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Toni Morrison’s Beloved Pdf Questions and Answers 10/15

Toni Morrison’s Beloved Pdf Download Questions and Answers

Q. 1. Toni Morrison’s Beloved has been acclaimed as a saga of black courage and suffering taboidie.

 

 Ans. African-American autñor Toni Morrison’s book,  Beloved, describes a black culture born out of a dehumanising period of slavery just after the Civil War. Culture is a means of how a group collectively believe, act, and interact on a daily basis. Those who have studied her work refer to Morrison’s narrative tales as “literature… that addresses the sacred and as an allegorical representation of black experience”. Although African Americans had a difficult time establishing their own culture during the period of slavery when they were considered less than human, Morrison believes that black culture has been built on the horrors of the past and it is this history that has shaped contemporary black culture in a positive way. Through the use of linguistic devices, her representation of black women, imagery and symbolic features, and the theme of interracial relations, Morrison illustrates that black culture that is resilient, vibrant, independent, and determined.

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Published in 1987, Beloved is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that recounts how those who survived slavery healed themselves and reflects on the period of slavery in “a manner in which it can be digested, in a manner in which the memory is not destructive”. It is this rememory as Morrison calls it that helps those considered “others” become individuals. Set in Ohio, the book focuses on Sethe; Sethe’s surviving daughter, Denver; Sethe’s mother-in-law, Baby Suggs; and the ghost of Sethe’s dead daughter, Beloved. Throughout the book, “Morrison communicates an unforgettable sense of the strength, terror and devastation that is part of the black community, whilst skilfully portraying the unalterable connections between spiritual and physical life”.

 

 One linguistic device used throughout the novel is the use of songs. Slaves use songs as a way to pass down stories but also to help them maintain a sense of inner strength. Morrison “shows how song defines and affirms slave “personhood” in a world where slave humanity is constantly challenged and denied”. Rather than thinking of song in a negative fashion, “it chronicles her characters’ endurance and ability to survive during and after these periods of physical brutality and psychological abuse” that they experienced during slavery This illustrates how black culture has resilience and an ability to overcome hardship. Singing is an essential aspect of the characters’ lives alongside food, sleep, and shelter. As the novel related, if Paul D could “walk, eat, sleep, (and) sing,” he could survive and “asked for no more”. While others may not understand the jargon used in the songs, those singing it and other slaves hearing those songs know what it means, and this is a way to strike some independence and distinct culture for themselves during a period where it is uncommon to think of blacks as even human. This community of song enables those within black culture to become stronger. It is “the collective sharing of that information heals the individual and the collective”. In revisiting Morrison’s overall theme of turning traumatic memories into a positive force, the songs are a cathartic process used to take this memory, which is “vital for revisioning communal and social transformation that is healing”. It is the singing of the women that help exorcise the ghost of Beloved and enable Sethe to break free as if she has been baptized. The novel describes Sethe as “running into the faces of the people out there, joining them and leaving Beloved behind”.

 

In addition to songs as a linguistic device, Morrison constantly returns to the word, “rememory” and “disremember” rather than using words, such as “remember” or “forget.” Morrison uses rememory to show how Sethe constantly keeps the past in her present existence because she cannot forget what happened and lives with the ghost of her guilty conscience and moral dilemma for murdering her daughter and living through slavery. For example, Sethe explains how she struggles with the past:

 

It’s so hard for me to believe in [time]. Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. … But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place the picture of it-stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world”.

 

Morrison’s to continually deal with its past as though it is a metal neck chain that they cannot unlock. Throughout the book, it seems as though this struggle with rememory is constant for Sethe rather than looking forward to a more opportunistic future: “But [Sethe’s] brain was not interested in the future. Loaded with the past and hungry for more, it left her no room to imagine, let creation of her own terms related to how the black culture has alone plan for, the next day”. The other characters in the novel attempt to help Sethe loosen the binds of the past. One of the women in town wants to help Sethe exorcise the ghost of Beloved because she “didn’t like the idea of past errors taking possession of the present” because “the past was something to leave behind”.

 

As part of the black culture, black women represent the pillars of strength within that community as protectors and healers. They are the glue that holds everything together when the world is falling apart around them. Many of the characters have been torn from their families because of the slave traders splitting up families and selling them as slaves to various white masters. Together, they share a history of suffering and an urge to heal and become whole people again. In isolation, black women formed bonds to survive and empower each other to withstand the atrocities of slavery. There is also a sense of the sisterhood still found in African American culture today as the women in the community band together to exercise the ghost of Beloved from Sethe’s house. It is this camaraderie that helps Sethe heal as an individual and strengthens the black community. In contrast, Paul D and Beloved clash because Beloved sees this male presence as a threat as does her sister, Denver. Both Beloved and Denver want their mother to themselves, furthering the idea that black women stick together while black men are seen as untrustworthy. Paul D does not like Beloved either because he feels isolated from the bond that the women share. However, he lets Beloved seduce him, thereby proving to Sethe and Denver that men cannot be trusted.

 

In terms of imagery, the ghost of Beloved represents the idea that both Sethe and black culture are haunted by a horrible past but being able to live with that spectre in a positive way instead of dreading and fearing their slavery past. As one character states: “Anything dead coming back to life hurts”. Beloved also is what is known in African American literatures as the “trickster.” According to one writer, “the trickster, whose fluidity and rule breaking define and maintain culture, embodies a central paradox in Morrison’s work: that of balancing the urge to maintain and foster cultural tradition and the equally powerful urge to rebel”. Beloved, as a trickster, is playing with Sethe by stirring up the past rather than continuing to repress it. In some ways, Sethe is still enslaved because she cannot remove the shackles of what happened in the past, including her decision to murder her daughter. Beloved works her magic by getting Sethe to re-examine how the past should be dealt with in the present.

 

Beloved’s presence is like a re-birth for Sethe to acknowledge the past while moving forward a stronger, wiser woman for what happened to her and the rest of the black community. The ghost of Beloved really becomes an outward representation of the inward retrospective Sethe is taking of her life so far. While other characters the novel experience a situation of an alternative self that helps them recover from the past, it is only Sethe that goes through the process under the most extreme conditions. 

 

 

In positioning the black culture as part of society as a whole, Morrison also explores interracial relations in the novel. During and after slavery, relations between black and white cultures are “harsh”. The relationship between the two cultures is based on the idea of exclusion and lack of tolerance for others. All the black characters have suffered horrific experiences at the hands of white people. Sethe had been raped while Paul D was imprisoned and Stamp Paid lost his wife. Sethe kills her own daughter, Beloved, because she does not want her to have to be treated to the harshness of life that whites have brought on black people. Between the whites and blacks, it is a relationship of take until there was nothing left of the black person:

 

That anybody white could take your whole self for anything that came to mind. Not just work, kill or maim you, but dirty you. Dirty you so bad you couldn’t like yourself anymore. Dirty you so bad you forgot who you were and couldn’t think it up. … The best thing (Sethe) was, was her children. Whites might dirty her all right, but not her best thing.

 

For Sethe, it is easier to lose her daughter to death than it is for her to see Beloved suffer in this world. It did not seem right to live in a world where they were nameless and faceless to white society. Morrison describes this state as being “dismembered and unaccounted for”.

 

In writing about the black culture rising from the ashes of a horrific period in history, Morrison makes the point that individuality and community are what bind African Americans together. In an interview about her novel, she said: “The book was not about the institution Slavery with a capital S. It was about these anonymous people called slaves. What they do to keep on, how they make a life, what they’re willing to risk, however long it lasts, in order to relate to one another”. While Morrison shows that black people are the same as white people because they are all human beings, the black culture has struggled with an identity and a purpose after white people had taken that away during slavery. Beloved is about an awakening to the ability to be individuals again and feel empowered after shaking the ghost of a dehumanizing history. Each character man and woman within the black community of Beloved go through a process of denial and then self-awareness. A sense of community and sisterhood along with the tight bonds of family that cannot be broken even by physical distance are what help Sethe and the black culture overcome the trauma and sorrow of the past.

