Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Messages and Meanings in the text

Messages & Meanings

In the novel of Beloved, we can see that Toni Morrison wants us to reflect on the problems of the black people in the novel, and she shows us how life was in 1850. Sethe kills Beloved when she was a baby for love to her and because she didn’t want Beloved to suffer as Sethe had suffered. Morrison shows us what it was like to be a slave and all the conflicts that the race had. Moreover, she also shows how society interacted with the black people in 1850. So the main themes that Toni Morrison shows us are slavery's destruction of identity and the importance of community solidarity.

Slavery’s destruction of identity

Paul D: “Saying more might push them both to a place they couldn't get back from. He would keep the rest where it belonged: in that tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be. Its lid rusted shut”.

In Chapter 7, Paul D begins sharing his painful memories with Sethe, but he fears that revealing too much will wrench the two former slaves back into a past from which they might never escape. Both Sethe and Paul D avoid the pain of their past as best they can. Sethe has effectively erased much of her memory, and Paul D functions by locking his memories and emotions away in his imagined “tobacco tin.” The rustiness of the tin contributes to the reader's sense of the inaccessibility and corrosiveness of Paul D's memories. His separation from his emotions means he is alienated from himself, but Paul D is willing to pay the price to keep himself from his painful and turbulent past.

2. Stamp Paid: “White people believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle. Swift unnavigable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood. In a way . . . they were right. . . . But it wasn't the jungle blacks brought with them to this place. . . . It was the jungle whitefolks planted in them. And it grew. It spread . . . until it invaded the whites who had made it. . . . Made them bloody, silly, worse than even they wanted to be, so scared were they of the jungle they had made. The screaming baboon lived under their own white skin; the red gums were their own.”

In Chapter 19, at the beginning of Part Two, Stamp Paid considers the ways in which slavery corrupts and dehumanizes everyone who comes in contact with it, including the white slave owners. It makes them fearful, sadistic, and raving. For example, one could say that schoolteacher's perverse lessons and violent racism exist because they are his means of justifying the institution of slavery. The passage derives its power from the way Morrison moves the images of the jungle around, so that, by the end, the whites are the ones who hide a jungle under their skin; they are consuming themselves.

For the importance of the community solidarity. and more information, see this.

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