Sethe In Toni Morrison's Beloved

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How much power should a mother possess? In Toni Morrison’s speculative fiction novel, Beloved, she introduces the character and protagonist, Sethe, a black woman that, because of her rough past, makes questionable decisions as a mother which coincides with the type of motherhood exposed to her as a child. Sethe may be a slave in the 1800’s, but she suffers even more because she is a woman and at this time women received very poor treatment. In addition, Sethe is, in fact, a slave who evades the idea of having her children submit to slavery and perishes the thought of them growing up in that lifestyle. Sethe may have killed her child, but the treatment she received explains her actions because she suffered from traumatic experiences. Sethe’s …show more content…
While talking to Paul D, Sethe says “Schoolteacher made one open up my back, and when it closed it made a tree.” When they find out that she told on the boys who stole her milk, they beat Sethe with a cowhide whip. The scars on her back resemble a tree which could symbolize her life as a slave. Moreover, Sethe felt dehumanized as a slave because they treated her like an animal while living at Sweet Home and even more so when they stole her own milk from her. When Sethe is explaining why she killed one of her children to Paul D, she says “I took and put my babies where they’d be safe.” With the fear of what slavery holds in mind, she says she put her children where they would be safe and to her she thought they would be safer if they were dead. In short, Sethe realizes how white people see black people. Deprived of almost anything of value, slaves endured treatment that of what an animal would. This includes family, whereas white people do not consider them people with feelings. Consequently, this shows that Sethe considers what it would be like for her children to go into slavery because she uses her authority as a mother to decide what would be best for them which, unfortunately, makes death the best option to

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