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Beloved Essay (T. Morrison) -How the character's relationship to the past contributes

MellyLove 2 / 3  
Oct 22, 2011   #1
Hello! I have to write an essay for my AP Literature class. The essay is based on...DUNNN---BELOVED by Toni Morrison.

The topic and essay is below! This isn't a final draft, so I may have some grammatical errors here and there. I need feedback is all (constructive criticism is welcomed)! You may need to know: I'm rusty on transitions and I'm bad at writing a thesis statement (And I may not even have one...sadly I can't tell)

Thanks in advance!
(Also, I'm not sure why my indent do not show so I spaced)


Write an essay in which you show how the character's relationship to the past contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.

When one encounters a painful experience the natural response is to lock it away hoping that the memory will not resurface. However, though one believes the memory if gone, the memory subconsciously affects that person's actions. In the book Beloved by Ton Morrison, Sethe is a woman whose repressed traumatizing experiences negatively affect her present activities. Sethe's painful memories of the past serve as a way for Morrison to allow readers to put the pieces together and reinforce the idea that the past is present and still very much alive.

During a conversation with Paul D and Sethe, the memory of the schoolteacher's boys taking Sethe's milk was triggered. Though it happened quite some time from the present, the memory is still fresh and alive in Sethe's mind. The effects are seen in Sethe's connection with her daughter, Denver. Her childlike nature and Sethe's lack of connection with her puts a strain on their relationship. The reason for this leads back to Sethe's stolen milk; Morrison does not directly state the reason, but readers can infer that Sethe's ability to raise her children and provide the nourishment they needed was also taken from her. The memory of Sethe's stolen milk constantly looms around her and her actions cause a juxtaposition with the past and present-as she continued to suppress the past, the more it appears in her daily life.

Suppressing a painful memory can bring temporary relief. But once that relief subsides the emotions can feel as real as the moment they were experienced. For Sethe, guilt is an emotion tied with her act of infanticide. The vexed spirit of Beloved resides in 124 and serves as a constant reminder for Sethe of her past. Beloved also represents an aspect of Sethe's unforgiving past. Sethe is forced to deal with Beloved haunting her house until Paul D chases the spirit out. Once again, Sethe's past is repressed, but with the help of another person. While one believed that Beloved was gone for good, Morrison resurrects her, but this time as a person. This inevitably forces Sethe to neglect her present life with Denver and obsess over trying to appease the needs of the past in the form of Beloved. In doing so, Sethe does not face the past, but attempts to make up for what she did and attempts once again to suppress her past.

Sethe's memories of her past and present become so intertwined that she can't seem to tell the difference between the two. When Mr. Bodwin comes in a wagon to take Sethe to her first day of work, Sethe is instantly brought back to past and believes Mr. Bodwin is there to harm her. Though schoolteacher and Mr. Bodwin have different personalities, the fact that they're both white men scared Sethe. The memory of Sethe killing Beloved is reversed-instead of killing her children to save them, Sethe attempts to kill the one who she believes will harm her. Sethe relived the day she killed Beloved. Morrison's overall theme is once again illustrated-the past never truly dies. This past can also return with a vengeance if buried continually, as witnessed with Beloved.

Sethe's past was never truly dead; it was always around her, negatively affecting her daily life. Sethe's past was so traumatizing that she forced herself to repress it. When Sethe finally accepted and faced her past, a great weight was lifted off her shoulders. Sethe's past served as a way for Morrison to reinforce the idea that the repressed past was still very much alive, not only in Sethe's present life, but also in the lives of many Black Americans today.
tamarajones - / 2  
Oct 23, 2011   #2
here is your thesis statement."Sethe's painful memories of the past serve as a way for Morrison to allow readers to put the pieces together and reinforce the idea that the past is present and still very much alive."

An easy way to remember a thesis statement is to ask yourself ok what am I arguing here. Because a thesis statement is an argument.

also the last line of beloved really "this is not a story to pass on" is the final point that Morrison is trying make abut the past. you can interpret it as do not pass on this story to your children or do not miss the opportunity to recall the past and use it as a tool to move forward in a positive direction. If you don't know your history you are doomed to repeat it. Sethe's memories helped her to heal and reconcile with the past. She will be a better mother to Denver and a better mate for Paul.
OP MellyLove 2 / 3  
Oct 23, 2011   #3
Thank you, Tamara! You really helped :)

That helps, and I'll be sure to remember that tip when writing my thesis statement! I guess I get so caught up thinking it has to be complex and what not.

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