Jennifer Cassano April 1, 2012 Eng 21
Nature acts powerfully through the healing mechanisms of the body and mind to maintain and restore health. Toni Morrison makes no exeptions to this idea. In her novel Beloved, Toni Morrison uses trees to symbolize comfort, protection and peace. Morrison uses trees throughout Beloved to emphasize the serenity that the natural world offers. Many black characters refer to trees as offering healing and escape, therefor conveying Morrisons message that trees bring peace. Besides using the novel’s characters to convey her message, Morrison herself displays the good and calmness that trees represent in the tree imagery in her narraration. Maybe Morrison uses trees and the characters responses to them to show that when one lives through something as horrible as slavery, you may naturally find comfort in the simple aspects of life, such as nature, espesially trees.
As the trees represent escape and peace, Morrison uses her characters refer to their serenity and soothing nature as messages that only in mature could these oppressed people find comfort and escape from their unwanted thoughts. Throughout Beloved almost all of the characters find refuge in trees and nature, especially the main characters of Sethe and Paul D. During Sethe’s time in slavery, she saw many gruesome and horrible events, such as lynching and whipping of many blacks. However Sethe chooses to remember the sights of the sycamore trees over the sight of the tourtured blacks, this proving her comfort in the trees presense. “boys hanging from the most beautiful sycamore trees in the world, it shamed her, remember the wonderful soughing trees rather than the boys. Try as she might but the sycamores deat out the children every time and she could not forgive her memory for that” (6). Although Sethe wishes she would’ve remembered the boys, she probably rationalized this thought because when she asks Paul D about about news of Halle, she pictures sycamores instead of the possibility that Halle was lynched. Sethe states “ I wouldn’t have to ask about him would I? You’d tell me if there was something to tell, wouldn’t you? Sethe looked down at her feet and saw the sycamores” (8). When schoolteacher whipps Sethe, leaving her back leathery with scars, she refers to the scar as a chokecherry tree to soothe and lower the emotional pain that the scar represents. “ But thats what she said it looked like, A chokecherry tree. Trunk. Branches and even leaves” (16).
While Sethe thinks of trees to heal and calm her pain and sufferering, Paul D directly looks for physically real trees as his escape from everyday slave life. “the intimate connection, indeed the continuity, between Sethe's body and the tree suggest that they are made of the same fabric, and that what concerns the tree necessarily concerns human creatures”(Bonnent).
During Paul D’s time in slavery, he chose to love trees for their comfort and calm qualities. “trees were inviting; things you could trust and be near, talk to if you wanted to as frequently as he did since way back when he took the midday meal in the feilds of Sweet Home” (21). Because of these qualities, Paul D choose one particular tree, larger and more inviting than the others, to always return too. A tree which he named “brother”, he felt as though this tree comforted him and would always be there for him when nobody else was. “Brother” represents the comforting escape which Paul D never had prior. “His choice he called brother, and sat under it, alone sometimes. Sometimes with Halle or the other Pauls” (21). After a long day in working in the feilds, Paul D would rest, often times under the comforting presence of Brother Halle, the Pauls and Sixo. “He, Sixo and both of the Pauls sat under brother pouring water from a gourd over their heads”(27). Not only do the trees represent...
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