Inspired by the true story of Margret Garner, Beloved follows the life of Sethe, an African- American woman who manages to escape slavery and move to the free state of Ohio. Although the novel is primarily set in 1873, after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, one of the most interesting things about it is the constant ashbacks to Sethe’s life and the shocking abuse she and her fellow slaves were forced to endure.
Morrison continuously describes the exploitation of the slaves on the ‘Sweet Home’ plantation, with explicit details of their treatment that create a powerful and long-standing impression on her readers.
In an interview, Morrison talks about her motivation for writing and why she purposely does not spare any details when it comes to describing the racism and slavery in Beloved. She believes that for years, literature has barely touched American exploitation. Morrison says that ‘no one is going to remember that it wasn’t always beautiful’.
A key character within the novel is Denver, Sethe’s daughter. The reader is shown that ‘Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined’. although slavery is illegal whilst Denver is growing up, racism heavily existed in their society, causing even innocent children hardship. Beloved also pays tribute to the psychological e ects that freed slaves had to endure.
The dreadful things that happened to Sethe, and the awful acts she committed during her time as a slave, quite literally come back to haunt family in the form of a woman named Beloved. Morrison captivates her readers by toying with the boundary between psychological and supernatural.
The novel follows the lives and history of four major characters, Sethe, Denver, Paul D, and Beloved, all whose lives have felt both the rst and second-hand e ects of slavery. Beloved is a piece that encompasses the devastating impact that slavery had on its victims, their families, and the importance of family and community.
In 1988, Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which comes as no surprise, as it’s use of experimental text, harrowing imagery, and captivating characters is brilliantly executed. Beloved is a dramatic novel that emphasises the disturbing nature of racism, whilst paying tribute to the ‘Sixty million and more’ victims of slavery. Toni Morrison is a spectacular author, and this is undoubtedly BHM demonstrated in Beloved.