Over Coming the Past [Toni Morrison Beloved] Essay

Dwelling on events that occurred in the past can affect what will happen in one’s present and future. A person must confront the past in order to heal the wounds it has caused in order to move forward in life. Members of the Black Community are haunted by the traumatic experiences and events of slavery and racism. Throughout the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison, Sethe work hard to avoid the past because it is filled with pain and horror for them.

Morrison’s use of multiple flashbacks, nightmares, psychological, structural, and thematic logic that support the novel flow from the events that occurred when Sethe was a slave, until she faces her past, she cannot enjoy her future. Sethe first appears as an independent and strong African American woman, whom refuses to accept help from anyone.

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Which her community sees her as being stuck up, “trying to do it all alone with her nose in the air” (Morrison 299) she think of herself different from her community, which the community thinks it’s unfair that former ex-slaves Sethe and her mother-in-law Baby Suggs isolate themselves from their community . When former ex-slave and friend of the family Paul D arrives on Sethe’s doorstep, the past memories from Sethe former life that was stored in her mind long ago and her resolve strength to block out those traumatic events that happened in her past begins to crumble, as do her tough exterior behavior.

During Paul D’s arrival, Denver, Sethe’s daughter notices that her mother is, “Looking in fact acting like a girl, instead of the quiet, queenly woman Denver had known all her life…The one who never looked away. ” (Morrison 14). Throughout the novel the character’s behavior shifts occurs between Sethe and her daughter. Denver being the most dynamic character in the novel, started out as a very dependent 18 year old girl lacking purpose in her life from suffering from years of relative isolation. Who later on in the novel transformed from being sheltered to being the protector of the household.

Towards the end of the novel Morrison reveals Denver motherly love, care, and watch over her once strong and independent mother. Both Sethe and Denver each in their own way matures along this rough journey, and gains a better understanding of themselves and their lives. The force of the past is evident even in the difficult struggle of Sethe’s speaking about the matter. Morrison presents many flashbacks and nightmares of Sethe’s past that she wouldn’t like to discuss to people. Paul D. introduced Sethe to unwanted feelings of her past that is back to haunt her, even, when she tried to shut everything out of her mind.

Paul D always reminded her of her horrible experience at Sweet Home plantation, “Sweet” meaning pleasing and “Home” meaning shelter of Mr. and Mrs. Garner’s owners of Sweet Home. The events that occurred at Sweet Home reveals, the idea of benevolent slavery is a contradiction to what slavery really was during those times. The Garners’ were the opposite of the new owner the called the “Schoolteacher’s” vicious racism. The symbolism of Denver’s “emerald closet,” boxwood bushes functions as a place of solitude for her. The beautiful trees that were growing around the Sweet Home plantation mask the true horror that was embedded in Sethe’s memory.

Visual imagery of the scars on Sethe’s back a “chokecherry tree,” symbolizes the sight of trauma and brutality into one’s of beauty and growth, it also reveals the imagery of lynching’s that occurred, however, trees reveal a connection with a darker side of humanity and slavery Sethe’s “rough decision” to kill her oldest daughter rather than have her become a slave at Sweet Home plantation was a risk she was willing to take, Beloved, Sethe’s murdered baby’s ghost had supposedly resurrected back from the grave, bringing with her memories of “two boys [bleeding] in the sawdust and dirt at the feet of a nigger woman holding a blood soaked child to her chest” (Morrison 175). The bloodied baby Sethe was holding happened to be Beloved, her very own daughter whom she sacrificed her life just so that she wouldn’t have to live a life of slavery like her mother.

The irony about this novel is that a mother willingness to protect her young by sacrificing their life so they didn’t have to suffer. Morrison painted this horrific tragedy to help the audience understand that during slavery times Black mothers were denied their maternal rights to love and care for their children; treated like animals on their for the white men to lay around with, denied black mothers the right to feel maternal love and eventually made them conflicting feelings towards their own offspring, Morrison explores the mental psychological of an enslaved mothers to do what normal mother of today wouldn’t really do to protect their children, Sethe had to what she have done.

Extreme guilt about what she has done to Beloved, Sethe was practically going mad just to try to make Beloved understand that everything she did she did because she loved her, “Sethe sat around all day like a rag doll, broke down, finally, for trying to take care of and make up for” (Morrison 286). Beloved loved the attention she was receiving from her mother, but no signs of forgiveness were ever showed, for she wanted more adoration. Putting the past and the bad memories behind us and try to move on no matter what the outcome of the circumstances may be can, help your future become much happier. Sethe struggled to let go of the traumatic past she had to face, which made it harder to look forward in next day ahead over her. Morrison use of flashbacks t and the character psychological thoughts help the audience understand Sethe have a loving heart and only do what’s right for her children.

Work Cited
Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Signet, 1991

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