slaverybel Impact of Slavery in Toni Morrison's Beloved
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Impact of Slavery on the Individual Exposed in Beloved
In her novel, Beloved, Toni Morrison conveys her strong feelings about slavery. One of the major themes throughout the book is the impact that slavery has on the
individual. Morrison utilizes the characters Mr. Garner and Schoolteacher to illustrate how slavery affects everyone in a different way.
Though Morrison portrays Mr. Garner as the more humane master, in actuality he is no different then Schoolteacher, because ultimately they are both slave owners. Morrison includes the character, Mr. Garner, to show that even if you allow your slaves to do certain activities, you are still a displeasing human being because you are a slave owner. Garner allowed his slaves to choose wives, handle guns, learn to read and even purchase a mother's freedom. Garner let Halle buy his mother, Baby Suggs' freedom, but as Halle points out to Sethe , his wife, " If he hadn't of, she would of dropped in his cooking stove...I pay him for her last years and in return he got you, me and three more coming up" ( Morrison, 195-96). Garner allowed for one slave's freedom, but received stronger, younger slaves in her place, which in his mind made him the victor of the deal.
Schoolteacher on the other hand treated his slaves without any respect because he did not believe they deserved any. He use to measure them with string as if they were animals and ask them foolish questions in order to conduct research. He also involved his nephews in these dehumanizing acts by persuading them to physically abuse the slaves, while he watched. At one point in the book, the narrator discusses Schoolteacher's views on how Garner ran the plantation, " the spoiling these p...
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...th a degree of trust and respect he was still a slave owner and that had definite effects on his slaves. Yes, Schoolteacher had a more devastating effect on his slaves because he held absolutely no respect or compassion for any of his slaves, but these two characters were not very different. As Halle says, "What they say is the same. Loud or soft" (Morrison, 195). Halle sums it up perfectly, it did not matter that they treated their slaves differently, because in the end, they both owned people. And those people were permanently effected by being owned and what their owners, nice or not, did to them.
Kubitschek, M.D. Toni Morrison : A Critical Companion. London: Greenwood Press, 1998.
Morrison, Tony. Beloved. New York: Penguin Books, 1987.