The Theme Of Slavery In Toni Morrison's Beloved

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The practice of slavery is one of the most significant events in the US history. It not only caused a civil war between the north and the south that almost separated the whole nation, but also many African Americans suffered from the slavery. Referring slavery as the “original sin” of the United States, Morrison indicates the profound impacts of slavery to both antebellum and postbellum society in the US. In her novel Beloved, she suggests the loss of identity, separation of family, and physical and mental abuse that are brought up by the slavery and reminds people not to forget the history.
The slavery causes a destruction and confusion of the identities of the African Americans. The reference of the African Americans as “negroes” instead of names by the schoolteacher shows the dehumanized side of the slavery. When the schoolteacher accompanied by other three whites to catch the escaped slaves- Sethe and her family- he refers every black people he meets as “negroes” regardless to their names.
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In the plantation, Sethe is beaten by schoolteacher many times and she “got a tree”- which is a severe scar- on her back. The “tree on her back” represents the tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden which symbolizes the original sin of Adam and Eve. Morrison here indicates that the slavery is the original sin of the America with the use of symbolism. It also shows the physical brutality and violence of slavery. What’s worse than the physical abuse is the psychological trauma. In order to prevent himself from going crazy from his experience as a slave, Paul D hides his feelings and emotions into a tobacco tin “buried in his chest where a red heart used to be.” By not feeling anything, he can protect his humanity from encroached by the slavery. The tobacco tin symbolizes the close of his emotion. Therefore, the impact of slavery damage both the physical and psychological status of the enslaved

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