Download 33290204-Beloved Bloom Modern Critical Interpretations PDF

Title33290204-Beloved Bloom Modern Critical Interpretations
TagsNovels Narration Dignity Free Will Narrative
File Size972.6 KB
Total Pages231
Table of Contents
Putting "His Story Next to Hers"
To Love and Be Loved
The Mother-Daughter
Ten Minutes for Seven Letters
Derogatory Images of Sex
What We Talk About
A Love Supreme
Beloved's Claim
Object Written, Written Object
A Slave by Any Other Name
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations
The Adventures of

Huckleberry Finn
The Age of Innocence
Alice’s Adventures in

All Quiet on the

Western Front
As You Like It
The Ballad of the Sad

Black Boy
The Bluest Eye
The Canterbury Tales
Cat on a Hot Tin

The Catcher in the

The Chronicles of

The Color Purple
Crime and

The Crucible
Darkness at Noon
Death of a Salesman
The Death of Artemio

Don Quixote
Emerson’s Essays
Fahrenheit 451
A Farewell to Arms

The Grapes of Wrath
Great Expectations
The Great Gatsby
Gulliver’s Travels
The Handmaid’s Tale
Heart of Darkness
I Know Why the

Caged Bird Sings
The Iliad
Jane Eyre
The Joy Luck Club
The Jungle
Lord of the Flies
The Lord of the Rings
Love in the Time of

The Man Without

The Metamorphosis
Miss Lonelyhearts
My Ántonia
Native Son
The Odyssey
Oedipus Rex
The Old Man and the

On the Road
One Flew Over the

Cuckoo’s Nest
One Hundred Years of


Portnoy’s Complaint
A Portrait of the Artist

as a Young Man
Pride and Prejudice
The Red Badge of

The Rime of the

Ancient Mariner
The Rubáiyát of Omar

The Scarlet Letter
Silas Marner
Song of Solomon
The Sound and the

The Stranger
A Streetcar Named

The Tale of Genji
A Tale of Two Cities
The Tempest
Their Eyes Were

Watching God
Things Fall Apart
To Kill a Mockingbird
Waiting for Godot
The Waste Land
White Noise
Wuthering Heights
Young Goodman


Page 115

106 Reginald Watson

conceived through sexual exploitation. In slavery, a black woman was expected
to have many daddies for her children, but under such a system, there could
be very few fathers. The black man was not expected to have responsibility for
the fruit of his loins. He was a studding animal who was supposed to have sex
with numerous black women. Fidelity was definitely not expected from the
black man. So it is no wonder that Baby Suggs was proud of Halle for several
reasons. He was obviously the offspring of a black man, and later in life he
became a “somebody son” who would stay “married” to Sethe and father all of
her children. Halle, the last child of eight, was Baby Sugg’s hope, the checker
piece that would not be moved from her life. It is unfortunate, though, that
later in life, despite the saving of Halle’s body, Baby Suggs could not hold on
to his mind, forever lost because of slavery’s brutal exploitation of Sethe.

Later, it is revealed through Denver’s perspective that Baby Suggs was
very conscious of how both white and black people probably looked down
on her because her eight children had different daddies. Denver’s reflective
thoughts on Baby Suggs help to sum up the dilemmas that black women
faced on a daily basis:

Slaves not supposed to have pleasurable feelings on their own;
their bodies not supposed to be like that, but they have to have as
many children as they can to please whoever owned them. Still,
they were not supposed to have pleasure deep down. She said for
me not to listen to all that. That I should always listen to my body
and love it. (Morrison 209)

To Denver, Baby Suggs was representative of how black women were forced
to be “brood sows,” animals that were supposed to reproduce for only the
master’s benefit. Still, before Baby Suggs loses her mind and dies, she
teaches Denver that a black woman should learn to listen and love her body,
especially when others did not. Denver is truly a ray of hope, a progressive
step beyond the harsh indignities that her mother, her grandmother, and
other black mothers had to endure. By work’s end, it becomes clear that
Denver will not be just another victim; her body will not be violated by the
phallus of white or black society.

