Summary Of Slavery In Beloved By Toni Morrison

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Toni Morrison is a twentieth century, African American novelist who illustrates the history of African Americans dating back to the nineteenth century. Morrison recreates the history, language, knowledge, reason, as well as identity to include the African American experience of slavery. She narrates the novel Beloved through her characters in a way that evokes a strong emotion from the reader. Through Beloved, Morrison does the opposite of “hegemonic whitewashing”, she describes the different features of the brutality of slavery ( 'From the Seen to the Told ': the construction of subjectivity in Toni Morrison 's, 2002). A few critics question if Morrison amplifies the cruelties of slavery. Through analyzing historical documents one can see …show more content…
Morrison reveals the horrors of slavery through her characters. Through Paul D, the readers learn about the living arrangements slaves had to endure. Paul D is sent to prison in Georgia for threatening his owner and attempting to run away from him. The prison he was sent to was underground. Paul D and the forty five other men lived in tightly packed boxes where they were “hand-forged [chained]” together (Morrison 126). The treatment of the forty six men, regardless of the fact that they were criminals, shows how African Americans were viewed as animals. They were held captive like cattle, chained to each other. Gottesman and Brown describe the slaves’ living state as “harsh and poorly maintained”, this can be seen in Beloved. In addition, the prisoners would be forced to give oral sex to the guards. If a slave refused then he would receive a “gunshot in [his] head” (Morrison 127). The only choice slaves had was to either to comply with orders or die. It was the sole thing they could control under slavery; whether they would want to live or die. In all, historical documents prove that slaves were maltreated as illustrated in …show more content…
Women more than men were typically molested and raped (Women in America, 1999). For instance, Sethe was sexually molested by schoolteacher’s nephews while pregnant. The boys stole her milk by sucking on her breast. This act also demonstrates how slavery animalized African Americans, they sucked on her breast as if she was a cow. This scene in Beloved depicts how inferior African Americans were seen. Not to mention, enslaved women were encouraged to have “frequent pregnancies” and any children conceived in this manner inherited their mother’s slavery” (Women in America, 1999). Baby Suggs explains this concept to Denver, telling her that women were forced to have a number of kids “to please whoever owned them” (Morrison 247). Slaves had no sense of self or individuality. Their duties were to pleasure their owners and confine to their

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