 

Q. 2. Write a note on Toni Morrison’s narrative technique and the structure of Beloved.

 

Ans. In narrating the story of Beloved, Toni Morrison portrays the devastating effect of slave trade in contemporary narrative form through direct references and subtle allusions. She draws on the coded discourse of oral history and slave narratives as she fashions writerly texts, drawing in her readers as participants in the construction of cultural memory. She constructs the bilderverbot tradition, an injunction against depiction of sacred or supposedly unrepresentable subject matter. Morrison writes not only against traditional subject matter restriction but also against the conventional limit of her respective media’s language by using words and images despite living in a whitedominated society. Her critiques identify formation while in bondage by cycling through an obsessive litany of sound and image fragments. Many researchers have scrutinized the interaction of history, memory and fiction, melancholy and trauma, women’s loss and female subjectivity in their works but none has dealt with the canonical text of Beloved, deemed as a touchstone of African American literature. This article is concerned with Morrison’s approach articulated in words and images in order to dismantle and reveal the verbal signification which portrays the Atlantic slave trade from Black perspective. The interface between American literature as an institution and that of celebrated artist as a social activist reveals the problem of defining and promoting transnational Black literature. In this regard, she avoids reductive debates on ethnicity and identity politics by characterizing and thus giving voice to the traditionally silenced Africans on their way to America.

 

Toni Morrison’s subject in Beloved is that of separation, loss, and renewal afforded by memory. She draws on documents of the Atlantic slave trade and slave narrative, grounding her stylized fiction in historical fact. She carries the legacy on Black Arts Movement started in early 1970s with her groundbreaking novel and more recent works demonstrating an ongoing commitment to bring Black experience into the mainstream American literature. She selects and combines details with rhetorical emphasis which signify, in a realist mode, with a traditional reverence for history as a verifiable fact. As a matter of fact, she tends to invoke and dismantle simple binaries such as victim/victimizer, mother/daughter, black/white by stream of consciousness episodes which signify in a subversive non-standard way. By the use of dialectic tensions based on these dichotoniies and deconstructing them, she increases the possibilities of rhetorical style of language.

 

Morrison represents the theme of separation of family members from each other and from their African homeland through the device of the ghost story in the Beloved. This is the first time that she puts into words the experiences of a slave mother who expresses: “I would rather see my children killed than have them given up to the slaveholder’s power; death is better than slavery”. The bitter experiences she goes through include: childbirth, nursing, the desires of preverbal infant and the sufferings of Africans who died on slave ships. She uses subject matters which were normally excluded from western cultural narratives.

 

Through the narration of the ghost of an infant, Beloved, who has been killed by her mother to save her from slavery, Morrison articulates a new mode of expression against the traditional subject matter restriction and conventional limits of media and language. Beloved, the dead infant, returns in the body of a nineteenyear-old who is able to express infantile feelings otherwise unarticulated in normal life: “Her desire to regain the maternal closeness of a nursing baby powers a dialogue that fuses pronoun positions and abolishes  punctuation, undoing all the marks of separation that usually stabilize language”.

 

Morrison’s slave narrative shows a collective identity of Beloved as an African American who died on the Middle Passage of Atlantic slave trade. Regarding the narration of the story, Wyatt (1993) describes the conditions on the slave ships “in fragmented images without connective syntax or punctuation, capturing the loss of demarcation and differentiation of those caught in an “oceanic” space between cultural identities, between Africa and an unknown destination”.

 

Morrison selects and combines verbal signification with emphasis on coherence to show the Atlantic slave trade form black perspective. The rhetorical images signify realistic mode regarding traditional reverence for historical fact. She tends to invoke and dismantle simple binaries as victim/victimizer, mother/ daughter and black/white. Sethe, Beloved’s mother, insists on her physical presence and a firm relationship to her children. She is willing to accept the separation and substitution of her child to avoid the further suffering from slavery. Here, she will not apply any kind of signifiers to represent her nursing baby so as to tell the secret of her infant’s murder. According to Rose (1982) “the novel’s discourse tends to resist the substitution of the very law of metaphoric operation” (38). By creating dialectic tension, Morrison deconstructs the dichotomy to increase rhetorical possibilities in language.

 

Morrison fashions a new representation of slave narrative that once was neglected in the history of black slavery which has now become the central concern of American literature. The strategy of her narrative rhetorically implicates the involvement of readers who may take stand against the issues she poses. She depicts the power of discourse in destroying AfricanAmerican slaves’ sense of selfhood. The major characters of the novel are born into slavery and experience “the imposed objectivity of its commodifying ideology”. Hence, power is maintained not only through physical violence, but also by recourse to other “instruments of subjugation particularly language and discourse” . In exposing slavery’s machinations, Morrison pays particular attention to “ethnographic and historical scholarship”.

 

According to Raynaud, the whole process of making history with the tools of master (reading/writing) is reflected in the character of the schoolteacher who represents scientific racism. Sethe makes the ink with which the schoolteacher and his nephew define on paper her “animal characteristics;” the ink, a tool for communication produced by her hands, is turned against her. Irritated, she asks Mrs. Garner for the definition of “characteristics” and “features,” vainly to exert control over the very words that have defined her body in a notebook. The terror Sethe feels in seeing herself defined and divided: human characteristics on the left, animal ones on the right (193) is reflected in her statement that the Whites can “dirty you so bad you forgot who you were”. She murders Beloved not to let anyone on this earth to “list her daughter’s characteristics on the animal side of paper” .

 

 

Morrison’s aim of narrating the story of Sethe’s infanticide is to disclose “the multiplicity of truth, all of which merit legitimation”. The role of community in Sethe’s killing her daughter is not negligible. However, identity is formed in the context of community in this novel. According to Anzaldua the border culture is emerged by “the life-blood of two worlds meaning to form a third …. a border culture. The community Sethe lives in is similar to “borderland”. The blacks live in a borderland between their own culture and the white slaveholders’ culture. The free black community in this story “has no fixed, institutionalized, organized, moral and social codes of behavior and thought. Its vulnerable existence is compounded by unrelenting white hatred and disrespect. The white community has internalized social and moral codes and does not provide any support to Sethe. Such codes remind us of inherited codes of past slavery which finds its manifestation in Sethe’s killing of her child. She rationalizes and justifies her act by telling “that anybody white could take your whole self for anything that came to mind. Not just work, kill, or maim you, but dirty you. Dirty you so bad you couldn’t like yourself anymore”.

 

Morrison’s great contribution to the fabric of American literature is a rendition of history of slavery nearly lost to the consciousness of people of the world. She attempts to give voice to those who died in the Middle Passage which in Fuston White’s term were “so easily erased from the cultural text” (465). She shatters the accepted social custom of silence surrounding the Atlantic slave trade lifting up hypothesis of human repression under colonizers by giving an instance of a game of language and logic such as the beating of Sixo by the schoolteacher and highlighting that no more “the definition belongs to the definers-not the defined”.

 

Q. 3. Comment on the themes tackled by Toni Morrison in Beloved.

 

Ans. Beloved by Noble laureate Toni Morrison contains many themes regarding the conditions of black slaves before the civil war and after it. The most striking themes and imagery of the novel are dehumanizing of slaves, the way of naming, the motherly figure, community and family, the affliction of the past, water and eating and hunger.

 

Dehumanizing of Slaves:

Degrading of the nonwhite slaves is one prime theme of the novel Beloved. The slaves have a dependency upon their owners for all their existence. Their existence is not more appreciable than the existence of some farm animals. When Paul D runs away from his owner, he stole food from the pigs and fought with owls for the sake of food. He is not aware that he is a human being. Because of the animal like treatment of the white master, he thinks himself an animal. He meets one mindless black woman who thinks that the ducks were her children. Sethe, the central character of the novel, feels herself as a milking whose śwollen breasts were sucked by the nephews of the schoolteacher. The schoolteacher describes that the slaves were his animal property under his care. He especially takes Sethe as a creature that the God has given to him for the maintenance. When Sethe kills her daughter in the woods, the nephews beat her and the excessive beating is referred to as the beating similar to the horse or dog. The word ‘Horse is mainly used to describe the slaves. Sethe’s youngest daughter is callial ‘foul by Amy Denver, a white lady who helped Sethe in the delivery of her youngest daughter. The nonwhite slaves were taken merely as the machine to reproduce other breeds in free of cost to the white masters. Once, Baby Suggs tells Denver that the slaves are not supposed to have pleasurable feeling rather they have to bear as many children as they can do to please their owners. All these instances in the novel prove that the inhuman treatment of the whites has caused the loss of selfidentity of the nonwhite slaves.

