Essay: Beloved by Toni Morrison

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This essay discusses Beloved written by Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison is realistic in her portrayal of both whites and blacks. Sethe’s black neighbors, for example, have their own envy and scapegoat tendencies to answer for, and Paul D., though much kinder than, has his own limitations and flaws.

Toni Morrison is realistic in her portrayal of both whites and blacks. Sethe’s black neighbors, for example, have their own envy and scapegoat tendencies to answer for, and Paul D., though much kinder than, has his own limitations and flaws. But then, considering what he’s been through, it’s a wonder he isn’t a mass assassin. If anything, he’s a little too huggable, under the circumstances.

Rather than confining white violence to the margins, as she does in her earlier works, in Beloved Morrison concentrates on exposing the atrocities of slavery as the origin of violence within the community around 124. Beloved’s desire to return to origins traps both community and text in cycles of repetition and reciprocal violence. Beloved returns four centuries into the history of Africans in America to expose slavery as a primary source of violence within contemporary African American communities. By focusing on the horrors of slavery, Morrison offers a reenactment of original violence that frees the community from reciprocal violence and the narrative from a crisis of difference and deferral.

Once begun, this community crisis manifests itself in a loss of distinctions among community members. Girard writes that the sacrificial crisis is characterized by a loss of individuality and identity “that gives birth to fierce rivalries and sets members of the same family or social group at one another’s throats” (Girard 49).

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