Trauma In Toni Morrison's Beloved

Powerful Essays
African-Americans have lacked a written cultural history because of the trauma of the peculiar institution. Their his/herstory (her story) is missing accurate narratives from crucial parts such as the middle passage, the era of institution of slavery, as well as the Jim Crow laws of the Reconstruction years. The trauma many black suffered because of these periods have been unspeakable until recently. Tony Morrison in her 1986 noble prize winning book, Beloved, creates a neo-slave narrative to confront these issues. Morrison brings emotional healing to blacks by speaking what was formally unspeakable by going into the psyche of the African American consciousness and reveals historical trauma. In doing so, she not only abolishes racism amongst…show more content…
Morrison uses many different types of metaphors and styles to represent the emotional, spiritual, and physical trauma that African-Americans suffer. However, none represent this as much as scars. The first section I will be expounding on what a physical scar is and the metaphoric meanings scars have on different cultures in relationship with African-Americans as well as those mentioned in Beloved. Secondly, I will be expounding on Morrison ideas of selfhood, particularly how scars symbolize identity and history (the middle passage, slavery, historical events, and life events of African Americans). If identity is equal to body, as Cynthia Dobbs argues in “Tony Morison’s Beloved: Bodies Returned, Modernism Revisited”, and whites equate blackness to body, as Sima Farshid, professor of English at university of Karaj Azad, claims, then whites thought blacks to be despicable, worthless, intelligently incapable, and sexual proactive. Therefore, and thirdly, the psychological consequences of these white ideals depleted black sense of self-worth and ultimately their identity. Hence, Blacks (embodied in Beloved) were forced to repress trauma erected from white dominant culture which caused them a lack in self-indemnity. The characters in Beloved, particularly, Sethe, Paul D, and Beloved learn what it meant to be black by challenging previous notations that they belonged not to themselves but to the…show more content…
Like a scar that healed over to protect from pain, so it was with black “history” in the US from Reconstruction Years until the Civil Rights Era, where African-American “history” and pain slowly encapsulated a wound that was never dealt with. Zadie Smith wittily stated in her modern classic, White Teeth, “Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories” (Smith 299). This is true for the African-American who for centuries had his/her history stifled by white society that failed to give nondiscriminatory accounts because of racism, misconstructions, or indifference. Furthermore, African-Americans, having the trauma inside their consciousness (forever scared), give inaccurate portrayals of their own narrative as well as have insignificant historical discourses. Whether it be from fear of racism, literary system misplacement, depravity, suppression, or feeling defeated, the pain is not articulated. As the keloid scar is as much a part of the black person— a wound transformed into a person’s body image, so pains of their past, most notably slavery, is a part of the African-American— being transformed from African to
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