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The Association of Maternal Bonds and Identity in "Beloved"

Powerful Essays
Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved, is a “haunting stray of a mother’s love that frames a series of irrelated love stories by multiple narrators” (Bell 61). The main character Sethe is a mother who fails to realize her children’s needs. She attempts to protect her children from the community amongst many other dangers such as slavery and love, however ultimately isolating them. Sethe’s character as well as actions confirms the “struggle and psychological trauma of slavery” (Napierkowski 35) from which she suffers. Shapes of almonds and depth “like two wells,”(9) Sethe’s eyes are “some sign to warn folks of what that emptiness held” (9). Sethe has yet to confront the absence of her mother, which reflects the idea that “one of the cruelest effects of slavery is how it severs bonds of love, particularly those between mother and child” (Napierkowski 34). Sethe hinders from the effects of slavery, ruining her relationships to come and future. Conclusively the characterization of Sethe, Beloved, and Denver acknowledges the complicated dynamics of mother daughter relationships amongst themselves, while revealing Sethe’s inability to establish a solid sense of identity.

Sethe is characterized as a noble woman. She thinks highly of herself and the community shuns her because of it. Sethe steals food from the restaurant instead of waiting in line with her community. She considers herself to be above them. Though she walks with her nose in the air, she is a mother who ironically lets ghosts of her past haunt her present. Isolating herself from her past, Sethe’s “goals are to escape memories of the past and protect the one child she has left” (Napierkowski 32). As a slave Sethe faces many hardships at Sweet Home, a place where she is not ...

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...ons guilt, hate, and passion which lead to the repair of relationships that were once shattered and irreparable.

Works Cited

Bell, Bernard W. “African American Review.” Rpt. in Modern Critical Interpretations: Toni Morrison. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1999. 57-68. Print.

Demetrakopoulos, Stephanie A. “African American Review.” Rpt. in Modern Critical Interpretations : Toni Morrison. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1999. 69-78. Print.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Plume, 1988. Print.

Napierkowski, Marie Rose and Deborah A. Stanley, eds. “Beloved.” Novels for Students. Vol. 6. Farmington Hills: Gale, 1999. 34 vols. 25-41. Print.

Perkins, Wendy. “Essay for Novels for Students.” Novels for Students. Eds. Marie Rose Napierkowski and Deborah A. Stanley. Vol. 6. Farmington Hills: Gale, 1999. 34 vols. 41-44. Print.
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