The Mother-Daughter Relationship in Toni Morrison's Beloved

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The Mother-Daughter Relationship in Toni Morrison's Beloved

In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, 124 can be thought of as a character with human characteristics that are brought about by the spiritual presence of Sethe’s deceased daughter. It is almost as if the house is the physical element of this spiritual force, and the naming of the house as simply 124 immediately allows “readers to unconsciously register the unseen number three in 1-2-4” (Washington 175). This idea becomes relevant because after registering this, we can see a reoccurring pattern of this concept throughout the text. First of all, there were three females in Sethe’s family, and after murdering her eldest daughter, there was left a “triad of grandmother, mother, and daughter” (Washington). In Washington’s article she elaborates heavily on this idea of the missing number three as the number suggests a spiritual element. Aje, defined as “a controlling matriarch who uses her power, forcefully or gently, to guide her family and often the community” (Washington 172) is overwhelmingly present at 124, and is an Africana theoretical perspective concept that Washington attempts to define in her article while also interpreting the intricacies of the mother-daughter relationship in Beloved (172). However, it seems that there are also major ideas that play a part in this concept of Aje. Through Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Teresa Washington’s “The Mother-Daughter Aje Relationship in Toni Morrison’s Beloved,” it seems that the Aje relationship can be defined by several reoccurring themes which consist of the idea of unification through the act of violence, male presence, or the lack thereof, and the concept of Sethe’s self in comparison to her “best self.”

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... my theory, Beloved understands that her mother put her in a safe place, but at the same time she does not fully understand why she was placed there alone, and for this she is angry, and in turn takes her anger out on her mother in an attempt to destroy her, so evidently, Washington is contradicting herself.

Through Beloved and Washington’s article, the concept of the Aje mother-daughter relationship becomes prevalent. This concept is emphasized by unification through violence, male absence, and the idea of Sethe’s “best self.” Washington says, “Beloved revolves around a mother and daughter’s desire to enjoy perfect unity” (Washington 174). Clearly, we see this concept and ultimately what happens as a result of Sethe’s desire, and the destructive path it leads her down, as of course, destruction is a characteristic of the mother-daughter Aje relationship.
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