Toni Morrison's Trauma In Beloved

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In her novel “Beloved” author Toni Morrison explores femininity, breaking it down into motherhood and sexuality, and examines how trauma effects these concepts. Through her use of flashbacks and analysis of the woman Sethe becomes because of trauma, the reader understands the difficulty of her “Rough Choice.” Slavery was an equally devastating experience for both men and women, who were torn from their homeland, family and tradition, then forced to work. They performed grueling labor and were denied their most basic rights; all while being subjected to mental and physical degradation. Enslaved people were beaten without mercy, separated from loved ones, and, regardless of sex, treated as property in the eyes of the law. Despite these common factors, the…show more content…
Men generally plowed the fields, while women hoed. Both male and female slaves were prevented from having three greatly important things, Family, Dignity and Control over their own lives. These were largely unattainable for any slave; however, these things were kept from slaves in different ways. Female slaves were faced with the prospect of being forced into sexual relationships against their will for the purposes of reproduction, and they were often raped by their masters and overseers. Perhaps more harrowing, many slave women had to witness their daughters suffering the same fate. In Beloved, Morrison shows how Female sexuality during slavery was repressed, restricting women from exploring their sexuality on their own terms, even as free people. When Paul D arrives at 124, Sethe tells him that she’d been raped and beaten while at Sweet Home. She says “After I left you, those boys came in there and took my milk. That’s what they came in there for. Held me down and took it.” (pg. 37) Here we see Sethe experience something that countless other slave women had, loss of sexual agency and personhood. She hyper-focuses on the loss of her milk because that hurts the most for her.
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