Some people cannot remember anything for weeks, months, or even years. This condition is called amnesia, "the loss of memory as a result of brain injury or deterioration, shock, fatigue, senility, drug use, alcoholism, anesthesia, illness, or psychoneurotic reaction."1 Especially, when amnesia is a psychoneurotic reaction, it can cover even the patient's entire life. Toni Morrison, in an interview, said that not only an individual but also an entire nation could be diagnosed as (psychoneurotic) amnesia. Discussing Beloved, she explained what she calls a "national amnesia."
I thought this [Beloved] has got to be the least read of all the books I'd written because it is about something the characters don't want to remember, I don't want to remember, black people don't want to remember, white people don't want to remember.2
The memory of slavery that nobody wants to remember had to be written, and the unspoken stories had to be told and remembered. No matter how it hurts to "rememory" the past, Toni Morrison had to write about it, and she did. She had to give a voice to the "Sixty Million and more" slaves and names to those who had been buried nameless.3 She said, "It was an era I didn't want to get into - going back into and through grief," yet she had to, because America has been still haunted by the past of slavery and burdened by the weight of the memory. Through Beloved, Morrison brought up the repressed memory again and woke up America from a "national amnesia." In this essay, I shall discuss how Morrison evokes the haunting past of America in Beloved so that no one runs away from the past: first, by giving voices to the slaves, especially, Margaret Garner; second, by arousing a ...
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...itz, "Nameless Ghosts: Possession and Dispossession in Beloved," Studies in American Fiction, 17 (1989), 157. Although, from a vampire, succubus, to a pre-Oedipal child, various ways of seeing Beloved is possible, Horvitz's definition is more comprehensive. On the vampire, succubus theme, see Trudier Harris, Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991). The definition of a pre-Oedipal child gives a great deal of insight to see the relationship between women characters. See Jennifer Fitzgerald, "Selfhood and Community: Psychoanalysis and Discourse in Beloved," Modern Fiction Studies, 39 (1993), 669-87.
9 The unconscious is a controversial concept. I used this term in a more figurative way. It is like a huge storage, in which we throw away everything that we do not want to remember or accept.
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