Memories are works of fiction, selective representations of experiences actual or imagined. They provide a framework for creating meaning in one's own life as well as in the lives of others. In Toni Morrison's novel Beloved, memory is a dangerous and debilitating faculty of human consciousness. Sethe endures the tyranny of the self imposed prison of memory. She expresses an insatiable obsession with her memories, with the past. Sethe is compelled to explore and explain an overwhelming sense of yearning, longing, thirst for something beyond herself, her daughter, her Beloved. Though Beloved becomes a physical manifestation of these memories, her will is essentially defined by and tied to the thoughts, experiences and emotions of Sethe. Sethe's struggle is an intensely personal process of self negation; her identity is complicated, convoluted, and nearly consumed by her memory. Morrison suggests at least implicitly that Sethe's crisis is by no means unique. Rather than a positive or negative trait, memory (and the self destructive powers contained within it) may be an unavoidable part of the human condition.
Like Mr. Bodwin who hid his childhood treasures in the yard at 124, Sethe attempts to bury her most precious possessions in order to protect them literally and metaphorically. "Whites might dirty her all right, but not her best thing...the part of her that was clean" (251). Sethe cannot bear for her children to possible suffer the pain and humiliations she has endured. She would rather live with the memories of her crimes, the memories of how her children might have been, than surrender her future and theirs to school teacher. Her decision to kill her children and her...
... middle of paper ...
..., as though he or she was doomed to repeat it for eternity. Memory represents an obstacle to such an existence;
it is both barrier and bridge between individuals. By the conclusion of the novel, memories dissipate and dissolve. They do not linger. The reader is left with a sense that some things should be forgotten or at least ignored. "Remembering seemed unwise"(274).
Perhaps, as in Housekeeping, memory houses a great paradox: the ability to create a false sense of completeness, the ability to provoke the most profound sense of loss. It is the paradox woven into the nature of memory which moves time forward. "The force behind the movement of time is a mourning that will not be comforted" (Housekeeping, 192).
Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Signet, 1991.
Robinson, Marilynne. Housekeeping. New York: Bantam Books, 1982.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Memory’s Ghost in Beloved “A moment lasts all of a second, but the memory lasts forever”- Anonymous In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the concept of memory is so intertwined with the novel that it is becomes a character; like any character it has impulses, it breaths, it moves, it pushes action forward, and it prevents it; if repressed it sometimes fights; it gives life, and attempts to take it away. Memory and identity are inseparable and interchangeable; what happened in the past becomes not only a part of you; it is you; in the same light it is also possible to identify a strongly felt emotion with a previous memory; a memory of how you felt during a traumatic situation that is played over yo... [tags: Literary Analysis, Toni Morrison]
1572 words (4.5 pages)
- The Character of Beloved in Toni Morrison's Beloved Perhaps one of the most important issues in Toni Morrison's award-winning novel Beloved is Morrison's intentional diversity of possible interpretations. However the text is looked at and analyzed, it is the variety of these multiple meanings that confounds any simple interpretation and gives the novel the complexity. The debate rages on over many topics, but one issue of central and basic importance to the understanding of the novel is defining the different possibilities for interpreting the title character.... [tags: Toni Morrison Beloved Essays]
2498 words (7.1 pages)
- Rememory in Toni Morrison's Beloved To survive, one must depend on the acceptance and integration of what is past and what is present. In her novel Beloved, Toni Morrison carefully constructs events that parallel the way the human mind functions; this serves as a means by which the reader can understand the activity of memory. "Rememory" enables Sethe, the novel's protagonist, to reconstruct her past realities. The vividness that Sethe brings to every moment through recurring images characterizes her understanding of herself.... [tags: Toni Morrison Beloved Essays]
1241 words (3.5 pages)
- Analysis of Toni Morrison's Beloved Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning book Beloved, is a historical novel that serves as a memorial for those who died during the perils of slavery. The novel serves as a voice that speaks for the silenced reality of slavery for both men and women. Morrison in this novel gives a voice to those who were denied one, in particular African American women. It is a novel that rediscovers the African American experience. The novel undermines the conventional idea of a story’s time scheme.... [tags: Beloved Toni Morrison Literature Essays]
4384 words (12.5 pages)
- Toni Morrison's Beloved: Not a Story to be Passed On Beloved, Toni Morrison's Nobel Prize winning novel, is a masterfully written book in which the characters must deal with a past that perpetually haunts them. This haunting, in the form of a twenty year old ghost named Beloved, not only stalks them in the spirit, but also in the flesh. Beloved, both in story and in character hides the truth in simple ways and convinces those involved that the past never leaves, it only becomes part of who they are. This contortion of truth does not allow any character to escape. Each one hides and runs from the brutality of slavery, yet cannot escape it's heritage. Set in the post-Civil War era of th... [tags: Toni Morrison Beloved Essays]
5443 words (15.6 pages)
- "The future was sunset; the past something to leave behind. And if it didn't stay behind, well, you might have to stomp it out. Slave life; freed life-every day was a test and a trial. Nothing could be counted on in a world where even when you were a solution you were a problem"1 The past is something that, without clinical illness, is impossible to forget. No matter how horrific or emotionally damaging, it cannot be changed. What we chose to do with this memory of the past will shape our future.... [tags: Toni Morrison Beloved Essays]
2275 words (6.5 pages)
- The Bold but Unsuccessful Beloved Toni Morrison's fifth novel, Beloved, a vividly unconventional family saga, is set in Ohio in the mid 1880s. By that time slavery had been shattered by the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation and the succeeding constitutional amendments, though daily reality for the freed slaves continued to be a matter of perpetual struggle, not only with segregation and its attendant insults, but the curse of memory. Morrison's heroine, Sethe, is literally haunted - by the baby daughter she killed in a gesture of terrible mercy, when threatened with recapture after her escape.... [tags: Toni Morrison Beloved Essays]
736 words (2.1 pages)
- Freedom and Independence in Beloved Toni Morrison’s important novel Beloved is a forceful picture of the black American experience. By exploring the impact slavery had on the community, Beloved evolves around issues of race, gender, and the supernatural. By revealing the story of slavery and its components, Morrison declares the importance of independence as best depicted by Sixo. The combination of an individual amongst a community sets forth the central theme of moving from slavery to freedom and reconnecting with family and community.... [tags: Toni Morrison Beloved Essays]
1508 words (4.3 pages)
- Use of Flashbacks in Toni Morrison’s Novel, Beloved Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved swims like a garden pond full of minnows with thoughts and memories of days gone by. Each memory is like a drop of water, and when one person brings up enough drops, a trickle of a stream is formed. The trickles make their way down the shallow slopes and inclines, pushing leaves, twigs, and other barriers out of the way, leaving small bits of themselves behind so their paths can be traced again. There is a point, a vertex, a lair, where many peoples streams unite in a valley, in the heart of a pebble lined brook, and it is here that their trickles of days gone by fuse with each other, and float hand in hand u... [tags: Toni Morrison Beloved]
827 words (2.4 pages)
- Most of literature written by American minority authors is pedagogic, not toward the dominant culture, but for the minority cultures of which they are members. These authors realize that the dominant culture has misrepresented minority history, and it is the minority writers' burden to undertake the challenge of setting the record straight to strengthen and heal their own cultures. Unfortunately, many minorities are ambivalent because they vacillate between assimilation (thereby losing their separateness and cultural uniqueness) and segregation from the dominant culture.... [tags: Toni Morrison Essays 2014]
5000 words (14.3 pages)