Style Analysis of Beloved
In the 500 word passage reprinted below, from the fictional novel Beloved, Toni Morrison explains the pent-up anger and aggression of a man who is forced to keep a steady stance when in the presence of his white masters. She uses simple language to convey her message, yet it is forcefully projected. The tone is plaintively matter-of-fact; there is no dodging the issue or obscure allusions. Because of this, her work has an intensity unparalleled by more complex writing.
OUT OF SIGHT of Mister’s sight, away, praise His name, from the smiling boss of roosters, Paul D began to tremble. Not all at once and not so anyone could tell. When he turned his head, aiming for a last look at Brother, turned it as much as the rope that connected to the axle of a buckboard allowed, and, later on, when they fastened the iron around his ankles and clamped the wrists as well, there was no outward sign of trembling at all. Nor eighteen days after that when he saw the ditches; the one thousand feet of earth—five feet deep, five feet wide, into which wooden boxes had been fitted. A door of bars that you could lift on hinges like a cage opened into three walls and a roof of scrap lumber and red dirt. Two feet of it over his head; three feet of open trench in front of him with anything that crawled or scurried welcome to share that grave calling itself quarters. And there were forty-five more. He was sent there after trying to kill Brandywine, the man schoolteacher sold him to. Brandywine was leading him, in a coffle with ten others, through Kentucky into Virginia. He didn’t know exactly what prompted him to try—other th...
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...choolteacher sold him to.” Morrison was calmly narrating Paul D’s ability to maintain physical steadiness, when she casually throws in a reference to a murder attempt. The suddenness of that sentence causes a mental double-take in the reader, since it seemed to come out of nowhere. This carries a forcefulness that cannot be attained through verbosity.
Toni Morrison does not use any words she doesn’t need to. She narrates the story plainly and simply, with just a touch of bleak sadness. Her language has an uncommon power because of this; her matter-of-factness makes her story seem more real. The shocking unexpectedness of the one-sentence anecdotes she includes makes the reader think about what she says. With this unusual style, Morrison’s novel has an enthralling intensity that is found in few other places
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