Beloved by Toni Morrison: Introduction

Beloved was first published by Toni Morrison in 1987, and the next edition was later published in 1997. This novel is dedicated to the sixty million and more Africans who died in the Middle Passage on the slave ship of America. This very novel won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988 despite some controversies.

Toni Morrison (Born in1931)

Toni Morrison based her novels on real life happenings. In Beloved, Morrison depicts the pain and the pang of slavery and its aftermath. The novel was set in the time of history of America where the civil war has just ended and the situation of the blacks, whether slave or free, was still worse. The fugitive slave act of 1850 guarantees the escaped slave as property and they could be taken by the former masters. Toni Morrison vehemently criticizes the formation of this law. 

Sethe, who was a slave before the civil war is now free only in terms of physical, but she is still bound with the slavery, her past. Sethe, the leading female character of the novel, runs away from her master’s home, is recaptured, and to save her children from the severity of slavery, she killed her eldest daughter. The ghost of that daughter comes back to Sethe after nearly twenty years. The ghost daughter was dissatisfied for her killing and asked for the reason. Sethe has to compensate for the deed she did years ago. She cannot convince her ghost daughter that death was far better than to live in slavery. She was ready to sacrifice anything to compensate for her daughter who missed her childhood, motherly love and most importantly the chance to live.

Beloved deals with the themes of love, family, self-possession, slavery, and the cruelty of whites. Beloved can be taken as a part of history of blacks, a part of a ghost story, and an American –African novel, a novel for feminism, a political novel and a novel for humanity. The history of black was unrecorded, thus, forgotten. So she takes an account of a black lady who was black, a woman, a mother and most importantly a human being. But she loses all her identities and just remains as a commodity and a sex object in the hand of her white master. The novel strongly presents the agony of a woman to be a mother and who cannot show her motherly love to her kids in the fear of slavery.

The narrative of this novel is third person narration, thus, an omniscient point of view. As the narrator is omniscient, he can read the mind of all characters and the narrative shifts from section to section. Morrison has used a technique of flashback to relate the present situation. The whole narration moves around the black's social, economic, political, physical, personal, communal and spiritual aspects under which the entire novel or the entire narrative of Toni Morrison is rolling. One can get the actual vision of the black culture and their reality by seeing the narrative technique of Toni Morrison.