One of my favorite books is Beloved by Toni Morrison. It is based on a true story. The novel talks about Margaret Garner, a Black slave who escaped from a plantation. She fled with her family from Kentucky in 1856 and settled in Ohio. After a short stay in Ohio, her former boss accompanied by law enforcers attempted to recapture her. To prevent her recapture and that of her daughter, she decided to kill the daughter as she could not stand seeing her going back to slavery. For her, the daughter would rather be dead than being a slave and also she preferred being charged with a murder case than going back to being a slave.
The novel also talks about Sethe, a devoted mother who had a lot of passion for her family. Together with her children, she fled away from her abusive husband. They left her owner referred to in the novel as ‘schoolteacher’ but she was recaptured shortly after. As a mother with supreme love for her family, Sethe tried to kill her children as to prevent them from going back to slavery but it is only her younger daughter who died out of the action and the rest survived. . The ‘schoolteacher’ seeing her as being as crazy woman, decided not recapture her.
According to Toni, Sethe decided to have ‘Beloved’ inscribed on her daughter’s tombstone (153). She intended to make it read “Dearly Beloved”, however, she could not have the two words printed as she was exhausted. The engraver charged ten minutes of sex with her for each word.
All the events in the novel come to be revealed as flashback as the story opened up in 1873. Sethe together with the daughter, Denver, lived in Ohio. A ghost haunted their house at 124 Bluestone. The angry spirit was Sethe’s daughter whom she killed to avoid going back to slavery. The arrival of Paul D alleviated the haunting. Paul’s slavery past ravaged him too much. The two had worked together at a plantation. They soon started having a relationship.
The period of relative calm they enjoyed ended when they encountered a young lady who said her name was Beloved (Brandt and Stefan 400)
. It was like a rebirth of Sethe’s deceased daughter as most evidence in the book supports it. Her appearance made Sethe to be obsessed, and the guilt of killing her own daughter could not make her be at peace with herself. Beloved became too demanding, and she even seduced Paul D against his will. He had to divorce Sethe after knowing that she killed her daughter.
Life at 124 Bluestone turned worse for Sethe and her daughter Denver. Sethe lost her job, and Beloved got pregnant. Denver, Sethe’s daughter had become friends with Beloved, but due to too much concern, she left home to consult with the community about the ghost sister. After consulting the community for help, they decided to carry out an exorcism. Beloved the ghost daughter of Sethe disappeared after some commotions in the house. Paul D and Beloved hated each other and he only returned to stay with Sethe after the disappearance of Beloved.
The story outlined the impacts of slavery on people’s lives. It has a long-term effect on the enslaved as Sethe had to live with the memory of her slavery for the rest of the life. Mothers may do anything to be with their families. Sethe had to kill her daughter to prevent her from going back to slavery. Love is portrayed in the book and is recognized when Sethe said, “she was my best thing” (Toni 320). Sethe and her family had forgotten about Beloved and her appearance was a surprise so the author ends the novel by saying, “this is not a story to pass on” Beloved is a novel which should not miss in your library as you will learn how the African-Americans were in slavery.
Brandt, Stefan L. “History, Time, and Lived Experience in Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), and Paradise (1997).” Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik 65.4 (2017): 395-411.Morrison,
Toni. Beloved. Christian Bourgois, 2015.