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Beloved - Slaverys impact on Sethe

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Introduction

BELOVED: Slavery=s impact on Sethe . The institution of slavery manifested cruel and unusual treatment to its victims. These victims were mostly from Africa. They consisted of men, women and children who were brought and sold in America to labor in fields or their master=s quarters. In Beloved, the novel portrays how slavery inflicted such pain and sorrow on its victims, Sethe and the other slaves at Sweet Home. At this plantation, Sethe witnessed and endured the light and dark sides of slavery. It was the dark side=s horrendous nature which forced Sethe=s attempt to kill all four of her children. The ghost, Beloved, was created out of Sethe=s desperation to ensure no child of hers ever has to experience such inhumane treatment as forced upon her as a woman slave. Sweet Home was a plantation in a region in Kentucky. There were only six slaves taking care of the fields and the main quarters. The slaves consisted of five men, Sixo, Paul A, Paul F, Halle and Paul D. These men were slaves of Mr. Garner, the proprietor of Sweet Home. Mr. Garner Aran a special kind of slavery@ (165). He treated them more like paid laborers. To Mr. Garner, Amy niggers is men . . . Brought em that way that way, raised em that-away@ (12). But although he considered them men, he only made this statement on his plantation. Paul D later figured out, AOne step off that ground and they were trespassers among the human race@ (147-148). They were slaves confined to never leave the grounds of Sweet Home. Mr. Garner was more humane to his slaves by the standards of other slave owners. Yet, the lives of his slaves were not their own. He had ultimate control and authority over each one of their lives, including Sethe=s once his property. Sethe arrived to replace Baby Suggs. Baby Suggs, an older slave, freedom was brought by her son, Halle. ...read more.

Middle

With no other women around to care for them, she had to do her chores and constantly go out and check on her babies who were left all along. Sethe loved her babies and this was probably one of the hardest part of her slave existence to not be able to be given some decency in at least having her babies around her while she worked. Along with all her chores, she made ink which the Schoolteacher liked only her to make. It was important for him to write in his book (44). Schoolteacher=s pseudoscience application of dehumanizing the slaves with his questions and his teachings to his student made Sethe realize he had considered slaves as chattel. His teachings to these pupils were about how slave had more animal characteristics than human characters, which proves that he used his superiority as their overseer to justify his actions of being a pure, sadistic racist. Overhearing the Schoolteacher=s categorization of the human and nonhuman elements of slaves like herself, was so hurtful and painful to Sethe=s heart that the experience caused a strange pinching and itching at her head. (228) Sethe discovered the Schoolteacher value of her self worth. Slaves were actually more animal than human. This ideology was the Schoolteacher=s justification for his superiority of the slaves. The strange feeling she had of her head was caused from an anxiety attach. There was worse then the Schoolteacher=s racist placement of slaves being like chattel. Sethe was to fear her children being taking away from her by the Schoolteacher=s statement to Halle. Sethe was adjusting to all of the Schoolteachers demands with a grain of salt. The bottom finally fell out when Halle told her that the Schoolteacher said he did not have to work outside on Sunday. Schoolteacher stated to Halle A the reason for doing it don=t hold. I should do the extra but here at Sweet Home@ (231). ...read more.

Conclusion

Sethe had endured so much trauma from slavery that she was determined that her children would not have to succumb to this way of life. She would rather kill them than give them back to Sweet Home and the cruel, barbaric way of living one was condemned to if a slave. In the novel, Beloved, Sethe was a born into a perilous life of slavery. She had no claim to anything, not even herself and later realized her four children. Sethe had witnessed some many tragedies, starting from a young child. She had no bonding with her mother, just glimpses of her. The only real conversation she had with her was when her mother showed her brand, a cross under her breast. Sethe witnessed her mother=s cruel death by hanging and disfigurement where she couldn=t even identify her. She left the Carolinas to come to Sweet Home where she briefly received humaneness with the Garners until the Schoolteacher arrived. During this time, Sethe was forced to leave her babies outside her work area. Her children were her Abest@. She got them out of the hell of Sweet Home before the Schoolteacher could take them away from her. Sethe=s escaped involved her being raped and her breast milk stolen. She saw Paul D who was displaying the cruelties of being caught around his neck and in his mouth. Sethe recognized Paul F, hanging on a tree without head or feet, by his shirt. Sethe escaped severely hurt and with the help of Amy, a white slave, she managed to deliver Denver and make it to Baby Suggs house where here children were. She enjoyed twenty-eight days of freedom and when the Schoolteacher and his posse came to claim her and her children desperation fogged good judgement. Slavery had pounded on her so much pain and terror that she would rather see her own children dead than to become part of the institution of slavery. Thus, her baby girl, Beloved, died not for nothing. What Sethe wanted she accomplished, they did not take the remainder of her babies back into slavery. ...read more.

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