The Dehumanization Of Slavery In Toni Morrison's Beloved

Words: 1065
Pages: 5

Liliana Hallman
HL IB Year 2 English
Beloved Essay
Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved encaptures many feelings a freed slave may have felt and how they viewed their past, present, and future. Their lives were often shaped by their time as a slave. The use of emasculation, the symbolization of milk, and the symbolization of beastiality and animal imagery come together to show forgotten parts of slavery and the details of the dehumanization of slaves. The brutal experiences they endured were meant to drive them further from recognition as a human in order to keep them enslaved. This was shown to still be a problem after becoming free when the characters of Beloved questioned their own and other’s humanity. Morrison uses dehumanization to show the detrimental effects of slavery on the characters of Beloved.
Paul D’s masculinity is brought into question throughout various points in Beloved. He especially struggled with his masculinity when he wanted to tell Sethe that he had been sleeping with Beloved. He considered his life at Sweet Home and how Mr. Gardner’s relationship with his male slaves made
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White slave owners wanted to dehumanize slaves in order to keep themselves in charge. Slaves were seen as cattle. This is shown when the men on Sweet Home had to have sex with cows as an alternative to women. They weren't allowed to have sex with women unless they were purposely being bred together. The dehumanizing effects of this animalistic treatment were detrimental because it followed them out of slavery. In Sethe’s case, attempting to kill her children was seen as the act of an animal. Even Paul D., who had lived through slavery and was freed confronted her on it by saying: “You got two feet Sethe, not four” (page 194). This was a harsh blow to her and showed the reader that she was still affected by slavery. She was a person, not an animal. It hurt her to think that even Paul D., a lifelong ally, thought she was acting