On reading Beloved by Toni Morrison and Don Quixote by Kathy Acker, there seem to be quite a few similarities in themes and characters contained in these texts, the most prevalent of which seems to be of love and language as a path to freedom. We see in Acker’s Don Quixote the abortion she must have before she embarks on a quest for true freedom, which is to love. Similarly, in Morrison’s Beloved, there is a kind abortion, the killing of Beloved by Sethe, which results in and from the freedom that real love provides. And in both texts, the characters are looking for answers and solutions in these "word-shapes" called language.
In Acker’s Don Quixote, the abortion with which the novel opens is a precondition for surrendering the "constructed self." For Acker, the woman in position on the abortion table over whom a team of doctors and nurses work represents, in an ultimate sense, woman as a constructed object. The only hope is somehow to take control, to subvert the constructed identity on order to name oneself: "She had to name herself. When a doctor sticks a steel catheter into you while you’re lying on your back and you to; finally, blessedly, you let go of your mind. Letting go of your mind is dying. She needed a new life. She had to be named" (Don Quixote 9-10). And she must name herself for a man – become a man – before the nobility and the dangers of her ordeals will be esteemed. She is to be a knight on a noble quest to love "someone other than herself" and thus to right all wrongs and to be truly free.
In another of Acker’s works she writes: "Having an abortion was obviously just like getting fucked. If we closed our eyes and spread our legs, we’d be taken care of. They stripped us of our clothes. Gave us white sheets...
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... the end of the text by a community getting in touch with a "language of their own," while Acker’s protagonist is subverting texts to find or create something this "primal."
Don Quixote is far more easily paired with the ghost of Beloved. They both are searching for a language they can use and understand and know with the "word-shapes" that they are given. They are both on quests to find love and freedom that are not a product of "slavery." They both are in search of a name, an identity, that is not a product of an "abortion." They are both childlike yet adult, trying to understand. And neither of them are asking for, or offering, forgiveness.
Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote. Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces.
Ed Mack, Maynard et al. WW Norton and Co. New York, NY. 1992.
Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York, Penguin Books USA Inc, 1988.