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The Importance Of Slavery In Toni Morrison's Beloved

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In Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved, which was written in 1987, she demonstrates the social divide between classes during the time of slavery through various experiences that the main character, Sethe, goes through. These experiences contain an abundance of imagery that allows the reader to get a deeper more visual look into the dehumanizing horrors of slavery that fail to be told and shown in History textbooks. In Morrison’s novel there appears to be a very evident pattern in what Sethe experiences as a black slave. Initially in the book, it appears that every white person has a different view and attitude towards slavery, while some may seem to treat blacks more fairly and kindly others violently and sexually abuse blacks/slaves. However, by…show more content…
In the novel Sethe still remains haunted and traumatized by this occurrence, as she recalls when the boys came and “stole [her] milk (81).” This violent act of brutality and humiliation is depicted powerfully as Sethe states, “I am full God damn it of two boys with mossy teeth, one sucking on my breast the other holding me down, their book-reading teacher watching and writing it up (83).” This shows Sethe’s raw pain and trauma as she is able to easily recall the memory. According to the article, Bigotry, Breast Milk, Bric-a-Brac, a baby, and a Bit in “Beloved”: Toni Morrison 's portrayal of Racism and Hegemony, “When the nephews steal Sethe’s milk, they treat her, on one hand, like an animal by milking her and laying claim to all that it produces (Humann, 2004, 9).” Also, by observing and documenting the rape, schoolteacher is sexually exploiting Sethe. Therefore, as he has ultimate power and control over her, he is able to rebuild the overall nature of her existence, one that is less than human and animal. Through the nephews and schoolteachers actions it is clear that they are dehumanizing Sethe, in this case both violently and sexually. To schoolteacher and his nephews the divide between whites and blacks go way beyond social, economic, and racial differences, they consider blacks to be nothing like them. As the schoolteacher and his nephews stand at the very top of the social triangle there beliefs of superiority over the blacks is very heightened, which enables them to commit violent acts against their slaves; Thus, abusing the institution of slavery, in order to show their power and keep blacks in their “rightful” place, under
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