Overcoming The Horrors Of Slavery In Toni Morrison's Beloved

Better Essays
Since the late 1970s, there has been a strong focus on Morrison’s representation of African American slave experience and history in America. For Morrison, writing these works is a means of healing or recovery; she vividly depicts the experiences of these slaves, their history, loss of identity and self-esteem in her works. A writer like Susan Bowers places Morrison in a long tradition of African American apocalyptic writing that looks back in time unveiling the horrors of the past in order to transform them (209). Morrison therefore exposes the past lives of these slaves, how they were treated as slaves in America and the effect it had on them. Kirby notes that she is able to portray this experience vividly in her works
…show more content…
She brings African American history to the consciousness of her readers just as Faye Kegley in Remembering Slavery through Toni Morrison’s Beloved agrees that she is able to do this ‘through non-western eyes by re-telling history through the lives of former American slaves’(3). The characters’ rememories in Beloved act as the novel’s purpose of bringing to light the experiences of the past and this ultimately empowers the characters and readers as well. Susan Bowers notes that the past that was too painful for just one character to remember alone can be remembered together. She also agrees that ‘Remembering is part of reversing the “dirtying” process that robbed slaves of self-esteem’ (106). One way to deal with the horrors of slavery as Morrison expresses in her works is to repress this painful memory. Bouson describes this “rememory” as ‘uncontrolled remembering and relieving of emotionally painful experiences,’ (135). Critic Krumholz agrees to the statement of Bouson that rememory becomes the characters’ ‘central ritual of healing’…show more content…
The text is an exemplum of African American historical fiction. Morrison based the story on Margaret Garner, a Kentucky slave who killed her own child when recaptured after escaping the north. Graham Thompson in his American Culture in the 1980s points that
Morrison changes the known details of Garner’s life in several ways but, rather than just investigating the events of Garner’s escape and return, projects Garner’s life into the future to imagine the undocumented legacy of these events and, most hauntingly, the return of the murdered child, Beloved, to Sethe’s house at 124 Bluestone Road, Cincinnati. (qtd. In Lei 8)
Some incidents in the text can stand as incidents that really took place during slavery in America. Beloved clearly conceptualizes American history. Most apparent in the novel is the historical perspective: Morrison constructs history through the acts and consciousness of African American slaves through the perspective of the dominant white culture (Krumholz 107). Morrison wrote the text to recover the stories of slavery from the point of view of slaves in order to remind African Americans of their past. To achieve this, she depends on the African American oral culture and mythology adapted from the West African culture. Ferguson sees her novel Beloved as ‘a deeply imagined historical novel, in which what is commonly called the supernatural is also the manifestation of history, (113).