Religion In Toni Morrison's Beloved

Good Essays
The character of Beloved is a multi-faceted construction that stands as the motif for the threat and presence of death; not merely of herself but of others. It could be proclaimed that Beloved is in fact manifested in three different forms – the living, the dead and the resurrected – and in this way the novel asserts a comparative to religion by immediately establishing a possibility of redemption, even for those who seems irredeemable.
The murder of Sethe’s child is requisite to our understanding that Beloved may be deemed the physical reincarnation of her dead daughter. This is emphasised by Morrison’s description of her skin, “soft and new” like a child’s, her startling youth, wide “black eyes”, limited speech and unexplained knowingness
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Morrison focuses unequivocally on the theme of slavery and black suffering throughout many of her works, and “Beloved” is no different as she dedicates the novel to the “Sixty million and more” that died as a result of the trade. Multiple references are made from which we can infer that Beloved is the physical manifestation of slavery, notably when she remarks “there will never be a time when I am not crouching”. This statement serves as an allusion to the way in which Africans were transported to America on crowded ships, whereby they would have to crouch impedingly for comfort, but primarily out of fear. The imagery also visually represents the hierarchy that allowed the slave trade to be carried out, by immediately diminishing coloured lives to a matter of being underneath, below, trodden on, small and unimportant. In Chapter 4 of Part 2, Beloved recounts from a first-person perspective a disjointed stream-of-consciousness that speaks almost entirely in poetic riddle. Within this short passage, a number of observations are made to denote that Beloved is not alone, but rather entangled in a gathering of “men without skin”, constantly making use of the pronouns “we” and “them”, thereby asserting some idea of collectivism and separation as being confusingly entwined. This further enforces the view that Beloved represents the loss of an entire …show more content…
The second sentence of the novel immediately introduces a ghostly element to the novel, describing how [house] 124 was “full of a baby’s venom”. The juxtaposing choice of language snaps bitterly and causes immediate discomfort within the reader, who does not expect a baby – the quintessence of innocence and purity - to be responsible for such tyranny. The ghost is also described as being endowed with a “lively spite”, another oxymoron which builds on Morrison’s aim to evoke the unexpected. It is clear that the ghost has the power to haunt and terrify, an example being when “two tiny handprints appeared in the cake”, yet at the same time a power struggle is introduced between the living and the dead, the past and the future, the good and the evil: perhaps what all conflict eventually narrows down to. On the surface, it appears that Beloved pursues to drive away anything good, most notable from the disappearance of Sethe’s twin sons Howard and Buglar, however the vengefulness and defiance expressed by the baby ghost may be consequential of its misunderstanding of Sethe’s intentions, as she herself remarks: “[she] wasn’t even two years old... too little to understand”. But the novel is far more than a ghost story, hence Denver’s frustration in response to Paul D belittlingly remarking that “it’d be hard for a young girl living in a haunted

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