse by performing a violent act, which undermines the basis of a slave system whose weakest part is Sethe herself. In a desperate attempt to hurt those who hurt her more, the woman affirms her desire to put her children ‘where they could be safe’
The intensity of 124’s volume was a result of Beloved’s spirit attacking Sethe’s mind and soul. As Stamp Paid approaches the house, he trusts his instincts to “guide him in and through the stepped-up haunting 124 was subject to, as evidenced by the voices he [hears] from the road” (Morrison 201). These voices are both metaphorical, through Beloved’s loud spirit controlling Sethe’s emotions, as well as physical, through the three women of the house starting a new joyful life together, laughing at themselves with no one around to judge them. Yet, the beginning of part two in this book is also foreshadowing the torment Beloved causes Sethe. Their laughter turns to chaos as Beloved executes her original plan of returning: revenge on Sethe.