 

The Process of Naming:

Naming oneself is a depiction of self-love and it is one’s solo freedom. If a name is imposed, it vividly shows that there are some domination and oppression. Whites are illustrated as having the power to define the slaves in any way they like, the nonwhites are always defined according to the moods of masters, according to the situation, and according to the behaviors that they show to the existing situation. In the novel, Paul’s half-brothers are named after the English alphabet only like, Paul D, Paul A, and Paul F, whereas one rooster is named as ‘Mister’. Paul D feels that he has lost his identity and even his manhood when he is denied to use guns by his master. Garner and schoolteacher think that the slaves, they own can be made, tamed, called and even changed as these slaves are their own property and possessions. Baby Suggs is called by the bill of her sale: Whitlow, the surname of her former owner. If the white master does any inhuman treatment to the slaves then, their treatment is justified in saying that the slaves are like their children or animals who need guidance and training.

 

The Mother Figure:

This is another important theme in the novel. The African take mother as a replica of the marvelous creation of the earth. But, ironically, the African slave women rarely get the chance to be treated as mother. When Sethe was a child, she was suckled by another woman. She did not get the opportunity to sleep on the lap of her mother. Her mother was identified by the hat and the mark that her mother had on the ribs. Baby Suggs gave birth to eight children, though from different fathers, but she could not exercise her any of mother rights. Sethe too has to bear the same fate. She wants to feed her own baby her breast milk but is prevented from it, and moreover, her milk is suckled by the nephews of the schoolteacher. Many slave mothers have to breastfeed to the white kids, keeping away their own kids in starvation and away from their fundamental rights. Because of the prevailing system of slavery and sexual assault, she has to kill her daughter to prevent her from slavery. This is her act of protection and safety. The physical, sexual and mental domination of the slave mother deteriorates the motherly love.

 

The Affliction of the Past:

The mental and emotional wound takes a long time to be healed compared to the physical scars. Throughout the novel, it is depicted that most of the characters suffer from the painful past and they try hard to recover from it. They attempt to forget bitter part of the past and want to cherish only some bits of sweet memories. Beloved is Sethe’s past which haunts her now, and she cannot deny her past. She had killed her daughter as an act of protection and now Sethe has to justify her dreadful deed to her ghost daughter. Even if she wants to keep herself away from the bitter past, her past appears in front of her. It is her past crime because of which she is boycotted from the society, she is fired from the job, and she has to afford herself in the service of the ghost child. Her past trauma comes to the surface. She feels that she can get rid of the past responsibility of a mother by feeding her ghost child, Beloved. In the novel, the past has a central role, excavating the turbulent slavery in America. Sethe’s inability of avoiding the past indicates the powerful impression of the past in the lives of the slaves. At the end of the novel, her painful past, Beloved is forgotten which symbolically stands for the end of the torturous past and the beginning of the hopeful future.

 

Water:

The image of water is found throughout the novel. The river Ohio is the boundary line between herself and her freedom. She has to cross the water to gain her freedom. She drinks water from the river, stating strongly that she does not want to die on the wrong side of the Ohio River. When she arrives at Baby Suggs, she washes Sethe indicating cleaning and purifying her from her past. At the end of the novel too, Paul D asks her to wash suggesting her the possibility of the birth of a new life ahead. The ghost character Beloved comes from the water and after reaching at Sethe’s home, she drinks four glasses of water. With the appearance of Beloved, Sethe’s bladder swells and she literally feels a delivery. These images of water are very powerful in the novel, suggesting some crucial moments in the novel.

 

Sexuality and Power:

Sexuality is another theme that runs through the novel. The sexual relations generally indicate the mutual love of the partners, but in the case of slavery, especially in case of black slave women, it is related to power and domination. Sethe and Halle have their first sex in the corn and they begin the relationship of husband and wife. When Paul D comes to Sethe they sleep together and this is their love. But Beloved does not like the relationship between Paul D and Sethe. She strongly seduces Paul D which he cannot deny. But the sexual harassment of the slave women by the white masters is a matter of condemnation. Sethe’s mother was used as a sex toy by many white men, Stamp Paid’s wife was enforced to be wife of her master. Some women are forced to be used both by father and son. Sethe was also used by the schoolteacher and his two nephews. The white men have absolute power over the slave women and capable of using them in any way they like.

 

Q. 4. Comment on the various motifs and symbols in Beloved.

 

Ans. Motifs:

Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the texts’ major themes. The two motifs employe by Toni Morrison in Beloved are: (i) The Supernatural, and (ii) Allusions of Christianity.

 

 

(i) The Supernatural :

 

Morrison enancecd the world of Beloved by investing it with a supernatural dimension. While it is possible to interpret the book’s paranormal phenomenon within a realist framework, many events in the novel-most notably, the presence of a ghost-push the limits of ordinary understanding. Moreover, the characters in Beloved do not hesitate to believe in the supernatural status of these events. For them poltergeists, premonitions, and hallucinations are ways of understanding the significance of the world around them. Such occurances stand in marked contrast to schoolteacher’s perverse hyper”scientific” and empirical studies.

 

(ii) Allusion to Christianity

 

Beloved’s epigraph, takenfrom Roamans 9:25, bespeaks the presence that Christian ideas will have in the novel. The “four horsemen” who come for Sethe reference the description of the Apocalyse found in the Book of Revelations. Beloved is reborn into Apocalypse found in the Book of Revelations. Beloved is reborn into Sethe’s world drenched in a sort of baptismal water. As an infant Denver drinks her sister’s blood along with her mother’s breast milk, which can be interpreted as an act of communion that links Denver and Beloved and that highlights the sacrificial aspect of the the baby’s death. Sethe’s act so, horrifies schoolteacher that he leaves without taking her other children, allowing them to live in freedom. The baby’s sacrificial death, like that of Christ, brings salvation. The book’s larger discussions of sin, sacrifice,, redemption, forgiveness, love and resurrection similarly resound with biblical references.

 

Symbols

 

Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colours, used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. The symbols used in Beloved are: (i) The Color Box; (ii) Trees; and (iii) The Tin Tobacco Box.

(i) The Color Red :

Colors from the red part of the spectrum (including orange and pink) recur throughout Beloved, although the meaning of these red objects varies. Amy Denver’s red velvet, for example, is an image of hope and a brighter future, while Paul D’s “red heart” represents feeling and emotion. Overall, red seems to connote vitality and the visceral nature of human existence. Yet, in Beloved, vitality often goes hand in hand with mortality, and red images simultaneously refer to life and death, to presence and absence. For example, the red roses that line the road to the carnival serve to herald the carnival’s arrival in town and announce the beginning of Sethe, Denver, and Paul D’s new life together; yet they also stink of death. The red rooster signifies manhood to Paul D, but it is a manhood that Paul D himself has been denied. The story of Amy’s search for carmine velvet seems especially poignant because we sense the futility of her dream. Sethe’s memory is awash with the red of her daughter’s blood and the pink mineral of her gravestone, both of which have been bought at a dear price.

 

ii) The Trees :

 

In the world of Beloved, trees serve primarily as sources of healing, comfort, and life. Denver’s “emerald closet” of boxwood bushes functions as a place of solitude and repose for her. The beautiful trees of Sweet Home mask the true horror of the plantation in Sethe’s memory. Paul D finds his freedom by following flowering trees to the North, and Sethe finds hers by escaping through a forest. By imagining the scars on Sethe’s back as a “chokecherry tree,” Amy Denver sublimates a site of trauma and brutality into one of beauty and growth. But as the sites of lynchings and of Sixo’s death by burning, however, trees reveal a connection with a darker side of humanity as well.

(iii) The Tin Tobacco Box :

 

Paul D describes his heart as a “tin tobacco box.” After his traumatizing experiences at Sweet Home and, especially, at the prison camp in Alfred, Georgia, he locks away his feelings and memories in this “box,” which has, by the time Paul D arrives at 124, “rusted” over completely. By alienating himself from his emotions, Paul D hopes to preserve himself from further psychological damage. In order to secure this protection, however, Paul D sacrifices much of his humanity by foregoing feeling and gives up much of his selfhood by repressing his memories. Although Paul D is convinced that nothing can pry the lid of his box open, his strange, dreamlike sexual encounter with Beloved-perhaps a symbol of an encounter with his past-causes the box to burst and his heart once again to glow red.

