English 3 HL
9 November 2014
The Past Haunts
In the novel “Beloved”, the author Toni Morrison uses the characters in the book to build on the importance of how the exslaves’ lives are affected by Beloved. The story is based on how the reincarnation of Sethe’s dead baby affects each character in the book. Morrison utilizes that to reflect how each of their perspectives are altered by how their past lives were. Each character is affected differently and is demonstrated by how they react to the events. The story starts off with the death of Sethe’s baby, and how its ghost haunts them. This acts as a metaphor for how the characters become haunted by their pasts. The author illustrates the effects of each character as she tells the story of Beloved.
When the slave catchers came to capture Sethe and her family, she decides to take her own baby’s life to save her from being taken and made into a slave. What she did was her trying to do a good thing because she didn’t want her daughter to live the life she did. However, the baby’s spirit ended up violently haunting the family. When she was a slave, she endured physical, emotional, and sexual trauma, which is why she is willing to do anything to keep her children from experiencing what she did. Because of her traumatizing past, she is afraid to think
about the past and ignores the fact that she knows that Beloved is the reincarnation of her dead baby. This disables her from being able to live the life she dreams of.
Denver, Sethe’s daughter, is scarred by years of being isolated. For this reason, she is fearful to step out of her comfort zone. Fortunately, she did not have to go through what her mother did. She reflects her identity based on her mother and her dead sister, and is able to build a connection to the supernatural world due to the strong bond she has with her sister, the baby ghost. Because of her fear to leave her home and be responsible on her own, she has a younger mindset. She lives her life with fear due to the incident of her mother killing her sister, and her mother’s attempt to kill her. Denver has experienced many losses in her life, including her baby sister and her grandma, which in return cause her to isolate herself.
Denver’s grandmother, Baby Suggs, has experienced the longest years of slavery compared to the other characters. She was born into slavery and her past haunted her so much that she became depressed. However, when she escaped her enslaved life, she found a way to live happily through her faith in God. She became a preacher and leader to many people because she inspired so many people. Unfortunately, when the event where Sethe kills her daughter occurs, Baby Suggs sinks back into depression and ends up continuously reflecting back on her past as a slave. When Beloved is introduced into the story, it becomes worst for Baby Suggs because she is constantly reminded about her traumatizing past.
In this novel, the negative effects from Paul D’s exslave life are apparent from the way he faces what happens to him throughout the story. His life at Sweet Home was filled with traumatizing events that made who he is today. He sees himself as less of a man because when he was living at Sweet Home, he was forced to do many things, from sleeping in ditches to
pleasuring white men. However, after his escape from Sweet Home, he is able to find himself.
He becomes more of a man than ever from protecting Sethe’s family and always being there for her. Even though Denver dislikes Paul D because she sees him as a threat to her family, she ends up warming up to him. Him getting rid of the baby ghost was a big accomplishment for him because it proved that he is a man and that he can look out for his family though, this caused problems between him and Beloved. When Beloved shows up in the story, this