Essay on Toni Morrison's Beloved - How We Define Ourselves

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How We Define Ourselves in Beloved The idea of how we define ourselves is a topic that has much force in the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison. Two of the characters in the novel have strongly opposite ideas of defining their own “selves”. Baby Suggs displays a very healthy sense of self, completely based on only who she is as a person, and not relying on any other person to assist her in her definition. She is an independent person and loves her own “self” greatly. Sethe, on the other hand, has an unhealthy sense of self because who she is is strongly dependent on her interactions and relationships with her children. The above is excerpt is provided to indicate the focus of the essay. The complete essay begins below: The journey towards finding one’s “self” is a long and arduous one, twisting and turning in every direction. The destination is a personal identity -- a definition of who one is, independent of anyone else. Some people find a straight path that leads them directly to the discovery of their “selves”. Other people take the road that has many switch-backs and obstacles to overcome, but eventually these people make it to the destination of “self” as well. There are still others who get lost along the way. The process of finding one’s “self” is strongly reliant upon our interactions with other people. From the beginning, as infants, to when we are still small children, we have no idea who we are or what our relationship to the world is. Our perceptions of the world are through the eyes of our parents or guardians and other adults who try to teach us and show us the world. They instill in us their own ideas of right and wrong, good and bad. As we grow, our peers have much influence over h... ... middle of paper ... ...t our own sense of "self". We never stop learning and experiencing new things, so our definitions of "self" are constantly being challenged and sometimes altered. However, when we begin to rely solely upon other people to know who we are, our "self" is no longer our own. A true sense of "self" is responsive to one's interactions and relationships with people, but defined only by one's own mind and heart, independent of others. The road towards personal identity is long. Several people may help us out along the way, hydrating us as needed; carrying us as needed. But, in the end, we hopefully cross the finish line on our own. Works Cited 1. Kubitcheck, M.D. Toni Morrison: A Critical Companion. London: Greenwood Press, 1998. 2. Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Plume, 1987. 3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. 4. Secrets and Lies.

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