 

Q. 5. Examine Toni Morrison’s treatment of supernatural in her novel Beloved.

 

Ans. The novel, Beloved depicts supernatural elements like ghosts. There seems to be a presence of an invisible being inside the house. This ghost seems to the baby’s ghost whom Sethe had earlier murdered. It appears to be breaking and shaking the things in the house. Another ghost in the human disguise is Beloved. Beloved seems to be the reincarnate of Sethe’s dead child. As Sethe encounters her, outside her house, the reader comes across her childlike behavior. Her walk is unsteady and strangely she remembers the song that Sethe had sung to her when she was a child. Her skin is fresh and she has no control over her bodily functions.

 

Almost all the main characters such as Baby Suggs, Sethe, Denver and Paul D believe in the presence of the ghost when Sethe suggests that they move from the present residence. Baby Suggs asserts:

 

What’d the Point?” asked Baby Suggs. “Not a house in the country ain’t pack to its refer with some dead Negro’s grief. We lucky this ghost is a baby. My husband’s spirit was to come back here? Or yours?

 

It’s clear that superstitions are embedded in the specific nature. According to Baby Suggs death is a normal thing for the black people. Majority of the black people and their relatives were killed during that time.

 

The first place depicted to be haunted by ghost in the novel is 124, Bluestone Road. Sethe’s two sons Howard and Buglar cannot stand the terror caused by the ghost, so they flee.

 Morrison has depicted a scene in which two tiny handprints appear on a cake but with an absence of a child. Further all the things in the house move by themselves. It is apparent from the text that the ghost wants to punish her. The ghost doesn’t want to be forgotten by anyone, so it reappears.

 

Further in the novel the name Sweet Home is contrasted with its situation. One would confuse the place Sweet Home as a joyful and a happy place but the place is haunted in a way as it is full of horror and scary acts. After the death of Mr. Garner, Mrs. Garner had employed Schoolteacher who abuses the slave and treats them like animals.

 

As Sethe is raped by the Schoolteacher’s nephews; she becomes preoccupied with the incident. She puts forth her children’s needs before her own. Morrison has expressed the abnormality of a human being in her novel. It is mentioned in the novel, “All in their twenties, minus women, fucking cows, dreaming of rape, thrashing on pallets, rubbing their things and waiting for the new girl.” (13) Schoolteacher’s arrival at Sweet Home is another horrendous act. Sethe resists the Schoolteacher’s authority by murdering her own offspring.

 

The character of Beloved has been taken under interpretation by many critics. Ashraf H.A Rushdy in Beloved: A Casebook describes her character from a psychological angle, “more than just a character in the novel, though. She is the embodiment of the past that must be remembered to be forgotten; she symbolizes what must be reincarnated in order to be buried.” She is also looked at from the religious point of view and parallels to Jesus Christ are also found. Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind and was resurrected. Critics always saw Beloved as the incarnation of the murdered daughter of Sethe. Beloved first appearance in the novel is when Paul D arrives at 124, Bluestone Road and exorcises the baby ghost: “With a table and a loud male voice he had rid 124 of its claim to local fame.” She appears again a few days later, “A fully dressed woman walked out of the water.” This implies something strange and unnatural about her. She has no recollection of her past life and only thing she can recall is standing on a bridge which is treated as a metaphor as the transition between life and death. Birth is associated with the water and the sight of Beloved’s face for the first time reminds Sethe of her giving birth: “Sethe’s bladder filled to the capacity.” Though it was not easy for Sethe to recognize Beloved as her lost daughter, the reader is clear with the idea of birth. Sethe is the similar age as the slaughtered daughter would have been who calls herself Beloved. Paul D notices that she articulates the letters of the name vigilantly as people, “who *cannot] read but have to memorize the letters of their name.” This however indicates that she might have just read the name on the tombstone though never heard the name,

 

Denver suspects about Beloved existence from the beginning. A scar on her Beloved’s throat convinces her when she helps her undress. It brings to one’s mind the Jesus disciple Thomas who suspected his lord’s identity after resurrection, not until he saw the marks of the nails on his hands.

 

 

Q. 6. Discuss black feminism in the novel, Beloved.

 

Ans. Toni Morrison’s Beloved is divided into three parts. During the” second part ofthe text, the reader will encounter an oddly written group” offour chapters. These chapters are inconsistent with the text as a” whole,containing poetic language,unassembled text which breaks“ grammar and type setting rules, and a surge of voice from the three” female characters, Sethe, Denver,and Beloved. The latter characteristic” is why these four chapters have been called the “trio section.”

 

The trio section has been discussed, although not in great depth,“ in various ways. Satya P. Mohanty uses an historical approach to the trio” section’s chapters, where Sethe’s, Denver’s, and Beloved’s voices“ represent a cultural image of braiding,or story telling:

 

“[The]fusing“ voices and emotions[make]possible the new knowledge we seek about“ our postcolonial condition”(61). The women’s voices discover for the“ reader the “dead and unremembered ofthe Middle Passage”(63). Instead” of braiding,” Linda Anderson, also using an historical approach,speaks“ ofthe trio section as being a “lyrical monologue” where Sethe and Denver” desire to possess Beloved. The women’s ties have been broken by“ slavery,and the trio section’s chapters “collapse boundaries between past and present’in an effort to rejoin the women. Besides the“ historical, there are interesting community themes in the trio section; the“ four chapters for Dana Heller representfragmentation,”dismantling]the” boundaries that separate family from community, private from public“ concerns” and for Karla Halloway take on moremythical attributes, “the women’s voices producing”prosopeic(re)memory” in text where the“ voices collapse into one another and then merge again,revising time and“ space(518). At a literaiy level, critics usually acknowledge some type of“ atypical community existing in the trio section.

 

Black feminism may also be the cornerstone ofthe trio section, but the trio section is not necessarily the cornerstone of black feminism: it “does not directly reflect black feminist values. Earlier I wrote that many“ critics in their historical, mythical,or rhetorical interpretations of ” Beloved pay little attention to the trio section and usually concentrate On“ the fragmentation ofits chapters. Feminist critics pay the same limited “attention to the trio section as other critics, often writing only a few “sentences or paragraphs as a side note to their larger interpretation of “ Beloved. Perhaps the trio section is easier not to include: where others” see fragmentation, feminist critics see Sethe, Denver,and Beloved’s “voices as possessive,creating a glitch in their feminist theory. 1/

 

Within the trio section, where this fluidity is at its peak,sometņing more “extreme and dangerous happens than mere fluidity of boundaries,” because the”borders collapse between self and others”(202). Schapiro’s“ “cállapsing borders” also point to the possessive features ofthe chapters,“ another example of how the trio section is not the cornerstone of black“ feminism. Schapiro and Ferguson make it seern as ifthe trio section is“ no place for a black feminist critic but instead is a deconstructionists’ haven: the chapters certainly seem to be a seam in the bla:ck feminism of the text as a whole.

 

 

Q. 7. Discuss the character Beloved in the novel, Beloved.

 

Ans. The character of Beloved has been taken under interpretation by many critics. Ashraf H.A Rushdy in Beloved: A Casebook describes her character from a psychological angle, “more than just a character in the novel, though. She is the embodiment of the past that must be remembered to be forgotten; she symbolizes what must be reincarnated in order to be buried.”(41) She is also looked at from the religious point of view and parallels to Jesus Christ are also found. Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind and was resurrected. Critics always saw Beloved as the incarnation of the murdered daughter of Sethe. Beloved first appearance in the novel is when Paul D arrives at 124, Bluestone Road and exorcises the baby ghost: “With a table and a loud male voice he had rid 124 of its claim to local fame.” (45) She appears again a few days later, “A fully dressed woman walked out of the water.” (60) This implies something strange and unnatural about her. She has no recollection of her past life and only thing she can recall is standing on a bridge which is treated as a metaphor as the transition between life and death. Birth is associated with the water and the sight of Beloved’s face for the first time reminds Sethe of her giving birth: “Sethe’s bladder filled to the capacity.” (61) Though it was not easy for Sethe to recognize Beloved as her lost daughter, the reader is clear with the idea of birth. Sethe is the similar age as the slaughtered daughter would have been who calls herself Beloved. Paul D notices that she articulates the letters of the name vigilantly as people, “who *cannot] read but have to memorize the letters of their name.” (62) This however indicates that she might have just read the name on the tombstone though never heard the name.

