The Importance Of Memory In Toni Morrison's Beloved

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Beloved is a novel that focuses on the importance of memory as a way of dealing with pain. Sethe throughout the novel struggles to find peace in herself, mainly because the memories of her daughter’s death and her slave years at Sweet Home are too painful to recall deliberately. In order to cope with grief and suffering, people need to go through 3 different stages which includes denial, bargaining and finally to come to terms with various feelings and acceptance.
The first stage when copying with grief and suffering is denial. In this stage, the world becomes absurd and we ask ourselves how we can possibly move forward, if we can move forward, and why we should continue. People that go through this stage, usually become insensible. By
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This stage is characterized by intense feeling of remorse and culpability. The book clearly depicts Sethe’s desire to forget that she had killer her own daughter, which is a mother’s worst crime. In page 155, Paul decides that in order to prove his manhood he wants to have a baby with Sethe. Sethe thought quickly of how good the sex would be if he really wanted, but the idea of having another baby terrified her. She further mentions “Unless carefree, motherlove was a killer.”(155) This line shows Sethe intense feeling of remorse and culpability. “Needing to be good enough, alert enough, strong enough, that caring- again.” (154) Sethe consistent thoughts of what could have been done to prevent the loss of her baby prevents her from moving forward. She has already lost three children and does not want to have another one, just to be taken away from her. Because of this, Sethe convinces herself that beloved must be just another girl that escaped from some sort of slavery, rejecting her own motherly instincts. Another clear example of how Sethe deals with issues of guilt is depicted in chapter 19. Although Sethe does not believe that she needs to explain Beloved why she killed her baby, she continues nonetheless to justify every action she takes to herself. Even though she blames killing her own baby on the oppression of slavery, she blames the murder on herself. Furthermore in page 236, Sethe mentions “By my love was tough and she is back now. I’ll explain to her, even though I don’t have to. Why I did it. How if I hadn’t killed her she would have died and that is something I could not bear to happen to her.” This paragraph suggest how Sethe is dealing with intense remorse and how even though she constantly restated the idea of not needing to explain why she committed the crime, she is constantly finding ways of explaining her actions.

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