Olivia McNeely Pass evaluates Toni Morrison’s Beloved as one in which the main character goes through Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief. Pass iterates that in denying the evil of the ghost (and in turn Beloved’s death), Sethe takes part in the first stage of Kübler-Ross’ model (118). When Beloved literally and metaphorically begins to strangle the life out of Sethe, she finally reaches the second stage, anger, and even reprimands Beloved for the first time (122). This anger quickly leads Sethe into the bargaining stage because she is not fully aware that Beloved is actually her child (121). Morrisons also uses literary devices to symbolize the stages; Pass comments that her use of metaphor “clearly exemplifies the bargaining position which Sethe occupies” (121). Additionally, she regards Paul D as the catalyst for Sethe reaching the fourth stage, depression, when he discovers that she killed Beloved and notes that only during this stage does Sethe “consciously acknowledge who Beloved truly is” (122). Furthermore, once Denver realizes that she needs to protect her mother from Beloved and asks Ella for help, “it is the community who comes to deliver Sethe from her demon grief and that lays the groundwork so that Sethe is able to achieve acceptance” (123). Pass illuminates an insightful reading of Morrison’s novel, clearly interpreting Beloved as a story of grief which follows the Kübler-Ross model. Her deep understanding of the process allows for a gripping commentary. Pass effectively summarizes the grieving process and explicates Morrison’s novel as she follows Sethe through the various stages. She also successfully employs other analyses of the novel to support her own conclusions.
Pass, Olivia McNeely. “Toni Morrison's Beloved: A Journey through the Pain of Grief.” Journal of Medical Humanities 27.2 (Summer 2006): 117-124.