 

Denver suspects about Beloved existence from the beginning. A scar on her Beloved’s throat convinces her when she helps her undress. It brings to one’s mind the Jesus disciple Thomas who suspected his lord’s identity after resurrection, not until he saw the marks of the nails on his hands.

 

According to Stephanie A. Demetrakopoulos, “Sethe’s guilt has recreated Beloved.”(56) It is stated by Rushdy in the introduction of this chapter that, “* Beloved+ is the embodiment of the past that must be remembered to be forgotten.” (41) Sigmund Freud believes that one has to remember and recreate ones past to overcome traumas. He believes that, “Sethe must ‘conjure up’ her past-symbolized by Beloved- and confront it as an antagonist. Sethe must learn to regard her problematic past as an “enemy worthy of (her) mettle, a piece of [her] personality, which was solid ground for its existence and out of which things of value for [her] future life have to be derived.”(92) Beloved’s presence accomplishes all these necessities and the relation between her and Sethe can be portrayed as a psychoanalytic process that directed to catharsis and facilitates Sethe to develop into a functioning individual. The religious metaphors are presented to characterize the development and the absolution described in religious terms can be seen as catharsis.

 

Sethe is loaded with guilt and if Beloved’s incarnation is present to pardon Sethe and mitigate her from blame, it must be considered in what way this can be done. According to Christian beliefs, forgiveness is the best way to relieve oneself from the guilt and the blame. Jesus is known to have died for our sins; on the cross he spoke these words; “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”(Luke 23:24) One must come clean with his sins and be penitent; not until then you can be pardoned from your sins. Sethe seems to have lost her faith in God in the beginning as stated earlier. She has born her guilt for a long time. She has absolved of her crime as she has served time in the prison. So in the eyes of law she is forgiven. The ghost of the baby seems to have punished her and incessantly reminded of her crime. Sethe continually exists with her memories and “feels bad” (8), whereas it is not clear that she actually feels sorry and confesses her guilt. When Sethe elucidates about her behavior to Paul D, she says, “it’s my job to know what is and to keep them away from what I know is terrible. I did that.” (194) When Sethe concludes that Beloved is her baby daughter; she gives out a sigh of relief: “*Sethet even looked straight at the shed *where the daughter was killed], smiling, smiling at the things she would not have to remember now. Thinking, she ain’t even mad with me. Not a bit.” (214) Sethe understands is that she has been excused, and the

 

Q. 8. Discuss Beloved as a specimen of post-colonial literature.

 

Ans. In Morrison’s novel, the discourse of the colonizer insists on the binary opposition between what signifies the culture and the nature. It reactualizes the old Hegelian dialectic according to which the superiority of the master is confirmed by the animal nature of the slave, while the bestiality of the slave is a condition to recognize the civilization of the other. Several key figures in the novel Beloved are an embodiment of this distribution of qualities that actually rationalizes the violence or leads to the idea that the civilization can be formed only by suppressing the animality (in this case typical for the slave). The violence experienced by the slaves at Sweet home comes from the figure of the Schoolteacher, presented as incarnation of the reason, the culture, the education, the hygiene, the restlessness. The Schoolteacher monitors each of the slaves’ actions and as a result of his observations, he sustains his classes where the basic task is to make a list of characteristics and afterwards to divide the slaves’ qualities in two columns: on one side their human traits and on the other the animal traits of the slave. “(Schoolteacher liked) how she mixed (the ink) and it was important to him because at night he sat down to write in his book. It was a book about (the slaves) … He commenced to carry round a notebook and write down what we said” (1:37]. To narrate the personal story with an own truth means to begin the revelation of the process of designation. When a strict differentiation between the human and the animals is being a basis on which the white man’s law can be sustained, the creative speech typical for the free individual should be free from the pattern of binary oppositions. Therefore, the memory for Morrison has the task to put into question the valorisations of all canonically accepted oppositions: nature-civilization, conscious- unconscious, man-woman, black – white, human – animal, body – spirit, Due to this definition of the slaves through animalisation, the memory in the novel has not only positive connotation to revoke the past, and many of the characters choose not to remember or to repress the emotions of their experiences. The memories of every character are filled with traumas that prevent the formation of their personal stories. There are numerous scenes in the novel that leave painful memory. Just one of these memories is the iron jaw that wears Paul D imitating a horse, his seven-month presence in the dark prison with hundreds of slaves strung in chains. For Paul D, the repressed memory is the most certain way to erase what the slave is unable to confront. The evocation of the slaves who became victims of insanity after the tortures makes the whole image of the slavery. The black and white women who were raped (like Amy, Sethe’s mother, Vashti) opens one more scenery of violation during the slavery as well. The memory becomes a torture for its protagonists, so in one of the internal monologues of Sethe, we read: “Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not. Places, places are still there”.

 

In the same way as the bodies and the labour of other slaves were determined by a prize, also Sethe’s body is subject to designation by the Schoolteacher. As punishment for trying to escape, Sethe will carry the scares acquired from her flagellation on her beck. The fact that the law is presented as an inscription on the body indicates that the force can hit even those areas of life not included in the system of symbolization: the human biology. Hence, the law becomes a measure that decides on the basic expressions of life; it has the exclusivity to decide on the issues of life and death. This stigmatization signifies that the slave woman’s identity cannot be lived and constructed by herself, but must go through the process of identification by the Schoolteacher.

 

On one side the figure of the master is able to translate all into pure discourse, while on the other side is all that the slave can live through, but not being able to name it.

 

The analysis of Hannah Arendt (5] suggests that one of the most serious violence that can be hosted on man is the explanation of his actions by his racial background. Here the parallel between the black slavery and the Jewish question could be stressed. Considering the case of the Judaism the author notes the willingness of the legal system to pardon certain criminal acts committed by Jews. The justification is that the propensity to such an act is characteristic of the race, so nothing can be done against such a determination. Indeed, this kind of forgiveness is the biggest threat to this breed. Because, if for the individual crime there is a punishment existing, the evil associated with the race leads to a certain justification of the race’s extermination. Thus, the privilege turns into a curse. The identification of the evil with the animalism, the body or the race presumes that what demolishes the foundations of civilization is not a trait of individuals, but a predisposition of one specific race, indeed. 

 

 

Q. 9. Comment on the unresolved identity of Beloved in the novel Beloved.

 

 Ans. As the significance of the tree is interpreted by the characters in accordance with their personal experience, Beloved will indicate something different to each of these characters. The novel is based on a true event from 1856 when Margaret Garner, a black slave woman, kills her children in order to protect them from bondage. Morrison takes this story, but changes it significantly, focusing on Sethe’s fragmented past and on her obsession with the committed crime, that keeps her in a persisting balance between culpability and psychosis. This psychosis is materialized in the anxiety that rules the house, and later will be presented by the incarnation of the ghost of the dead child: the girl who suddenly appears in the house. In fact, Bluestone Road, Cincinnati, leaves to Sethe a house “full of children’s anger”, broken mirrors, overthrown plates. Thus the house becomes a chronotope in which Sethe’s psychological hypertrophy is personified, while the heaviness of the memory that pursues her obtains a real form. When at the end of the novel Paul D talks to Stamp Paid about the strange young woman who settled in Sethe’s house, he says: “She reminds me of something. Of something I know, but I have forgotten”. Those are exactly the same words that Freud uses to describe the feeling of uncanny. The German word unheimlich, contains the term heim, which means home. The negation of the word in unheimlich describes the lack of feeling that someone stays on his own territory. The homelessness becomes the interior condition of the person who recognizes something inexplicable and strange, although close and experienced. The house number 124 in which strange events happen function as a metaphor for the state of Sethe’s spirit, in the same way as the tree symbolized the connection of her personal story with the history of her race. The way in which the violence is presented makes Sethe unable to form images of the past, as well as images of the future. Her criticism is focused on the figure of power that discharges the subject from his contain.

