The Horrors Of Slavery In Toni Morrison's Beloved

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In Beloved, Morrison, unlike her slave narrative author predecessors (i.e. Frederick Douglass or Harriet Beecher Stowe) focuses her novel on the idea of reconciling with the past. This is to say, that she does not focus so much on traditional slave narrative ideas like the abolition of slavery itself, instead she focuses on the amelioration of wounds that have certainly risen from the horrors of slavery. A neo-slave narrative is a contemporary fictional work set in the time of slavery that is concerned with shedding light on the effects of enslavement. This is exactly what Beloved attempts to explore. Sethe struggled with the consequences of being a black female in an unfavourable time, and struggled to learn that in denying who she is would …show more content…
Having gone through the horrors of slavery Sethe is certainly scarred from her experiences at Sweet Home. Sethe brings up the idea that, “Freeing yourself is one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another” (Morrison, 111-112). Escaping Sweet Home was one thing, but for Sethe, claiming herself or owning herself was quite difficult. This is certainly an effect that slavery had, not just on Sethe, but on any freed slave. How do you come to own yourself when all of your life you have been someone else’s property? In many ways, Morrison attempts to shed light on effects such as this one. The struggle for self-identity is very apparent in Beloved. In section 12 of the novel, Sethe “is crying because she had no self” (Morrison, 145). The path to self-identity is a long one for someone who has spent their life as property. Vint has discussed, “Sethe[‘s] …struggle to jettison the negative experience of slavery” (Vint, 242). A good part of this struggle is with accepting herself and coming to terms with her identity. By, “Denying their…selves only allows the wounding of slavery to continue” (Vint, 242). Morrison looks to explore this idea by showing the struggle with …show more content…
Garner escaped from slavery and just as she was about to be recaptured (due to the Fugitive Slave Law), she killed her baby in order to protect the child from a life of slavehood. By connecting the real life story of Margaret Garner she is solidifying the horrors and effects that came from the late 19th century. Margaret becomes Sethe, and her baby turned into Beloved. As said, Sethe killed her Beloved to protect her from a life of servitude, but she does a similar thing to her other daughter Denver. With Denver, Sethe was, “keeping her from the past” (Morrison, 51). This is Margaret writing the story of someone who did not get to express themselves. As many slaves or previous slave had not had the chance to write their story, Morrison sheds light on some of the tragic effects that slavery had had and still has. Bell makes the comment that Morrison was, “guided by the spirits of many thousands gone” (bell, 9). Sethe explains this horrific act of infanticide as “thick” love (Morrison, 194). This to show the level the realities that slaves went through. In this case, Morrison and Garner make decisions for their characters and for themselves whether death is better than a life of slavery. A real life question many pondered. For Sethe, it is easy to make the case that she was just trying to “out-hurt the hurter” (Morrison,

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