The Consequences Of Alienation In Toni Morrison's Sweet Home

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Denver therefore bears the brunt of Sethe’s communal alienation. Only an infant when her sister is killed by her mother, Denver is sheltered from reality. Never having endured the life of a slave, Denver undergoes a secondary oppression at the hands of the matriarchal characters in her family. Denver’s forced isolation leads to a naïveté that has troubling consequences on the development of her own individuality: having been made a pariah by a community yet only learning the reason for her alienation at a later age leads to Denver’s inability to cope with reality and her subsequent withdrawal into the safety of isolation. Despite representing Sethe’s life after slavery, Sethe’s inability to both forgive and release herself from her guilt sees her desperate attempts to veil it with a love for Denver that Paul D claims is “too thick” (Morrison, 2007: 203). Memories of her dead daughter are thus both an implement of healing and a tool of masochism. Sethe’s forces her into a kind of stasis; an interloper that prevents her from moving on from her haunted past. But, unlike her mother, eventually “Denver prevents the past from trespassing on her life” (Ayadi, 2011: 266) and becomes a transformed female figure.

With the introduction of a long-lost friend of Sethe’s from her days at the slave yard, Sweet Home, Paul D at first appears to be the liberator of Sethe from the shackles of her actions and the heavy weight of not only her child’s death. However, despite being the figure of
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