 

Beloved arrives to impose the confrontation with the past, which can no longer be ignored thanks to her. Although the first period of stay of Beloved is ideal and makes a compensation for the child’s murder, few weeks later begins the repetition of the domination typical for the colonial situation.

 

At the end of the novel, Sethe becomes a slave of the needs and demands of Beloved. The oppression gains a new form, because Sethe does not confront her past, but defines the actual situation as a debt to her past. The energy that Sethe invest in the nourishing of her daughter is a compensation for the taken subjectivity of the girl. Sethe tries not to repeat the violence she made by killing her daughter as a kind of a colonizer, but taking the role of the colonized subject once again.

 

Beloved represents actually the liberation of the desire that has been denied to slaves, but also a call to control this energy in the new society based on sharing. The text can be seen as a representation of what Freud calls the return of the repressed [6], or repeating of the prime scene of trauma, because the novel is centred on the character of Beloved as a ghost of Sethe’s dead child. The possibility to create a discourse for someone’s past or for his experienced trauma, signifies for Freud a way for the individual to get rid of it.

 

– Here the re-evaluation of the body that can be read as a contrast to the spirit and the culture in their cruel version also begins. In fact, the vital force of Paul D was reduced, as the bodies of so many black people were transformed in a physic force used for exploitation, but not as subject of pleasure. That is why Beloved does not represent a concrete person from the past, but she is a mirror in which each one of the characters can projectxhers or his suppressed ideas. The desire is the basic dimension that Paul D mentions about the boys at Sweet home, and also about Beloved. The story of the past for Sethe, the recovery from the loneliness of her other daughter Denver – are the conditions that Beloved makes possible. But soon, the accomplishment of the desire becomes destructive for each one of the characters Paul D must run away, Sethe becomes a victim of Beloved who accumulates her demands and keeps Sethe in continual culpability. –

 

In fact, Beloved heals all the scars that the slaves suffer from, but this condition does not last for long. Because the black community must become capable of controlling the desires of Beloved in order not to turn into their victim, reaffirming the animalistic image that was built in the eyes of the master. There is the possibility to create a symbolic speech that will help the individual to make a distance from the things that happened, and to repossess its own future against the terrorizing images from the past. Right here the memory takes part as a narration that relies on the confidence of the listener who does not condemn but can offer an understanding.

 

Q. 10. Comment on the impact of slavery on Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved.

 

Ans. A growing interest in African American studies and black writing, in general, emanated from the Civil Rights and Black Power monuments of the 1960s and the 1970s. Toni Morrison’s major pre-occupation in literature has always been to what Morrison’s narratives private lives that form the experience of a community. What Morrison’s narratives, in particular, try to convey is the idea that there is more than one type of knowledge, and that it is necessary to accept different modes is not based on the factual but on the aural and the visual. Thus, she has embarked upon showing how an African American author tackles the institution of slavery.

 

Slavery is a system of dehumanization. Its characteristics are ownership and possession, which involve both physical and psychological control. In ‘Escaping Slaver’ Harris points out that:

 

“Ownership refers to the practice of masters having legal rights to the bodies and labor of their slaves. Possession on the other hand refers to the psychological dimension of the relationship in which masters were able to convince some slaves in the institution of slavery”.

 

 

As Harris states about Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ in ‘Escaping Slavery’ that: “In ‘Beloved Morrison makes clear where ownership leaves off and possession begins in psychologically warping system called slavery”.

 

Toni Morrison grew up during the great depression of the 1930s, in a poor family who had a long history of migration. Both grandparents as well as her parents had migrated from the deep rural south to urban north, to escape from racism and find more opportunities and better education of their children. Her works deal with the African-American black experience and celebrate the AfricanAmerican black community. ‘Beloved’ is regarded by many as Morrison’s most successful novel dedicated “to sixty million or more”, who failed to survive the “Middle Passage”, sets out to give voice to “disremembered and unaccounted for suppressed women and children”.

 

‘Beloved’ is based on a real life story of the slave Margaret Garner .On Jan 28, 1856, Garner killed her two year old daughter and attempted to kill her other two children just because she didn’t want her children to be send to the plantation where they worked and ran from her master to Ohio in Kentucky. Black Literature in United States portrays the history of African-Americans. It gained momentum in the 19th century and most printed literature consisted of slaves narratives, which represented true stories of slaves escape to free states or countries. Carl E Henderson says about black literature.

 

“ Yet in many respects, these writers were limited in their efforts to fully depict the physical and psychological suffering of African-American people. Toni Morrison seeks to signify those silences imposed by publishers and editors of the 18th and 19th century”.

 

Morrison in ‘Beloved shows what it means to live as a slave and what destruction have been brought to the lives of slaves. In ‘Beloved’ she sheds light on the painful past of African-Americans and reveals the buried experiences for a better understanding of African-American history, that how slavery can destroy individuals identity, disintegrated family unit and bond and imbalance social system. As Dr Jeanna Fuston White says: 

 

Beloved represents a working out of subjectivity through the representation of history; a history so brutal and dehumanizing that it is unrepresentable, a depiction of community, which is often torn apart by the circumstances of slavery and a construction of identity”. 

 

Morrison believes that African-American history is distorted and romanticized. Spargo cites Morrison’s ideas about African-American history: “ We live in a land where the past is always erased and America is the innocent future in which immigrants can come and start over, where the state is clean. The past is absent or it is romanticized. This culture doesn’t encourage dwelling on, let alone coming to terms with, the truth about the past”.

 

In ‘Beloved Morrison deals with the individuals physical, emotional and spiritual destruction brought by slavery. A devastation that haunts those characters who were slaves even in freedom. So the worst effect of slavery is its negative impact on the former slaves sense of identity and loss of self which leads to self-alienation. Paul D for instance is so self-alienated that at a certain point he is unable to tell whether the screaming he hears is his own or someone else’s. As slaves were considered subhuman and were traded as commodities whose worth was expressed is dollars that is why Paul D is very insecure whether or not he could possibly be a real ‘man’ and he often wonders about his value as a person.

 

The protagonist of the novel Sethe, a black women and previously slave was orphaned by the death of her slaved parents. Wife of Halle and mother of four children and lover of Paul D – Sethe has to endure and suffer the most pain. Under slavery Sethe was treated as a subhuman when once she walked in on schoolteacher who was giving his pupils a lesson on her “animal characteristics”. She seemed to be alienated from herself and filled with self loathing. Being a slave Sethe was deprived even from a natural right as a living human being when she naively requested marriage service in church to honour her union with Halle.

 

As the result of schoolteacher’s cruel attitude the slaves on Sweet Home decided to run away. Sethe is pregnant and she had sent her two year old daughter and two older sons ahead with some other slaves, when her husband Halle doesn’t arrive to meet them at the place where he decided to meet, Sethe decided to stay behind to look for Halle, but she was caught by the schoolteacher and his nephews, who held her down, raped her and sucked her milk, when Sethe was raped the schoolteacher observed how her body is exploited. Later, schoolteacher’s nephew discovers that Sethe told Mrs.Garner about this incident. He orders his nephews to whip her. The whipping of Sethe opens the skin of her back and she bears scars on her back that resemble the trunk of a tree with its branches because she was whipped due to her try of escape:

 

“Those boys came in there and took my milk, that’s what they came in there for. Held me down and took it…. schoolteacher made one open up my back, and when it closed it made a tree. It grows there still.”

 

This misuse of slaves by schoolteacher leads to the tragedy to Sethe and her family. According to Dr Jeanna Fuston White:

 

“For Sethe, the fetishization of her body by the White school teacher and his nephews causes psychic fragmentation that continue to thwart the development of her subjectivity even after she leaves slavery… Sethe’s personhood, as it has been allowed to exist under slavery, is reduced further to animality.”

