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April 19th, 1996 A critical analysis of the main characters and plot from the novel "Beloved" (BY TONI
MORRISON). Frank Mancini [email protected] Beloved is a novel set in Ohio during 1873, several years after
the Civil War. The book centers on characters who struggle fruitlessly to keep their painful recollections of the past
at bay. The whole story revolves around issues of race, gender, family relationships and the supernatural, covering
two generations and three decades up to the 19th century. Concentrating on events arising from the Fugitive Slave
Act of 1856, it describes the horrendous consequences of an escape from slavery for Sethe, her children and Paul
D.The narrative begins 18 years after Sethe\'s break for freedom, and it gradually persuades the reader to accept
the haunting of 124 Bluestone Road by a 2 year old child, killed by her mother Sethe: "Full of baby\'s venom. The
women in the house knew it and so did the 1873 Sethe and her daughter Denver were its only victims"
(Page 1). The novel is divided into three parts. Each part opens with statements as to indicate the progress of the
haunting-from the poltergeist to the materialized spirit to the final freeing of both the spirit and Sethe;Part I: 124
WAS SPITEFUL" (Page 1); Part II: " 124 WAS LOUD"(Page 169); Part III: "124 WAS QUIET" (Page 239).
These parts reflect the progressive reconciliation of a betrayed child and her desperate mother. Overall symbolizing
the gradual acceptance of freedom and the enormous work and continuous struggle that would persist for the next
100 years.The dynamics of the story attempt to distance the reader from an immediate and direct exposure to the
extremes of the real horror contained in the narrative. The narrative jumps from one setting to another, from the
past to the present. However, the complex chronology is necessary to understand the psychological and emotional
state of all the participants in the story.Reading the story resembles"listening"to a story.This peculiar "oral" style
surfaces;it feels as if the novel is speaking the emotions of each character out loudly, allowing the reader to identify
with each one. Events that occurred prior and during the 18 years of Sethe\'s freedom are slowly revealed and
pieced together throughout the novel. Ever so painfully, Sethe is in need of rebuilding her identity and remembering
the past and her origins: "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. If a house burns down it\'s gone,but the
place--the picture of it-stays, and not just in rememory, but out there in the world" (Page 35). The author moves
around the characters allowing each participant in the story a turn-Baby Suggs, Paul D, Stamp Paid, Denver, Sethe
and Beloved--to convey their perceptions of events to the reader. Baby Suggs\' horror at her grandchild\'s murder is
passionately displayed:"Baby Suggs had got the boys inside and was bathing their heads,rubbing their hands,lifting
their lids, whispering, \'Beg your pardon, I beg your pardon,\' the whole time" (Page 152). Within this horror, the
insensitivity of her landlord is shown when Baby Suggs is approached by her landlord\'s kids regarding fixing some
shoes, not knowing and not caring to know they just give her the shoes: "Baby Suggs ... She took the shoes from
him...saying, \'I beg your pardon. Lord, I beg your pardon. I sure do" (Page 153). Paul D\'s memories of Sweet
Home are remembered to confront his and Sethe\'s past:"Paul D smiled then,remembering the bedding dress. Sethe
was thirteen when she came to Sweet Home and already iron-eyed" (Page 10). These various voices act as
witnesses to Sethe\'s experiences and showing how black women had no control over their husbands, children or
own bodies. Racial issues are one of the main issues in Beloved. The story revolves around the life of a former
slave and her attempts to get on with her life as best as she can considering what the white slave owners have put
her through. The cruelties of the slaves by the slave owners in this story are probably conservative compared to
what really occurred in many

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Topics Related to Beloved1

Beloved, Women and death, American literature, Death, Sethe, Suggs, Slavery, Fiction

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