Theme Of Slavery In Toni Morrison's Beloved

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In her novel, Beloved, Toni Morrison eloquently depicts the horrors of slavery, while simultaneously delving into the extremities of maternal love. The story revolves around the lives of an escaped slave, Sethe, and her daughter, Denver. However, their home is haunted by the revenant of Sethe’s first daughter, Beloved, whom Sethe killed twenty-eight days after she arrived at her mother in law’s house after escaping from a plantation. Through her use of symbols, her choice of setting, and her manipulation of characters, Morrison demonstrates how slavery affected parent-child relations and redefined the term of maternal love. Morrison utilizes symbols, such as breastfeeding and color, throughout the novel to assert that it is impossible for…show more content…
Before Baby Suggs relocated to 124, she was born into slavery where her captors called her Jenny. Throughout her life on plantations, Baby Suggs had nine children with different men. Sadly, Baby Suggs never knew eight of her nine children because they were taken away from her. By the ninth child, Baby Suggs does not even try to learn his features. She reflects, ‘The last of her children, whom she barely glanced at when he was born because it wasn 't worth the trouble to try to learn features you would never see change into adulthood anyway” (139). Morrison uses Baby Suggs to depict motherhood on a plantation. She emphasizes that slave mothers could not form connections with their children because many were taken away at infancy to be enslaved on other plantations. Morrison goes on to use a more intense example to drive this concept through to her readers when Sethe describes her memory of her mother to Denver and Beloved, “She picked me up and carried me behind the smokehouse. Back there she opened up her dress front and lifted up her breast and pointed under it. Right on her rib was a circle and a cross burn right in the skin” (61). The only way Sethe could recognize her mother from all the other slaves was a brand symbol below her breast. Morrison uses Sethe’s memory to appeal heavily to her reader’s emotions to accentuate the inability for mothers to form close relationships with their children on plantations. Through these portrayals, Morrison aptly communicates the cruelty of the forced separation of families as a result of the slaveholding
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