 

When Sethe talks to Paul D, she mentions the scars on her back but she doesn’t talk about the pain she had to endure. In the novel we see that what mostly effected Sethe was not the pain and dehumanization she had to face and feel but for her the stolen milk was important because it was vital to feed her baby and she expressed her mental torture and deep agony as follows: “They used cowhide on me and they took my milk, they beat me and I was pregnant and they took my milk”

 

And also she said :

Nobody will ever get my milk no more except my own children. I never had to give it to nobody else – and the one time I did it was took from me – they held me down and took it Milk that belonged to my baby”. 11 –

 

 

This dehumanizing treatment of Sethe has physically and spiritually brought her to the brink of exhaustion and self destruction and : “Punched the glittering iron out of Sethe’s eyes, leaving two open wells that did not reflect firelight”.

 

Slavery has also affected the identity of other characters where Paul D developed self defeating coping strategies to protect him from the emotional pain he was forced to bear and endure. He had looked away his feelings in the rusted ‘tobacco tin’ of his heart, “saying more might push them both to a place they couldn’t get back from. He would keep the rest where it belonged: in that tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be. Its lid rusted shut”- he concluded that one should love nothing too intensely.

 

1 Sethe’s children have volatile and unstable identities. Denver conflates her identity with Beloved. Her two sons finding nothing stable in life escapes to unknown. Baby Suggs self conceptionin has been shattered and inability to believe in her own existence caused depression and death. Halle, being a victim of slavery, traumatized by his wife’s suffering, eventually lost his mind , as Paul D says:

 

“it broke him, Sethe…. You may as well know it. Last time I saw him he was sitting by the churn and had butter all over his face”.

 

Other characters like Jackson Till and Aunt Phyllis went insane and suffered a complete loss of self.

 

Morrison in ‘Beloved has aptly exposed the destruction of family life under the cruel impact of slavery. Where basic features of family ‘The Parents’ are no more entitled to hold close to their bosoms the second essential feature of family “The Children’. Where mothers are only breeders : breeding children fathered by different white and black men. The children who are snatched away from mothers and sold as product. There families are segregated and relations become a mockery.

 

In ‘Beloved Morrison further probes deeper into the psychological effects of missing mother infant bond and unearths the damage of slavery to the mother child relation and Morrison deliberately centers on the historical fact that there were black women during slavery who suffocated their babies rather than to be offered them up to destroyed by slavery. Therefore it is rightfully said that:

 

“slavery not only destroys the identity of individual but also disintegrate family unit and segregates the human relation”.

 

Q. 11. Critically comment on the portrayal of Sethe in Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved.

 

Ans. In sketching the character of Sethe, Toni Morrison has displayed a remarkable excellence. Sethe is one of the central characters of Morrison’s novel Beloved. She is a black woman and previous slave, who was orphaned by the death of her slave parents. She has bitter experience of brutal slavery. She is the wife of Halle, who has disappeared before the start of the novel. She is a mother of Buglar, Howard and Denver. 

 

 Morrison depicted Sethe as a mother whom death is far more emancipatory than the life chained in the bondages of Slavery. Sethe was uneducated. She did not have a reasonable way of dealing with an instantaneous problem because of her ignorance. When the schoolteacher came to 124 Bluestone searching for Sethe and her children, she became confused, frightened and illogical. She was utterly helpless. There was no aid for her. In a fit of frightened confusion, she killed Beloved hoping that her dead daughter would not have to undergo the psychologically torturous experiences of sexual assault and rape. She is hunted by the ghost of her daughter, Beloved. Sethe is a strong woman who lives under an oppressive cultural and social system that does not permit her to be nurtured or to nurture others reliably. Sethe was hurt severely. Sethe understands the horrors of slavery in its most intimate violations, the violations of family trust between mother and child. She also understands the violation of being treated as an animal and is determined that her own children will not endure the treatment she has received at the hands of white slaveholders. Since she believed that the next world would be a safer place than this one, she tried to kill all her children rather than seeing them grows up in slavery. Even though she believed she was acting reasonably and in good faith, she also knew that she had a right to take her baby’s life. As a result, she is haunted by guilt throughout the novel.

 

Morrison presented Sethe as an alienating character. She lost her husband where, how and why-she does not know. Frightened by the murder of Beloved by their mother, her two sons ran away from her. When the community at 124 Bluestone knew about the trial of Sethe on charge of murder, she was ostracized by her community. Therefore, she lived in isolation. In her small house across the 124 Bluestone Road she lived a life ravaged by alienation, corroded by ostracism, crushed by her repressed erstwhile suffering. By her mother’s inability to care for her because of the slave environment in which they lived; taken from her mother as an infant, she only saw her a few times in her life. As a result, she has pitifully few bits and pieces of memory of her mother. As an adult, Sethe understands that her mother was constrained by slavery and, therefore, literally unable to tend to her. As a child, however, she could not understand the lack of attention she received from her mother. She felt only abandonment and loss.

 

Sethe’s recovery involves her facing and dealing with the past. When she tries to leave it behind without confronting it, the apt comes back to her embodied and demanding in the form of Beloved. Even then, she tries to forget the past and make up for it, instead of grieving, accepting, and working through it. She tries to give up herself in order to give everything to the child she injured. In the end, she is able to accept herself and take a path towards wholeness.

 

 

Q. 12. Critically comment on the portrayal of Baby Suggs in Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved.

 

Ans. Describing a no-linear account of almost fve decades of Sethe’s life, Beloved begins in the year 1873 after the death of Baby Suggs, Sehte’s motherin-law and an ex-slave herself. But Baby Suggs is present throughout the novel. She celebrates Sethe’s reunion with her children. In portraying Baby Suggs, Morrison is interested in not only the surviving but in the “wholeness of entire people, amle and female.”

 

Halle, the last of her eight children from six different fathers, had bought her freedom after long years of hard work on weekends. She lived “sixty years and ten years free”. These were her last words when she died. But when she was freed, she reached the outskirts of Cincinnati and became a beacon light to the entire black community. At that time 124 had been “a cheerful buzzing house where Baby Suggs, holy, loved, cautioned, fed, chastised, and soothed”.

 

It is ennobling how through her own experience of slave life, Baby Suggs had attained a deep understanding of the travails of the blacks. Afte emancipation, she wanted to build a strong community of blacks because slave life had “busted her legs, back, head, eyes, hands, kidneys, womb and tongue and she and nothing left to make a living but her heart which she put to work at once.” She was the best loved and most sought after among her people.

 

Baby Suggs reinvented herself, her being, and inspired others to follow suit. Thus Baby Suggs attained the status of “becoming” from the state of being “Accepting no title of honour before her name, but allowing a small caress after it, she became an unchurched preacher, one who visited pulpits, and opened her great heart to those who could use it.” The maturing quality of mother/ancestor in Baby Suggs is symbolically portrayed and juxtaposed with that of Sethe, who kills her child because she does not want it to lead of life of slavery.

 

The lesson Baby Suggs learnt and taught all- men, women and childrenwas “love your heart”. The men were asked to dance before their wives and children; women were told to cry; and children were told to laugh, so that their mothers could hear them laugh.

 

Baby Suggs advocated loving their heart above all the other parts because “this is the prize.” Thus, her plea was replete with compassion for her brethren. Then she danced sunlit place cut deep in the wods nobody knew for what the end of a path known only to deer and whoever cleared the land in the first place.”

 

, Baby Suggs offered her ample consolation. She told Sethe to lay all misery , sorrow, and shock of losing her husband Halle aside. For nine years, Baby Suggs soothed her by passing fingers and the quiet instructive voice. Thus, a defence mechanism was developed between the two blackk women to stand by each other as white slave-catchers perpetually haunted them to catch the runaway slaves. .

 

The picture totally changed at 124 after nine years, when “Baby Suugs, holy, proved herself a lair, dismissed her great heart, and lay in the keeping room bed, roused once in a while by craving for color and not for another thing”. The long, coveted drean of a happy reuinion came to a halt. “Baby Suggs, holy, believed she had lied. There was no grace-imaginary or real.” The shock proved too deep for Baby Suggs, who believed “Those white things have taken all” she had or dreamed, and broke her “heartstrings too”. Her past had been “intolerable” like her present. She had eight children. “Everyone of them gone away from her. Four taken four chased.”

 

When Paul D learns of Baby Suggs’s death, Sethe tells hi she died “soft as cream”. For her being “alive was the hard part.” But before she died, Baby Suggs had experienced “the wonder of possessing her own bocły, of recognizing the founding of her own heart.” She renamed herself Suggs (her husband’s name), rejecting Garner’s defence of the legal name on her bill of sale, Jany Whitlow.

