Sunday, April 14, 2013

Darkness is stronger and swallows them like minnows

I finished reading Beloved, and... *shudders.* It's not that it's badly written (it ain't), it's just very unlovable; and why wouldn't it be when it so aptly illustrates the horrors/consequences of slavery?

The inhabits of 124 (Sethe and her daughter Denver) are ever-accompanied by the ominous presence of Sethe's dead baby's (whose tombstone bears one word: Beloved) ghost until Paul D., an ex-slave who worked on the same plantation as Sethe, arrives, drives the ghost out, and settles down with Sethe. Everything is ominously okay until a black woman... named BELOVED.... mysteriously shows up on their doorstep one day. The moment she enters the home, she herself and her presence are as irremovable as a mile-deep root in soil. We eventually learn that Sethe tried to MURDER her children (succeeded in murdering 1) to free them from the horrors of slavery, and that Beloved is the ghost of this murdered child, the same ghost that haunted 124 before Paul D., the emblem of reality and anti-supernatural-elements in this novel, rid the house of it. Denver initially loves Beloved, partly because Beloved is the sister she never had; however, before dissipating (to Lord knows where?), Beloved almost kills Sethe, has sex with Paul D., and by the end, I'm sure, has pretty much freaked the shat out of/severed her arguably-never-was-existent bond with Denver, who evolves into a working woman, not the lonely child she was at the beginning of the book.

Toni Morrison whips this all out in a 324-page novel with fluid and masterful prose; Denver's character development is relieving to witness in the midst of all cray plot turns, Sethe's dedication to Beloved (compensation for killing her... *shudders again*) is haunting, and Beloved's silent eeriness is... terrifying.
Below are 2 quotes from this CHILLING story.
“Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all.”
“There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship's, smooths and contains the rocker. It's an inside kind--wrapped tight like skin. Then there is the loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive. On its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one's own feet going seem to come from a far-off place.”