Thesis: The growth of Sethe and Denver is due to the rebirth of Beloved and this particularly alludes to the Bible, which stands beside with the epigraph and to the meaning of the title of the novel.
Question: Consider the biblical epigraph at the beginning of the novel. What is the relationship to the title of the book?
Epigraphs are like the appetizers to the great entrée, which is the story. It sets our minds in a specific direction to understand the moral of the story or it could be a direct comparison to the meaning the title of a story. Whichever case it is, the objective is not always so clear but it helps illuminate our minds to the meaning that the author is trying to state. In this novel, Toni Morrison uses the epigraphs to set an indirect comparison with the Bible to explain an essential process that takes place in the lives of Sethe and Denver: a process in which they grow stronger, get forgiveness and accomplish to move forward with their lives after so many years of “slavery” and isolation. Therefore, it is essentially necessary to inquire into history to understand the epigraph itself. “I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.” Romans 9:25
In the biblical history, this verse states the rejection of the Jews and the calling of the Gentiles, and the apostle Paul is expressing his concern and affection for his people. The Jews were by heritage the people of God chosen by him but the gentiles were not and that is where the Apostle Paul’s role comes in. Paul refers to the idea that God has always loved Gentiles (non-Jews) and Jews alike. The passage shows God’s mercy and that his judgment would not be forever. Israel shall be restored and forgiven and will be called the sons of God. He was guided by the Holy Spirit to make the gentiles also the people of God and called to be his people in Christ. Morrison may be suggesting that God's love is not just for Gentiles and Jews but also for the “sixty million and more” to which she dedicated her novel. The dedication goes directly to the slaves that were killed or that died in hands of their traders or owners, which also recalls that there were more slaves killed than Jews in World War II.
The fact that a very strong woman, who survived a traumatic escape from slavery, has killed her own daughter in a mad attempt to protect her from the man who tortured her for many years is enough to consider it the novel‘s conflict. Her mother instinct, which is contradictory since she lived a life aside from her mother, kept her from realizing that she could have taken all that anger and fear as strength and as a motive to take away the life that tortured her instead of her baby’s life. Morrison raises the interrogative to believe that whether this horrible event could be forgiven and understood by accepting Sethe’s history of violence, torture and suffering. She wanted us state whether if it is possible for her to be restored from that guilt and forgiven by her own people, and kids, for such horrible action. That intention also implies that black people can or will be restored, that they will also be called: “my people” either for God or for all humankind.
The epigraph in this novel and the relation with the title hold forth the presence of Christian beliefs. Starting with the mention of the “four horsemen” who come for Sethe is acknowledging the Apocalypse. Morrison constantly alludes to the biblical beliefs and traditions. For example, when Denver drinks her sister’s blood along with her mother’s breast milk it can be associated as an act of communion and that connects the title to that fact that a beloved son also had to give his life for his people as a sacrifice. Beloved, her daughter, maybe died from her mother’s wrong judgment in an act of desperation but is not the death but the resurrection, which is important for us. The baby’s resurrection or reincarnation, like that of Christ, brings salvation to...
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