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Essay/Term paper: Beloved

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Social Issues

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In the Novel Beloved, by Toni Morrison unmasks the horrors of slavery, and
depicts its aftermath on African Americans. The story is perfect for all who did
not experience nor could imagine how it was to be an African American in America
circa the 1860's. Beloved lends a gateway to understanding the trials and
tribulations of the modern African American. The Novel has many things that
occur that are very striking, most of which have to deal with the treatment of
the African Americans. The book as a whole is very disturbing, and even shows to
what lengths 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 when she attempts to kill her children. The main character ,
Sethe, is not willing to let her children end up re-enslaved and would rather
see them dead and in Heaven then in an earthly hell of being slaves. I believe
that from 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
humanly then the average slave ever was. The life that the children would of
lived would of been one of complete servitude, they would of never of 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, so based
on this I believe that Sethe was justified in killing her children and
preventing them from becoming enslaved.

The fact that the slaves where treated like animals, and where 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 where 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 cubbie 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 at the
same time seemed very weird. The white men considered the African Americans to
be animals, yet they still made them perform oral sex on them. This was quite
possibly the most bothersome and abhorrent item that occurred to the slaves in
the book.

The treatment of the slaves has a lot to do with current African Americans and
the many items they face. In the book, there is no such thing as a family, the
slaves can not 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 can not protect the people they love from others. This goes back to the
roots of slavery to the fact that families where split up and the slaves had not
control, and thus 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 affect
this had on an entire race of people and their development in the U.S.


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