In the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison, the horrors of slavery are unmasked and its aftermath on African Americans is depicted.
The story is perfect for those who have not experienced nor can imagine what it was like to be an African American in America circa the 1860s. Beloved provides a gateway to understanding the trials and tribulations of modern African Americans. The novel contains many striking events, most of which deal with the mistreatment of African Americans. The book as a whole is very disturbing and shows the lengths to which African Americans were willing to go to avoid enslavement of themselves or their children. In the novel, the most extreme case of someone avoiding enslavement comes from the main character, Sethe, when she attempts to kill her children. Sethe is not willing to let her children end up re-enslaved and would rather see them dead and in Heaven than in an earthly hell of being slaves.
I believe that Sethe was justified in her actions. Slavery is a very harsh and horrible way to live, and living in chains and without freedom is not living as a human should. Slavery degraded African Americans from humans to that of animals. They were not treated with any respect or proper care. Even modern-day criminals, those that have murdered large numbers of people, are treated more humanely than the average slave ever was.
The life that the children would have lived would have been one of complete servitude. They would have never known what it was like to live on their own and make their own decisions. This all goes back to the fact that they would never be human or treated as humans. Based on this, I believe that Sethe was justified in killing her children and preventing them from becoming enslaved. The fact that the slaves were treated like animals and traded and sold like cattle is well depicted in the book. This did not actually shock me. The items in the book that shocked me had to do with the living conditions and punishments that the men were put through. What I am referring to, in particular, are the living conditions at the work camp in Georgia.
The fact that the men were in little cubby holes in a trench in the ground is very disturbing. The fact that when it rained, They squatted in muddy water, slept above it, peed in it” (110) was very shocking and unpleasant to me. The other thing that was really disturbing at the same camp was the breakfast. This was disgusting and seemed very weird.
The white men considered African Americans to be animals, yet they still made them perform oral sex on them. This was possibly the most abhorrent item that occurred to the slaves in the book. The treatment of the slaves has a lot to do with current issues faced by African Americans. In the book, there is no such thing as a family. The slaves cannot be married, nor are they allowed to be “mothers” or “fathers” to their children.
This carries over to modern America in that some African Americans still have problems with family structure, and slavery can be held accountable for this. Another reason this book is helpful is that it explains why African Americans attempt to remove themselves from making close bonds with family. As Professor Jordan said, they have to make fun of moms and learn that they cannot protect the people they love from others. This goes back to the roots of slavery, to the fact that families were split up, and the slaves had no control. Thus, they could not protect the ones that they loved. To prevent themselves from being hurt by this, they learned a way to form a protective barrier against it, and that barrier is not to get close or expect to be able to protect the ones you love. The book Beloved has many key points about slavery and brings to light many things that are not well known.
The book helps to show the roots of African Americans and how those roots still affect their lives today. This helps the reader to better understand African Americans and how they relate to their past. It also brings to light the many cruelties inherent in slavery and the effect this had on an entire race of people and their development in the U.S.