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Analysis of Toni Morrison's Beloved Essay

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Analysis of Toni Morrison's Beloved

Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning book Beloved, is a historical novel that serves as a memorial for those who died during the perils of slavery. The novel serves as a voice that speaks for the silenced reality of slavery for both men and women. Morrison in this novel gives a voice to those who were denied one, in particular African American women. It is a novel that rediscovers the African American experience. The novel undermines the conventional idea of a story’s time scheme. Instead, Morrison combines the past and the present together. The book is set up as a circling of memories of the past, which continuously reoccur in the book. The past is embedded in the present, and the present has no foundation without the past. Morrison breaks up the time sequence using the visions of the past that arouse forgotten experiences and emotions.

The visions of the various occurrences of slavery survive time and continue to haunt not only the characters directly involved, but also their loved ones. In Beloved, Morrison makes the past visible in the present by making it into a tangible place that can be revisited, where people can be seen and touched, and where images and pictures survive and are projected outward from the mind. Morrison transforms these projected images into events for the reader to experience. The reader becomes part of the tradition of passing on the memories of the past. Yet, in the last two pages of the novel, Morrison instructs her readers that Beloved is not a story to be passed on. (275) It is not a story about happiness or healing or the success of one woman’s escape from slavery. Rather, Morrison communicates these images through a maze of emotions to accentuate the pain and suffering left by the remains of slavery. It is the story and the experience that Morrison wishes for the reader to remember, and not the characters. The novel is based on real events, that have past and been forgotten. Yet Morrison is not telling a story about happiness or healing or the success of women escaped from slavery. Rather Morrison delivers the past experiences of enslaved African American women, a past which is often forgotten. In the novel, Morrison brings to life the events and the stories that become permanently imprinted on the reader’s conscious. Morrison communicates these images through a maze of emotions ...


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...past that is not even theirs. Morrison brings forth a novel that opens the experience of slavery to the reader. She makes the reader see the hopelessness, horrors, and realities of slavery. The reader is forced to contemplate and only try to understand. Beloved stands not as a story, but as a memorial to the “sixty million or more” people that were victims of the bonds of slavery. This is a book that is not to be read, but instead experienced. It is through this novel itself, that the past lives on, and it is this power that makes Beloved stand out and succeed as being a memorial to those who suffered and died; those who would have been forgotten in the past. In essence, Beloved is not a story about slavery and its affect on the people involved, instead it is the experience. For Morrison, history is something to be reflected on, and she does this by reenacting the horrors of slavery and the impacts it had on the people involved. The reader is left to come to their own conclusions, and their own interpretations. What Morrison is essentially saying at the end is that Beloved is not just about individuals and individual experiences but about the experience of a race and a community.


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