Trauma can be defined as: an occurrence so disturbing and painful it never seems to leave ones mind, leaving an emotional scar for life. There is an abundance of trauma within the pages of Beloved by Toni Morrison, but there are three specific instances that can be dissected and are extremely unique to the text in terms of language and what the author is conveying. These three instances are when Sethe is sexually assaulted by the teacher’s nephew, when Paul D almost drowns in the mud while in prison, and when Sethe kills Beloved to save her.
With regards to the first instance, it is the general view that no matter who you are being sexually assaulted would be a traumatic experience. Being violated in any place that is private to yourself has to be extremely harrowing and distressful. In Beloved, the first mention of this is ‘ “After I left you, those boys came in there and took my milk. That’s what they came in there for. Held me down and took it. I told Mrs. Garner on em. She had that lump and couldn’t speak but her eyes rolled out tears. Them boys found out I told em. School teacher made one open up my back and when it closed it made a tree. It grows there still. “ ‘ (Morrison, 20) This quote can be dissected and analyzed further if we take a look at it piece by piece. First, the phrase “took my milk” is actually a euphemism for the sexual assault she experienced. They held her down and then proceeded to perform sexual acts upon her that she does not go into further details about but does imply by the phrase “took my milk.” Then she goes on to explain her despair by telling Mrs. Garner, who is a good lady, but unfortunately can’t do anything since she’s so overcome with sickness she can’t talk. The boys then find out and therefore whip her making a “tree” appear on her back from all the switch marks. She mentions that it grows their still, not implying she still gets beat, but that the scar from the memory is still there and still deep within her hurting as...
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