Sethe, like many other female slaves, was raped, tortured, sold, and was forced away from her children. This led to deep psychological damage as well as physical scars. From Sethe’s point of view,
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 a minor character like Ella who gives an account of what happened to her while being enslaved; she--or rather the narrator-- talks about being raped by her owners, and at one point has a child from them and lets it die by itself. One of the only memories Sethe has of her mom is standing below her mom while she’s being hung. The accounts of each character is a testament to the depth of hurt that was caused by slavery, although these characters weren’t real, the occurances in the novel were not out of the ordinary at the time set in the book. Sethe kills her own child in fear of the pain that white people would take them, and put them through the physical and emotional agony that she had to go through. This means that death, in Sethe’s mind, is better than what they would go through at the hands of a slave
Between Sethe and Beloved, there is always a dramatic situation occurring. Sethe, a former slave, lives in house 124 in Cincinnati, Ohio along with her daughter, Denver, her two sons, Howard and Buglar, and Baby Snuggs, her mother-in-law. Many years ago Sethe gave birth to a beautiful baby girl but ended up killing her while she was just a sweet little infant to keep her from getting taken by the slave catchers and being treated horribly as a slave. After she killed her baby many people that knew Sethe, held a grudge against her including her mother-in-law. Proceeding the death of Sethe’s baby, Baby Snuggs became very ill and eventually passed away.
Both two characters were oppressed during those times and patriarchal took a stand on all society, again woman were subjected by the race as it was only lacks who took a form of being the slaves. Sethe and Denver are the slavery escapes in the novel of Beloved, both of them believed that their house was haunted by the ghost by the name of Beloved. Sethe worked as a slave at Home Sweet and was found by master, who tried to attempted to capture her and her children, but likely he escaped and ran away in the tool shed and attempted to kill them all. Sethe only succeeded in killing her older daughter by cutting her throat with the saw, after she explained to the white mans that she was trying to put them in the safe place, so this is the other way which Sethe tried to escape slavery, oppression and as the mother she did not want her children to have the experiences she faces that is why she tried to kill all the children. Another
Cruelty stood as the motivation for the baby’s death; it is displayed in Sethe’s former slave owner, the School Teacher, who would label his slaves as animals, recording any evidence of animal like characteristics that the slaves would exhibit to make himself feel less inhumane because the concept was to believe that slaves were no more and no less than animals and that it was okay to harm them in any way. “I am full God damn it of two boys with mossy teeth, one sucking on my breast the other holding me down, their book-reading teacher watching and writing it up.” (70) As the Schoolteacher's nephews harass Sethe, he observes how Sethe exhibits her behavior and he records her responses that are similar to animals. This conveys the extent of cruelty slave owners would stoop down to, they would stoop low enough to convince themselves that African Americans were not human and treat them as if they were equivalent to a
This played into Morrison’s idea that an ancestral history of suffering cannot be easily erased, but it can fade over time with hard work and support from your community. When the community came to help Sethe after exiling her years go, they allowed Sethe to set some her demons free, like Beloved. Denver reconnecting with the community allowed her mother to begin to move out of the past and start there family’s long road to being at peace with the demon’s of their
However, her connection of Beloved to the shared African-American identity, as well as her very writing of the novel itself, suggest otherwise. It is only through remembering slavery that one can avoid passing it on - that is, avoid allowing society to repeat the same mistakes. Morrison 's deliberate tense shift on page 324 is a call to action urging people today to remember slavery: "This is not a story to pass on". Even the final word of the novel - simply Beloved 's name - encourages readers to name and accept the past. By finally giving the legacy of slavery a name instead of using "she" and "her", Morrison shows that coming to terms with the past can lead to a rewarding
Morrison 's masterpiece Beloved, is dedicated and refers to the number of blacks who were killed as captives in Africa or on slave ships and, therefore, never made it into slavery. Through non-western eyes, Morrison allows the reader to re-vision and understand African-American history by re-telling history through the lives of former African slaves, because the “violence within the African American community can only be understood in a context in which ... the white power continue[s] to violate African American lives.”( Kader Aki, 1) The novel re-conceptualizes American history and is concerned with historical transmission which continues into the present. Beloved places historical trauma at the center of American race relations and reveals two denials of historical trauma through unveiling the violence. The racist institutional power denied the violation of African American lives, and the black society refused to admit the truth of African American familial self-destruction and self-hatred. And so American racial trauma became submerged.
Morrison 's two works are filled with situations where mothers are put to the test; obligations are sole providers, demand in the upbringing of their children and the way in which they make use of their power are constantly being supervised and questioned by the community and society and it also argues that some of what these women think, feel and act can be regarded as an outcome of slavery. In Beloved, Morrison portrays a single woman named Sethe, who raises her children with the memories of slavery constantly present. In Beloved the author explores the mother-child bond, presenting depictions of the supernatural where the reader witnesses a dead infant return to life. Sethe is a mother who has experienced terrible events and she is a woman of tremendous, inner strength who has survived the brutality which was a common aspect of slavery. As a result of having experienced the evils of slavery her greatest fear is that her children will suffer this as well.