• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Representation of slavery in 'Beloved' by Toni Morrison

Extracts from this document...


Representation of slavery in 'Beloved' by Toni Morrison Those who are unfamiliar with the raw concept of what the institution of slavery was will consider its role in 'Beloved' as truly disturbing and psychologically horrifying. In a modern world where slavery has become a distant concept that is virtually non-existent, it no longer has a true identity. In this novel, we are shown how slavery cannot be simply defined as the trade in people, but as the manipulation of their emotions and freedom by others who held power over them. 'Beloved' reveals slavery in its purest form, what it really was at its most powerful and how it left former slaves mentally shattered even after it was abolished. The novel is very complex and the theme of slavery works on a number of levels. Within the text, it is rich in historical detail regarding slavery by cataloguing atrocities of slavery, with the purpose of highlighting its harsh reality. Slavery as a theme is explored in 'Beloved' through the traumatic experiences of former slaves and despite being physically free, their past continues to haunt them. Through the paraphernalia of slavery in the novel, Morrison is aiming to educate the reader slavery in its totality. Morrison does this through teaching the reader about slavery, almost as a history lesson and by giving it characteristics that tell the reader what it was like. ...read more.


This is certainly true of Schoolteacher who seems to command respect as he feels superior, however, by doing this he is just proving how inhumane people like him are and in spite of his education the slaves are superior to him. Sethe is left psychologically scarred by the trauma of what was inflicted upon her and will not allow her children to suffer like she had as a slave: - 'That anybody white could take your whole self for anything that came to mind... Dirty you so bad you couldn't like yourself anymore. Dirty you so bad you forgot who you were and couldn't think it up.. the best thing was, her children. Whites might dirt her all right, but not her best thing'. The repetition of 'Dirty you..' calls attention to Sethes feelings of her no longer being herself anymore. So when the threat of Schoolteacher taking her 'best thing' away from her into a world she did not want her children to experience, she makes the ultimate decision. Sethe was determined not to allow Schoolteacher take her children: - 'I have felt what it felt like and nobody.. is going to make you feel it too. Not you, not none of mine, and when I tell you you mine, I mean I'm yours.' ...read more.


Forgetting is repeated again in the chapter to emphasize its importance and making the past into 'an unpleasant dream'. It is through Beloved that Sethe finds an inner peace. Morrison is reinforcing the message to many black Americans that like Sethe they must achieve their own inner peace. They must learn to forget the past as stated 'Remembering seemed unwise.', so to remember the past will achieve nothing but looking to the future they will also achieve their own freedom. Morrison emphasizes the need for the black community not to teach the future generations the mistakes of the past through repetition of the single line 'It was not a story to pass on.'at two separate points of the chapter. The characters in the novel that had any contact with Beloved did this as they realised that to remember too much would be a mistake. In a paragraph after the second time this line is repeated, Morrison warns the black American reader: - 'This is not a story to pass on'. This single statement is of a much more blunt and threatening tone and acts as a final warning. Essentially, what Morrison is saying is that eventually the past can be forgotten and then a future can be achieved. Slavery was their past and not the future. It was harsh and brutal for their forefathers whom were the victims of an inhumane institution but that doesn't mean the future has to be their past too. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. 100 plus maketing plan

    and specially etc and MTV are the most viewed channels by teen age groups. And in Tamilnadu, Kerla most viewed channel like Vijay TV, Sun TV should be targeted. TV communicates with sight, sound and motion, which is needed for HOT ICE TEA.

  2. Beloved and the Plague. This essay attempt to use two different books about ...

    This would mean that the message that the author is trying to convey would not be passed on to the reader, even if it is very meaningful. By using chronological order, the person will able to understand the course

  1. Questions and answers on "Cry, the beloved country".

    In the end of the book, problems get solved and the weather of Ndotsheni starts to get better as well. In conclusion, the situation of the plot is much like the setting. 7. Why did James Jarvis help a person, Kumalo, whose son killed Arthur, James's son?

  2. Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of books , Volume 53, Number 17 ...

    Pieixoto complains that Offred did not give more details into government and military activities: "she could have told us much about the workings of the Gileadean Empire, had she had the instincts of a reporter or a spy"(pg. 386). The historians are frustrated that Offred's story cannot be concretely verified

  1. "The Plague" and "Beloved" comparative essay

    back to it, as if we are revising for it again and again until we remember it by the end of the story. Unfortunately, The Plague ends as a tragic comedy. Although the protagonists finally overcome the plague, many lives, including Paneloux and Tarrou, have been lost to the antagonist.

  2. In the novel The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison writes of a community in Lorain, ...

    When everyone in town finds out that Cholly raped Pecola, she gets teased and is stigmatized even more. Pecola then goes to a local mystic to request that he give her blue eyes so she can have the beauty she needs and deserves.

  1. Own Slave Ship Story - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American ...

    A uniformed fellow did come along to see what the commotion was, but just swore and told us that the water would leak out again. We stayed silent, believing him, and fearing that any word uttered in the presence of a whip could be painful.

  2. "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison. During this passage, Claudia describes a childhood memory ...

    For her parents, which are used by Toni Morrison to represent the values and ideas of the black community, Claudia should be found of her present because the doll represents what they believe beauty is. This passage creates a strong contrast between society and individuality and is very important to understand the society in which the characters live.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work