Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Character Guide: Sethe
S E T H E
Sethe is the protagonist of the novel; she is a black woman, child of an African-born slave woman whose name she never knew. Sethe used to be a slave at Sweet Home, where she married Halle and met Paul D, whom later would be her lover. A particular characteristic of Sethe is her devotion to her four children, even though they are not longer with her, except for Denver, who lives at 124 with Sethe.
After escaping from Sweet Home, while being pregnant, her life turned even more frustrating. Rather than allow her children to be returned to slavery, she attempted to kill all of them, claiming to have a thick love for them, succeeding only in killing the baby girl, in an act that is, in her mind, one of motherly love and protection. Since then, she hasn’t been able to release herself from that episode of her life.
Too thick? Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t no love at all.
Sethe is traumatized for what she experienced as a slave. One event that marked her is when some boys took her milk, which belonged to her baby daughter and then whipped her, leaving scars in shape of a chokecherry tree.
After I left you, those boys came in there and took my milk.
That’s what they came in there for. Held me down and took it.
[…] Schoolteacher made one open up my back, and when it closed it made a tree.
When Sethe escaped all alone from Sweet Home she thought that she wasn’t going to make it, as she was pregnant of Denver, but then a white angel appeared, a girl named Amy, and helped her with the job.
After this event, Sethe went to Baby Suggs’ house, where she stood all her life in company of Denver.