Summary Of Domestication In Toni Morrison's Beloved

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In Beloved, Toni Morrison creates a profound comparison between a pathetic rooster, Mister, and a slave, Paul D Garner. The traditional roles between chicken and human are reversed as Paul D envies Mister’s freedom. Initially, this paradox suggests that slaves are worse off than humans, but upon a closer look, it is really a comparison of a naturally domestic animal and an animal that needs to be domesticated. While chickens have evolved to exhibit less aggressive and more domestic behaviors, Paul D suffers the process of domestication. As punishment for running away, schoolteacher forces Paul D to wear an iron bit in his mouth, a situation unnatural to all humans, and sells him to an equally cruel man, Brandywine. While the bit strips Paul …show more content…
Chickens’ undomesticated behavior has been bred out of the species over thousands of years. In comparison to their wild ancestors, roosters are less aggressive, less active, and less likely to look for foreign food sources. Mister can act according to his instincts and still be a domesticated chicken; his only purpose on the farm is to fertilize the hens’ eggs. Mister is free to be what he is — a rooster. Years later, Paul D recounts to Sethe that the worst part of his experience was Mister’s sinister smile. In his most vivid comparison, Paul D conjectures, “Even if you cooked him you’d still be cooking a rooster named Mister. But wasn’t no way I’d ever be Paul D again, living or dead” (86). Schoolteacher dismantles Paul D’s dignity because Paul D cannot fulfill his purpose on the farm as a human. Paul D loses his sense of self by divorcing his identity as “Paul D.” Ironically, Paul D’s name is not his own to begin with; he is named, along with brothers, “Paul” after his slave master, denoted in alphabetical order. “D” is the only differentiation among the brothers. A name is a fundamental part of human identity, so the effect of the “D” strips Paul D of his identity before he has a chance to make …show more content…
Mister’s mother leaves him behind, because he was not strong enough to get out of his shell. Paul D recounts, “There was one egg left. Looked like a blank, but then I saw it move so I tapped it open and here come Mister, bad feet and all. I watched that son a bitch grow up and whup everything in the yard” (85). Mister’s crooked feet prevent him from walking straight, and he has an evil nature. Schoolteacher has not punished Mister for his deformity. In fact, Mister is the king of the chickens. Schoolteacher treats Mister, not even a fully functioning rooster, better than Paul D. Paul D saw Mister as, “Stronger. Tougher” (86). The fact that Paul D can look at a deformed chicken with envy reveals the raw extent to which Paul D’s dignity as a human diminishes. This strength is not literal but psychological. Paul D’s psychological strength is nonexistent, and Mister is powerful, even in his deformed shape. As Paul D recollects to Sethe, he does not see himself as a human after the bit. Decades later, Paul D still feels the same way; he has never been able to regain his psychological

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