Baby Suggs’ Ministry in the Clearing Has Been Described as a Healing Ritual. What Do You Understand by This Term and Discuss How It Applies to Suggs’ Words and Actions?

Topics: Infant, Delphi, Heart Pages: 2 (724 words) Published: October 12, 2008
The symbolic healing caress, a convention that recalls the tradition of medieval kings who placed a ritual touch on the sick is represented in this passage. The touch of blessing permeates the story - from Amy’s gentle massage and makeshift bandage for Sethe’s feet to Baby Suggs’s compassionate, methodical washing of Sethe’s body, quadrant by quadrant; from Paul D’s blessing of Sethe’s hideous tree-like scar to his loving return to Sethe’s bedside to anoint her feet and accept her for the powerful woman she once was and still can be. The motif grows more focused on womanhood through the use of myriad breast images, which connect suckling with the maternal will to raise healthy, whole and safe babies, whatever the cost. By extension, Baby Suggs offers a spiritual caress to the worshippers who surround her miniature Sermon on the Mount in the clearing. Her message restores their sense of self-worth by urging them to love their physical bodies, which have been so discounted by slavery that, like Paul D, they have confronted themselves in terms of value.

Morrison also blends several religious conventions in this chapter. Like Pythia, Apollo's priestess in ancient Delphi, "Baby Suggs, holy" sat in her shrine - the Clearing - and, without training, responded intuitively to the spiritual needs of all comers. Her Christ-like message, "Let the children come," emulates Mark 10:14, "Suffer the little children to come unto me." Reaching out to men and women as well, Baby Suggs bid the children to laugh, the men to dance, and the women to cry. The throng, mixing their roles in a symphony of laughter, dance, and sobs, responded to Baby Suggs's "great big heart."

An example of Baby Suggs’ ‘healing ceremony’, Sethe follows the advice of her to deal with her past and "lay it all down." Before Paul D's arrival, she was satisfied to live with the memories of faces of Howard and Buglar and to keep her husband in mind somewhere out there. Now, because of Paul D’s revelation,...
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