Toni Morrison

Beloved (1987)

By:

Ashwaq Alattal

Maha Al-Moutairi

 

Who is Toni Morrison?

 

     Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in 1931 in Lorain, Ohio.

     The daughter of a shipyard welder and a religious woman who sang in The Church Choir.

     Her parents had moved to Ohio from the south, hoping to raise their children in an environment more friendly to blacks.

     Graduated from Howard in 1953 with a B.A. in English and a new name Toni Wofford, and receive her M.A. in English from Cornell in 1955.

     Married from Harrold Morrison, had two sons, then got divorce in 1957.

     She was the first black woman who received the Nobel prize in literature.

     She has many works such as “Bluest Eye”, “Sula”, “Song of Solomon”, “Tar Baby”, and “Paradise”.

 

The characters list:

 

     Sethe: A child of an African born slave woman, whose name she never knew. As a young teenager she was brought to sweet home, where she took a man named Halle Suggs as her husband. She had four children, attempted to kill them rather than see them returned to slavery.

     Beloved: The ghost of Sethe’s third child, murdered to protect her from Schoolteacher.

     Denver: Sethe’s daughter. A very dynamic character, by the end of the novel she is transformed into a strong and independent young woman.

     Halle Suggs: Sethe’s husband and the father of all her children. Vanished at the time when he was supposed to flee to the North with Sethe. Later he had gone insane.

     Mr. Garner: The old master of sweet home. He was generous by the standards of salve owners.

     Schoolteacher: Mr. Garner’s brother-in-low. A cruel and sadistic master, interested in ways to break the wills of his slaves.

 

Summary of the plot:

 

     Sethe is a slave who works at Sweet Home with some men who find her attractive; but she marries Halle Suggs. Mr. and Mrs. Garner own this plantation. They treat the slaves kindly. Unfortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Garner both become ill, and when Mr. Garner dies the schoolteacher takes over the work of running the plantation. The schoolteacher is cruel and inhumane. As a result, the slaves decide to escape. However, their plan goes wrong and Sethe is abused. Anyway, she arrives to Baby Suggs’s house. After a short time, Sethe attempts to murder her children in order to protect them from slavery; but her daughter Denver is saved by Stamp Paid.

     Strange things begin to happen. It seems as though 124 is haunted by Beloved’s ghost.

     When he arrives at 124, Paul D is greeted by Beloved’s ghost. He yells at it, chases it out, and scares it away for what they think is for good.

     A mysterious young woman emerges from the river, as if being born from a womb. When the young woman makes references to something only Sethe’s daughter could know, Denver realizes that this girl, who calls herself Beloved, is the ghost of her sister in a human form.

 

     Beloved becomes increasingly clingy to Sethe and soon Sethe, becoming so wrapped up in pleasing Beloved, begins to neglect Denver.

     Soon the town learns of Sethe’s condition through rumors, some of which are untrue.

     when Beloved sees all of the people she vanishes, never to be seen again. Paul D. returns to 124, and together Sethe, and Denver and he move on to have a better future than their pasts.

 

The Themes:

 

     Motherhood

     Manhood

     Slavery’s destruction of identity

     The importance of community solidarity