23 November 2011
The Pain and Benefits of Memory
In life there is mostly only one thing that reminds you of the past and that is your memory. Memories come in many varieties: happy, sad, and painful. These memories help us remember what was and how our lives have changed. In the 1987 publication Beloved, written by Toni Morrison, a family struggles with the spirit and human form of the dead daughter of the protagonist Sethe. She is experiencing memories that trigger every painful event her and the other characters have gone through throughout their lives. Sethe, was a slave at a plantation called Sweet Home and it brought her pain that she and her friend Paul D had no intentions on bring back up until Beloved comes back from the unknown and makes the two remember all the things they tried so hard to forget. Memory plays a huge role in the novel, it eventually changes who the characters “thought” they were. In the novel memories extracts emotions, actions, and thoughts. Memory made the characters feel things they forgot they could feel, but it also made them feel feelings they didn’t want to feel either. When the novel begins it talks of how Sethe tries to remember as little as she can about the hideous place she ran away from. With her lack of wanting to remember her past it has her memory of her sons Howard and Buglar fading fast. Within that same chapter she says “Boys hanging from the most beautiful sycamores in the world. It shamed her---remembering the wonderful soughing trees rather than the boys” (Morrison 9). The fact of Sethe not being able to remember much about her sons pained her. (A loss of visual memory causes a general amnesia). Sethe says "work[s] hard to remember as close to nothing as was safe" (Morrison 8).
Although Sethe tries to forget the painful memory of Sweet Home, it consumes her and keeps her from living her life to its full potential. "Her brain was not interested in the future....