Unfortunately, though, this is not the case for Ella, another black woman
victimized by sexual exploitation. In the novel, she is the first to convince the
other women in the community that Sethe was in need of help. She was one
of the women who thought things through and decided to bring Sethe back
within the circle of “folk” by exorcising the vengeful ghost. Ella was glad no
one loved her because she considered love a “serious disability.” Ella is scarred
and raped by the white phallus of slavery. Like Baby Suggs, Ella is used as
a sexual object, “shared by father and son,” white men whom she considered

Page 116

107Derogatory Images of Sex

as the “lowest yet” and who gave her disgust for sex and against whom she
measured all atrocities (Morrison 256). Because of this experience, Ella is able
to understand Sethe’s rage, but not her willingness to kill her children. Still,
because Ella thinks things through, she is able to have sympathy for Sethe
and her “dilemma,” particularly since the two women shared common bonds
related to rage and disgust with slavery’s raping of their lives. Ironically, then,
Ella, who considers love a disability, puts aside her disgust for Sethe’s act of
infanticide to show love and concern for Sethe’s plight. So when Denver
comes to her door, Ella does not hesitate to bring in the rest of the commu-
nity in exorcising Sethe’s vengeful child.

On this point, then, it is important to discuss how sexual exploitation of
black women helped set the foundation for Morrison’s neo-slave narrative. It
is this exploitation that leads to the unity of mothers needed by work’s end
to rid the town of the vengeful ghost. Sethe, Sethe’s mother, Baby Suggs,
and Ella are all part of these unified, whole, named and unnamed mothers
who had suffered the indignities of slavery’s phallus. So by work’s end it is
appropriate that a community of women come together to exorcise the de-
mon ghost. Their unity and power of prayer are powerful tools, symbols that
castrate the evil effects of slavery’s white phallus. Ironically, both young and
old breasts, long dried of mother’s milk, come together to nurse Sethe back to
sanity. These women help to cleanse and nourish not only Sethe but also her
other daughter, Denver. So despite their victimization, these mothers are able
to bring about constant renewal, rebirth, and cleansing, a function which is a
fitting end considering the many instances of sexual exploitation and animal-
istic treatment that these victimized women had to endure.

Sethe is reunited with Paul D, and in this reunion it becomes clear that
only “this woman Sethe could have left him his manhood like that. He wants
to put his story next to hers” (Morrison 273). With manhood restored, Paul D
no longer suffers from psychological and physical impotence. With Beloved’s
ghost gone, the memories of slavery’s horrors are gone, at least temporarily.
Now, with the circle completed, a black man and woman can come together
and truly satisfy each other. Sex is no longer just sex; it is an expression of love
that was denied in the chains of slavery. In other words, Sethe’s tree can now
truly represent growth and love. It is under these circumstances that feeling
can now return to Sethe’s deadened flesh, as Paul D becomes more secure in
his acceptance of her life. By work’s end, Paul D is man enough to hold those
breasts and gain the nourishment needed for a healthy coexistence with a
full-fledged woman.

Sexual imagery in Beloved takes many forms: sometimes beautiful,
sometimes pornographic. Against the backdrop of oppression, relationships
and sex between black men and women would, at times, be expressed through
rape and brutality. Through animal images and references to nature, Morrison

Page 230

Index 221

“To Take the Sin Out of Slicing
Trees,” 180

“Toward the Limits of Mystery,” 180
Traore, Ousseynou, 54
trauma studies, 109
trauma theory, 113
“Trouble in Mind” (song), 138
Tutuola, Amos, 50
Tyner, McCoy, 141, 143

Unclaimed Experience, 111
“Unspeakable Things Unspoken:

The Afro-American Presence in
American Literature,” 6, 173, 178,
187, 191

“Unwritten History of Slavery, The,”

“Verbal and Visual Metaphors:
Mythical Allusions in Yoruba
Ritualistic Art of Orí,” 68

“Violence and Metaphysics,” 154
Violet (character), 57
Virginia, 104
Vodun, 53

Walden, 30, 38
Walker, Alice, 31, 50
Wardi, Annisa Janine, 112
Washington, Elsie B., 60
Waugh, Patricia, 195
Wedding Guest (character), 114
Weisenburger, Steven, 154–155, 166
West, Cornell, 30, 42
West African

mythologies, 137
Whitlow, Jenny, see Baby Suggs
Winfrey, Oprah, 162
Wright, Richard, 25, 39
Wu, Yung-Hsing, 155
Wyatt, Jean, 99

Yemoja, 62
Yoruba, 49, 54, 59, 61–62, 65

cosmology, 51
mythologies, 137

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, 51
Zami, 54, 66
Žižek, Slavoj, 154

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