A Critical Analysis
Beloved is a novel written by the Author, Toni Morrison, in 1987. It was published around the same time. The novel has been a success because it has been one of the best-selling in America. It has also drawn attention because it has featured on mainstream media such as the New York Times and Oprah Winfrey’s Show. Additionally, the author artistically and realistically presents a number of rather disturbing life issues. They are, but not limited to, African slavery in America, freedom, identity destruction, masculinity, and the concept of home. Though disturbing, readers can really relate to since they still affect our society today. Clearly, realistic representation in Toni Morrison’s Beloved is something readers look for. The book has good readership and more people should read this book.
Ideas in the Novel
This is not only the most dominant ideas in the novel, but also one of the most memorable aspects of American History. It reflects upon how the African Americans were severely mistreated and robbed of their human identity by their counterparts, the white Americans. But, despite the tough times, the African Americans were very hopeful – some, like Paul D in the novel, went to an extent of eloping from the plantations, others, like Sethe, going further to kill their young ones so they never fall prey to slavery. Halle is another slavery victim who also tries to rescue his mother from slavery. Dehumanization in the novel is symbolized by cattle and how they are generally treated.
This is directly connected to the theme of slavery. In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, African American slaves such as Paul D. and Sethe experience dehumanizing slavery in the white men’s plantations. But, they get hopeful that someday they will be independent and live a normal human life. So they decide to escape to achieve their dreams. Halle tries to free his mother from the pangs of slavery. After escaping, Paul D and Sethe meet at 124 Bluestone road and together, they continue enjoying freedom.
Toni Morrison’s Beloved represents the idea of home as a place to host a family unit. This is also directly related to slavery because of the way Africans were separated from their homes. After an episode of slavery at the plantations, Sethe and Paul run away to start their own home in Cincinnati. At some point, Paul runs away from his home and goes back when he feels like.
Losing identity means changing very important aspects of personality such as beliefs, values, and behavior. According to Toni Morrison’s novel, slavery does not just mean physically treating African Americans like animals. It also extends to systems and institutions that came up later including naming of individuals. As African Americans, Paul D, Baby Suggs, Sethe, and Halle, have their names reflecting the loss of their identities. The fact that black people helplessly suffered in the hands of other people only backs up the idea of identity loss.
The history of the novel
Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved, is about a black woman, Margaret Garner, who escaped from the pangs of slavery in Kentucky in early 1856. She was headed to Ohio, which was a free state. The main theme of the novel is slavery and involves two main characters, Sethe, and Paul D. The history of this novel is very important because it reflects on the history of the entire American black community. This is a history that is still fresh on their minds. Beloved is a piece of American Literature that brings together both Historical fiction and horror. It is also one of the novels that have successfully presented criticism in an uncensored manner and still remained to be one of the best- selling. Up to date, the novel still attracts a lot of readership and continues to do well.
The problems of the Novel
The main problem presented in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, is not being able to comfortably and openly tell her story. This could be explained by the use of symbolism in the novel. Toni Morrison reflects upon the trouble that black people had while trying to trace their identity and origin and deal with their problems. Therefore, she tries to take people back to those dark days of slavery for better understanding. Therefore, narration especially on such traumatizing ordeals can be as hard for any other author.
Plot of the novel
Sethe runs away to start life at 124 Bluestone Ohio as a cook. While here, she lives with her daughter, Denver, and Baby Suggs, her mother-in-law. Baby Suggs dies leaving Sethe and Denver behind. Inspired by her past experiences, Sethe had murdered Beloved, her daughter of 2 years, to save her from slavery. The baby’s ghost still haunts the house. But, Sethe has sort of made peace with it. Paul D arrives at 124 Bluestone and moves in with Sethe and they start an independent life together. They are so in love that Denver, who is now big enough, gets jealous. After some time, the haunting by baby Beloved’s ends. But, a woman by the name Beloved arrives at their home in 124. This startles everyone, especially Sethe, since she had murdered her daughter, who also went by the name Beloved. Both Paul and Sethe are left with no choice but to allow Beloved to stay.
This news spreads like bush fire. Her stay is characterized by financial times so hard the neighbors join hands to offer help. Denver gets a job. One way when going to work, Sethe mistakes her boss for her slave master. She gets mad and attacks him. She is stopped by Denver and other women, leading to Beloved running away forever. Sethe gets mentally ill. Paul D comes back and Sethe gets better. Denver focuses on getting a college education. From then on, the quality of life of black people at 124 gets better.
Description of Main Characters
Noble – loves the fact that she is black.
Loving – Opinions are different, but it was out of love that Sethe saved her child from the cruelty that comes with slavery.
Morally upright – She did not like the idea of murder as protection from slavery.
Self-driven – she is focused on having a better life for her family and herself. She gets a good job and works towards going to college.
Understanding – she doesn’t blame her mother for killing Beloved.
This refers to the baby, the ghost, and the woman.
Baby-like – Ribbons and bright clothes excite the woman just as much as a baby would be.
Loving – he falls in love with Sethe and they live together.
In a nutshell, the impact of Toni Morrison’s Beloved cannot be understated. It is worth reading for a better understanding of our society today.