Beloved is the tale of an escaped slave, Sethe, who is trying to achieve true freedom. Unfortunately, though she is no longer in servitude to a master, she is chained to her "hainted" past. Morrison effectively depicts the shattered lives of Sethe, her family, fellow former slaves, and the community through a unique writing style. The narrative does not follow a traditional, linear plot line. The reader discovers the story of Sethe through fragments from the past and present that Morrison reveals and intertwines in a variety of ways. The novel is like a puzzle of many pieces that the reader must put together to form a full picture. Through this style, which serves as a metaphor for the broken lives of her characters, Morrison successfully conveys the horrors of slavery and the power of a community.
One of Morrison's techniques is to relate the story of Beloved from several different points of view. Most of the book is told from third-person omniscient, with the viewpoint character constantly changing. For example, in chapter three the perspective switches even during a flashback. At first, the story is told from Sethe's viewpoint. "Down in the grass, like the snake she believed she was, Sethe opened her mouth, and instead of fangs and a split tongue, out shot the truth" (39). Then the narrative changes to the perspective of Amy Denver, who helps Sethe escape when she is pregnant. "The girl moved her eyes slowly, examining the greenery around her. Thought there'd be huckleberries. Look like it. That's why I come up in here. Didn't expect to find no nigger woman'" (39). Every character in the book, dead included, tells part of the story. In chapter sixteen, the point of view switches to four white men, and Morrison shows the vicious bias towards blacks. "You could tell he was crazy right off because he was gruntingmaking low, cat noises like. About twelve yards beyond that nigger was another onea woman with a flower in her hat....
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