Essay on “Beloved” by Toni Morris

“Beloved”: Looking For Identity

“Beloved” by Toni Morris is the bright example of how the soul can be destroyed when the person is not taking responsibility for his own actions and is dependable on others. I am talking about the slavery through which the person experiences emotional, physical and spiritual devastation that is not easy to eradicate and cope with even the person is freed. Devastation impacts not just the present life, but also greatly diminishes the possibility of the happy free future. The influence of slavery upon personality and perception of self is truly tremendous, and multiple examples from the book just support and prove this claim. “A man ain’t nothing but a man. But a son? Well, now, that’s somebody”(23).

Slaves are people. They are people of the same sort that their masters are. They have the same feelings, experiences, hopes and beliefs. The only difference is social roles they have to perform. Slaves were not considered to be humans; they were more “subhumans” and were treated like staff or commodities. Many of them were born in slavery and therefore they never felt how it is like to be independent and to live a real life. They never experienced other kind of treatment and no one would teach them how to live when they are set free. Slaves cannot understand themselves, their true wishes and beliefs, they became alienated from themselves.

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In such a manner, Paul D reached such extent of alienation that he could not distinguish whether the screaming that he heard was of his own or of another person. Paul D also very anxious and felt uncomfortable about whether he would ever become the real person, the real man, and he was constantly thinking about his value as the person. This is just the sign that his identity was severely destroyed and he forgot that he is a human being, who is priceless and free in his decisions, dreams, actions and hopes.

Slaves did not believe in their own existence, they easily became tired and depressed. For instance, Paul D even developed the protection strategy from emotional pain he could not endure any more, and then he decided that he would never love anyone or anything with his all his heart. But the ability to love intensively is one of the greatest gifts to the human-beings, which brings happiness, joy and energy to stand to the hardships. We are nothing without love in our hearts.

Women slaves experienced even more hardships in their lives, as they were denying their opportunities to become loving mothers, faithful wives and sisters with the sense of compassion. The woman in slavery is not able to give all her love to her children and raise them true stable identities, not because they are bad or empty inside and do not care, but because they do not know how to do that. They do not have enough strengths and energy to love, teach, explain and support. Therefore, slave children start the new circle of self-alienated people who are not able to live independently, feel themselves equal members of the society and enjoy all possible joys of life, as they consider they do not have right to do that.

Paul D was sharing his thoughts and memories with Sethe. But he was still afraid to open his soul too much. It is obvious that they both tried to avoid talks about their past, it hurt them so much. They tried to be alienated from their past, from their emotions; they rejected it, but by that rejection they deprived themselves the possibility to cure and be happier in present and future.

From the first sight, Sethe appears to be very independent woman who loves her children most in the world, and she never knew her own mother and never felt mother’s love and care. “To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay. The ‘better life’ she believed she and Denver were living was simply not that other one.”(42) But her love is more an obsession then the true feeling, as she tried to kill her children in order to save them from all traumas of life in slavery. She cannot talk, but the decision was simple to her. All her personality is reduced to basic instincts. Sethe defined children as the best part of herself, and she associated them greatly with herself and therefore she was destroying the only good that was inside. She didn’t allow schoolteacher to take her children; she preferred to murder her daughter. Though it is impossible to find the answer in book whether Sethe was guilty, but I must say that we were not there, and we are not to judge what was done.

In the conclusion I would like to summarize that identity should be in each person. It is difficult to find it when the person is free, and for slave it is almost impossible. Slavery destroyed identity and any hopes for its revelation. Slaves are becoming self-alienated, they refuse to listen to their inner experiences and prefer just to forget, but there is still no future even when they are set free, as their identity is destroyed, they do not know who they are, what to do, what to feel and what to believe. Seth, Paul D, Baby Suggs, Denver and others are all the same- they are lost. But what is important is that white masters experience the same identity destruction. They practice domination, which ruins their souls; they lack compassion, without which their lives would ever be truly happy.

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