What Is the Relationship Between Sacrifice and Selfishness as Demonstrated in Toni Morrison’s Beloved?
Sethe’s role is to be passive: produce flesh, produce milk, but whatever you do, do not love. Tie up your child, work, and then watch as others take your compliance as evidence that you were never really human at all.In his introduction to The Folio Society’s beautifully illustrated reissue of the novel, Russell Banks describes the work as “a story about family life and love, and how, in a social and economic universe designed explicitly to destroy them, they endure.” They endure, but in a haunted, distorted form, an echo of the 28 days during which Sethe can enjoy her children before they are hunted down. Twenty eight days marks the distance between an act of nurturance and one of murder; “the travel of one whole moon […] from the pure clear stream of spit that the little girl dribbled into her face to her oily blood.
But the author is making a comment on the hopelessness that faced the slaves, and the extent to which they were liable to react. The incident of Sethe killing her daughter is put forward as emblematic of the cruelty of slavery. But whatever the reality of it, it is in the past. The message of the novel is that the past must be confronted and laid to rest.
Smiley on Rewriting Shakespeare.” Flyway: A Literary Review. 5.1-5.2 (Fall 1999/ Winter 2000): 143-67. Print.
Strehle, Susan. "The Daughter's Subversion in Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 41.3 (Spring 2000): 211-26. Academic OneFile. Gale. Web. 10 Dec. 2008.
Taylor-Guthrie, Danille. Conversations with Toni Morrison. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994. Print