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Characterism In Toni Morrison's Beloved

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Toni Morrison’s African-American novel, Beloved, is set after the Civil War and it depicts the story of a young woman named Sethe, whom although has escaped slavery, still suffers from the repercussions of such a traumatizing era. A major character within the novel, Beloved, whom randomly arrives at Sweet Home, is a key element that Toni Morrison makes use of. While it is superficially accepted that Beloved represents the reincarnation of Sethe’s murdered daughter, Toni Morrison attempts to say much more. Rather, the character of Beloved serves as the embodiment of all the atrocities and toils of slavery. Through Beloved’s search for identity, her behavioral characteristics, her search for motherly love, and her involvement in the symbol of…show more content…
She barely gained the dry bank of the stream before she sat down and leaned against a mulberry tree” (60). The represents a rebirth and reincarnation for Beloved, showing her entrance to the physical world. Later, when Sethe, Denver, and Beloved talk about dying, Beloved once again speaks of this metaphorical river, this time including a bridge. “’Don’t you remember we played together by the stream’ ‘I was on the bridge,’ said Beloved. ‘You see me on the bridge?’ ‘No, by the stream. The water back in the woods.’ ‘Oh, I was in the water. I saw her diamonds down there. I could touch them.’” (89). The motif of water/rivers and crossing bridges can be paralleled to when slaves were forced across the Ocean into the Americas, forced to be born into a new life. Also, the material bridge spanning the river Beloved speaks of is a metaphor for the spiritual bridge between life and death. Beloved speaks of waiting on the bridge, then crossing over to the “other side,” where the souls of other victims of slavery awaited sharing their collective memories with her. Therefore, when Beloved was reborn out of water, she possessed the knowledge of all of the victims of slavery who existed on the other side. This becomes evident when Beloved, Denver, and Sethe, begin to recount their own individual memories that entwine with one another towards the end of the novel. Beloved’s memories,…show more content…
As many slaves were sold into slavery at a young age, it is probable that they remember very little of their life prior their experience as a slave. Beloved’s search for her past is akin to this, in that she survives through stories told to her regarding her past life. For Beloved, stories of the past both reaffirm her short existence, and remind her of a time when she received the complete love of her mother. As seen on page 69, telling stories became “A way to feed her,” to uphold her existence as a ghostly presence. In pleading for such stories of the past, Beloved was in a sense both reaffirming her previous existence and building a past upon the spoken words of her mother, a process which a victim of slavery might engage in. Closely related to the topic of Beloved’s search for her past is her ongoing search for motherly love. In the era of slavery, every African-American was treated as a piece of property. Even when mothers gave birth to children, they technically did not even own them, as the salve owner could auction off her children. The idea of having a mother and child relationship was almost non-existent. This connection is one of the strongest emotional bonds throughout nature, even being observed in animals. One of the major themes in Beloved deals with such mother and
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