ENG 300 Major Authors: Toni Morrison
Paper #2, Question 4
During the mid 1800s, when slavery was still very much alive, blacks were faced with endless mistreatment and abuse. This abuse was not only physical, but also very emotionally and mentally traumatizing. African American and African slaves were viewed solely as property and were never treated as humans. Although the consequences of slavery on blacks are endless, a major effect was the loss of one’s personal identity.
Identity is a central theme in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a novel set during the times of slavery. Throughout Beloved, Morrison introduces us to characters and their own past experiences with slavery, describing through flashbacks how their experiences caused them to lose or fail to develop their personal identity. A number of characters in Beloved, including Stamp Paid, Baby Suggs, Paul D, and Sethe, all described a personal journey effected by slavery and found or formed a personal identity for themselves through freedom. Throughout the novel, Morrison uses an interesting way of developing the characters and introducing the readers to their experiences. Not only does she move in and out of each of the characters minds, she also uses the flashbacks of their pasts on slave plantations to guide readers through the trauma they experienced. The imagery used in the description of a character’s thoughts and memories is what makes the flashbacks or
conversation seem so real. I believe that the strong use of imagery is also what aids the readers in understanding the difficulty and struggles that the characters went through to become who they are, have the memories they have and feel the way they feel.
The moment Baby Suggs stepped foot on free ground was the moment she found her identity. Morrison helps us learn more about the character Baby Suggs by taking us into a flashback of her life during her slavery days: Baby Suggs was an older slave woman who was freed by being bought out by her own son Halle. Slavery had not only taken a number of her children away from her, but it also took away her right