Monday, 10 November 2008
Theme Exploration: Redemption
In the Bible it is suggested that:
“Our Redeemer is "the Beloved"--Jesus Christ. We are acceptable to God because we have been made one with Christ through faith. In Him that we are made acceptable and given redemption.”
a) His ascription
The term “Beloved" was God's special name for His Son.
Beloved forces people to face their past experiences. Her supernatural force makes them confront the past and forces them to reflect about it. In an ironic way, Beloved’s ghost apparently looking for a vengeance that could save her, enhances Sethe, Paul D and other characters to open their memories and find a sort of redemption in them.
Morrison's novel appears twenty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act when in many ways African Americans are worse off than they were back then. In this post-Civil Rights era the African American community wrestles with whether to tie their redemption to the white community's redemption or whether they should instead separate, turn inward, and heal themselves. Morrison uses Ella, the leader of the black community's posse to get rid of Beloved, to explore the topic:
"Whatever Sethe had done, Ella didn't like the idea of past errors taking possession of the present. . . . Daily life took as much as she had. The future was sunset; the past something to leave behind. And if it didn't stay behind, well, you might have to stomp it out. Slave life; freed life -- every day was a test and trail. Nothing could be counted on in a world where even when you were a solution you were a problem. "Sufficient unto day is the evil thereof," and nobody needed more; nobody needed a grown up evil sitting at the table with a grudge. As long as the ghost showed out from its ghostly place shaking stuff, crying, smashing and such -- Ella respected it. But if it took flesh and came in her world, well, the shoe was on the other foot. She didn't mind a little communication between the two worlds, but this was an invasion." (Pg 256)
While not condemning Sethe as many of the novel's characters do, Morrison extends a vision that moves beyond victimization for sectors of the black community unable to escape a dreadful past that won't let go of their present like Beloved and Sethe wouldn't let go of each other. As Beloved exacts her vengeance and as the community plays both the role of judge and redeemer the protagonists go down different, and surprising paths. Those who can't let go of the past self destruct while those who choose to respect and mourn the past but not be beholden to it find unexpected freedom.
Beloved invades Sethe’s world at a time when memories were starting to fade. Beloved does not only bring forth the painful memories of Sethe but forces her to seek in them salvation.