At the start of the novel, Sethe tries to avoid the past and bury the traumatizing memories of her past. Part one opens with the words "124 was spiteful" (3) which sets the tone for the first portion as it associates a Sethe's home with a failure to face the past and thus, bitterness and pain. Sethe appears to realize the impossibility of escaping from memories and tells Denver, "`The picture is still there and what's ...
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...from slavery as well as the misery slavery itself causes her. Ultimately, Sethe makes a choice to let go of the past as she releases Beloved's hand and thus moves on to the future. In the very last segment of the novel, the narrator notes that finally "they forgot [Beloved]. Like an unpleasant dream during a troubling sleep" (290). Sethe no longer represses history but actually lets it go. As a result, Beloved becomes nothing more than "an unpleasant dream," suggesting that she does not exist as a real person, but rather has no substance as a mere fantasy or hallucination which has no value to the community or to Sethe, Denver, or Paul D. Sethe moves on with her life as she has already faced the past, tried to make amends for her mistakes, and finally realizes her own value in life.
Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Penguin Group, 1988.
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