Hypocrisy of Mr. Garner and Mr. Bodwin in Toni Morrison's Beloved

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The Hypocrisy of Mr. Garner and Mr. Bodwin in Toni Morrison's Beloved In Toni Morrison's novel Beloved, both Mr. Garner and Mr. Bodwin are presented initially as decent men, with views on the black race that differ from all the rest of the white men in the book. The readers first impression of each of these men is favorable. With further reading and thought however, the reader notices more and more details that tend to change their initial impression. By the end of the book both men seem to have lost their appeal. Even though there is very little said against Mr. Garner, and even less against Mr. Bodwin, it seems that Morrison was trying to cause very mixed opinions about each one of these characters. In the end, Mr. Garner seems no less racist than his fellow slave owners, and Mr. Bodwin, though opposed to slavery also appears to be much more racist than he lets on. Mr. Garner is the owner of Sweet Home, the plantation where Sethe, her family, and others had been slaves before their escape. He is singled out from the rest of the white men right away. When his character is first introduced the narrator speaks of him fighting with other farmers about his slaves being men. "Now at Sweet Home, my niggers is men every one of em. Bought em thataway, raised em thataway. Men every one" he had told other farmers (Morrison 10). With this comment Mr. Garner was fishing for the reaction he loved to hear, "I wouldn't have no nigger men round my wife.", to which he'd retaliate "neither would I, neither would I"(11). On the surface Mr. Garner is presented as a very admirable man. He "ran a special kind of slavery", Baby Suggs had thought, "treating them as paid labor" (140). The way... ... middle of paper ... ...s than noble. Both men seem to put on a mightier-than-thou air when in public, and try to appear as non-racist as possible. Yet Mr. Garner owns slaves, an obviously racist act, even if he does allow them more than other slave owners would. And Mr. Bodwin who claims to be against slavery, and has fought to end it, displays in his own house a figure that embodies slavery. It appears that the only difference between other slave owners and Mr. Garner, is that they don't try and hide their racism or pretend they're better than anyone else. Mr. Bodwin does not own slaves, and does not believe in the practice, but he is still racist as we can see from the figure in his house. Which of these is better? Who can say? But most people aren't fond of hipocrits. Works Cited Morrison, Toni. Beloved. Markham, Ontario: Penguin Books Canada Limited, 1987

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