The Loss and Rebirth of Motherhood
—The Interpretation of Sethe’s Motherhood in Beloved (Toni Morrison) Beloved, written by Toni Morrison, plays an important role in the history of American literature. This book discusses the main character Sethe, who does an understandable action but makes people hard to accept it in that social community. She loses motherhood and herself; however, under the help from black compatriots, she gets out from the haze in her heart, regains her life and finds the regressed motherhood finally. The story happens during 1873, after the American Civil War. Through Beloved, Toni Morrison shows the situation of black community in America under the later slavery and the period during the reconstruction of United States in the nineteenth century. Morrison got the ideas of Beloved when she saw a terrifying report from history resources: On January 1856, Margaret Garner, a black female slave escapes with her daughter (Mervyn Rothstein); and “when the marshals found Margaret in a back room, she had slit her two year old daughter’s throat with a butcher knife, killing her” (Casey Nichols). Morrison makes Margaret reborn as Sethe in Beloved. Sethe kills her daughter like Margaret did in the real life; however, not only strong love makes her do the crazy action, but also the horrible memories, religion traditions and lacking of family love take effect on her. Sethe, as a slave, can love her children only, so she would do everything to protect them; indeed, she kills her little daughter with butcher knife when the marshals come to get her. After Sethe escapes from the life of slavery, she finally knows the feeling of freedom. She indicates “all I’m saying is that’s a selfish pleasure I never had before” (Morrison 192) when she wants to make a beautiful flower with fabric to give to her daughter. Obviously, raising her child satisfied her selfish motherhood because she finally can have someone that really belongs to her, loves her and...
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