 

Q. 13. Critically comment on the portrayal of Amy Denver in Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved.

 

Ans. Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved is full of white characters who all own something-particularly, they own the black characters in one way or another. Mr. and Mrs. Garner own Sweet Home plantation and therefore, they own the slaves that work there. Schoolteacher owns the slaves of Sweet Home in that he uses his position as teacher in order to control how the slaves learn to think of one another. The only white character in the book who does not own a black character is Amy Denver, an indentured servant who breaks the stereotypes of race relations in the book. She challenges the norms of dominating, controlling white power and interacts with Sethe in a way that instead suggests mutual healing. Despite the insurmountable barrier race creates between Amy and Sethe, the two women bond through a shared sense of motherhood.

 

Amy and Sethe share many similar life experiences. As a white woman, yet also an indentured servant, Amy:is owned by another white person instead of owning herself. Sethe is a black woman running for her life in order to escape slavery, where she, too, was owned by a white person. When Denver describes Amy as having “fugitive eyes,” the word “fugitive” suggests that Amy is running from something and trying to escape some sort of imprisonment (92). Amy’s eyes must have mirrored Sethe’s, as Sethe is running to escape slavery when Amy finds her. Thus, there is clearly a sort of parallel between Amy and Sethe in their shared lack of ownership over themselves. And, although both women have different skin colors, they are similar in that they are both trying to escape the control of white people and take control of their own lives. Amy is determined to get to Boston in order to buy “carmine velvet”. She tells Sethe, “They don’t believe I’m a get it, but I am”. This shows that she is determined to prove that she has the power over her own self, that she can make her own decisions and achieve her own goals– essentially, she is attempting to prove that she is her own person. In a way, this is also what Sethe is trying to do. She is pregnant with her fourth child when she runs across Amy, and is also running from Sweet Home, spurred by a desire to own herself instead of allowing white people to own her and her children. Furthermore, when Sethe saw Amy, she said, “she needed beef and pot liquor like nobody in this world. Arms like cane stalks and enough hair for four or five heads. Slow-moving eyes. She didn’t look at anything quick. Talked so much it wasn’t clear how she could breathe at the same time. And those cane-stalk arms, as it turned out, were as strong as iron” (39). Amy is not a rich, well-fed white person. Based on her appearance, she is underfed and malnourished, and her poor condition is another parallel between her and Sethe. Sethe’s feet “were so swollen that she could not see her arch or feel her ankles…. Milk, sticky and sour on her dress, attracted every small flying thing from gnats to grasshoppers” (36). Her back has been slashed open in a whipping by schoolteacher, and the wound is raw and festering. Both have been neglected and mistreated by white people, even though one woman is black and the other is white. Yet, Amy clearly has some strength hidden within her, with arms “strong as iron,” just as Sethe demonstrates the same inner strength, pushing through uncomfortable conditions.

 

The bond between Amy and Sethe is made even more interesting by the fact that the two women are of differing skin colors, which is otherwise considered a large source of tension in the majority of the book. Sethe is aware that there is danger in trusting a white girl, because “you could get money if you turned a runaway over, and she wasn’t sure this girl Amy didn’t need money more than anything, especially since all she talked about was getting hold of some velvet”. Amy has reason to want money so desperately. She is determined to get to Boston and buy that carmine velvet; it is one of the first things she tells Sethe. As a white woman, she could easily use the power behind her race to turn Sethe in, which would have been the easiest way to get the velvet. But the fact that she does not, and that she even helps Sethe instead and essentially brings her and her baby back to life, is a strong testament to the difference between Amy and the stereotypical white American of that time. Even though there is an opportunity for Amy to exercise her inherent power over Sethe like every other white person previously mentioned in the novel has, she does not take that opportunity. Instead, Amy acts in more of a motherly manner towards Sethe. She shows Sethe compassion-she is a white woman massaging a black woman’s feet back to feeling, feeding her, tending to her raw back, delivering her baby. Essentially, Amy saves Sethe’s life, and not only that, but she also saves Denver’s life — this white woman saves the lives of two black girls in a time when racism and slavery is the general state of mind. And, the whole time, Amy talks to Sethe like a normal person, “about Boston and velvet and good things to eat”. Sethe claims that it is this voice that keeps her alive and “made her think that maybe she wasn’t, after all, just a crawling graveyard for a six-month baby’s last hours”. Amy’s voice gives Sethe hope instead of making her feel like she needs to escape, as schoolteacher’s did that day she found him in the barn teaching the Sweet Home men about her animal characteristics. Although race is still a very prominent division between the two women – Amy refers to Sethe in derogatory ways, calling her a “nigger woman” and claiming “she wouldn’t be caught dead in daylight on a busy river with a runaway” – Amy still sees herself in Sethe and wants to help her in her own journey. She reveals herself to be a white woman who offers hope for freedom instead of taking it away through control. That is where Amy truly breaks the stereotypes of white characters in the novel. 

 

Q. 14. Write a characte sketch of Denver Suggs, with emphasis on her  growth and evolution from a recluse to an independent individual.

 

Ans. Sethe’s daughter Denver is the most dynamic character in Beloved. Sethe had clasped Denver to her chest when she came to 124 Bluestone Road and was received warmly by her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs. Now about eighteen, with “far too womanly breast”, Denver claims to have sue allowed Beloved’s blood with her mother’s milk. She, too, claims Beloved, as her own. From her childhood, ever since Beloved’s death, Denver has come toaccept Beloved’s ghost as her ‘secret company’. She is thhe one who hears the sound of Beloved crawling upstairs.

 

Life for Sethe and Denver would have continued the same way, but for Paul D’s arrival at 124. It is he, one of the Sweet Home men, who chases the ghost away and breaks the bond between mother and daughter, the dead and the living. But te trauma cannot be chased away so easily and by such force. So Beloved returns, not merely as a sound “crawling up” but in flesh to challenge and interrogate the past and its relevance to the present. Denver, who cannot understand the fierceness of mother-love, whishes to secure Beloved as her own, safe from her mother’s hands. She suffers from an acute anxiety for her other and for Beloved.

 

Denver has to handle Beloved, her mother Sethe and the dream of a father who surely must have been an “Angel Man”, she reconstructs the image of her father out of the memories of her grandmother. She would invent all sorts of stories which have hindered her father’s return: “Something was holding him up. He had a problem with the horse. The river flooded, the boat sank, and he had to make a new one.” The solitude and quiet give ample space for Denver’s imagiantion to grow and engulf her. Beloved’s return allows for more expansion of her imagination for “that just made the cheese more binding; my sister to help me won’t for my daddy.” 

 

Initially Denver sets out defending Beloved to see if any harm can come to her from Sethe, but she ends up defending her mother from Beloved. She watches Sethe’s health deteriorate, overwhelmed by her guilt and her all-consuming love for Beloved, who becomes mean-spirited and exploits her pain. All the thirty-eight dollars of Sethe’s life-savings go in indulging Beloved with the best of food and clothes. “Anything she wanted she got, and when Sethe ran out of things to give her, Beloved invented desire.”

 

Starvation forces Devnver out of her mother’s porch. The first person she turns to for her help is Lady Jones, the school teacher. She requests Lady Jones to helo in seeking a job. lady Jones gives her some food and recommends her to the church committee formed to prevent people from starving. Every now and then women drop gifts of foods at her doorstep. In turn Denver goes to thank for their generosity. All of them knew her grandmother’ some had even danced with Baby Suggs in the Clearing. Denver now turns to the Bodwins for finding work. She tells the housekeeper Janey how Beloved’s presence plunges her mother. The news spreads in the black community that Sethe’s daughter, whose thraot she had cut with a handshaw, has come back to take revenge and, in fact, has threatened her life. After Beloved disappears from 124, she explodes right in front of the eyes of thirty black women who have to the spiritual assistance of Sethe and recue her from her ghost-child.

 

The Denver that Paul D meets on his return to 124 has now matured into a fine young woman fending for herself and her mother. He then encounters the disoriented Sethe and makes efforts to reclaim her.

 

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