Toni Morrison's Beloved

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Throughout Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, there are many obvious themes and symbols. The story deals with slavery and the effects that the horrifying treatment of the slaves has on a community. Another major theme, apparent throughout the story, is the supernatural. The notion of haunting is very evident since the characters are not only haunted by Beloved at 124, but are also haunted by their past. The story of Beloved is not only about freeing oneself of a ghost, but also about releasing one’s hold on what happened in the past. Sethe is the most severely haunted throughout the book, both by her past and by Beloved. Her past haunts her with what happened to her and what she did. She was beaten so badly that her back has a permanent blossoming scar, one that she calls "A chokecherry tree. Trunk, branches, and even leaves. Tiny little chokecherry leaves. But that was eighteen years ago. Could have cherries too now for all I know" (pg 16). The great significance of the scar on her back is that it is just one more thing she cannot see, but knows it is always there, similar to her past. Also, the line "Could have cherries too now for all I know" shows that she understands how she is not only stuck with her past, but that it is growing and affecting her in many different ways. The story revolves around the haunting of 124. Beloved's presence is apparent to Sethe, Baby Suggs and Denver, and they live with it for some time. It is not until the day that Paul D steps into the house that things change. He wastes little time in antagonizing the spirit to leave. "God damn it! Hush up! ... Leave the place alone! Get the Hell out!" (18). The spirit leaves, much to Paul D's delight. This may have occurred because Paul D is not only a figure from Sethe's past, but is also the first man to enter 124. Beloved is able to play off of Sethe's own haunting, that of her past, to get what she wants. Sethe's judgment was blurred as she focused primarily on the daughter she had murdered...
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