Beloved Essay Question #2 Beloved, by Toni Morrison is a book based on slave narratives that were written during or after the Civil War by slaves. Slave narratives never really told all of the details that occurred with the cruel treatment of slaves. In this book Morrison has removed the layer of silence that was upheld in slave narratives, and bares all of the ugly details of slave life for all to read. In Beloved, through flashbacks and present events we found out of a slave ranch called Sweet Home , run by a man named Garner. At Sweet Home the male slaves have guns and are referred to as men. The woman slave is not passed around as a sex object, but instead is able to raise a family with the same husband. At the ranch there are five male slaves, Paul D., Paul A., Paul F., Halle Suggs, and Sixo. Halle s mother Baby Suggs, use to work in the house but Mr. Garner let Halle buy his mother s freedom. Now Sethe is the new female slave that works in the house. Halle and Sethe marry and have three kids with one on the way. Mr. Garner dies and the ranch is taken over by a mean man schoolteacher. An escape is planned, but things go wrong. Sixo is killed, Paul A. is hung, and Paul D. is captured, shackled and sold. Sethe gets her babies off, but can t find Halle. She goes to find him and is mammary-raped. She does not know but Halle watched it happen and could not do anything about it. She finally gets away after a beating and leaves Sweet Home without Halle. She gets to the house in Cincinnati where Baby Suggs is with Sethe s children, with the help of a man named Stamp Paid. After 28 days of freedom schoolteacher comes to collect Sethe. She is afraid that her babies will have to live a life of slavery, so instead she decides to kill her babies and herself. She only succeeds in killing one of them.Years later, Sethe is living alone in that same house with her daughter Denver. Her two other children left out of fear, Baby Suggs died, Halle is nowhere to be found, and the ghost of the baby she killed haunts her house. Paul D. and Stamp Paid are two of the main male characters in the book that I feel have been shaped by their experiences as slaves.After being sold, Paul D. tried to kill his owner and is held in a prison until he escapes. After escaping, Paul roams around in search of something Move. Walk. Run. Hide. Steal and move on. Only once had it been possible for him to stay in one spot for longer than a few months (p.66). I think the reason that he was always moving was that he was looking for something. I believe that something was his manhood. While at Sweet Home, Garner always referred to them as men, but when schoolteacher took over, they were demoted; not down to slaves but further, to animals. Schoolteacher took First his shotgun, then his thoughts, for he didn t take advice from Negroes (p. 220). Paul realized that he was a slave, and Garner was the only reason that he felt like a man. Everything rested on Garner being alive. Without his life each of theirs fell to pieces (p.220).Since Paul never had a father to teach him what a man was and he found that outside of Sweet Home he was just a slave, he began to search for his manhood. I believe Paul came to the conclusion that manhood was loving, a wife, and a family. On his travels when he met up with families and their generations he watched them with awe and envy and made them identify over and over who each was, what relation, who, in fact, belonged to who (p.219). During his travels he was searching for love, and family which would give him manhood. He always believed that Halle and Sixo had their manhood because they had love. Sixo had the Thirty-Mile Woman, and Halle had Sethe and a family. Sixo, and Halle; it was always clear to Paul D. that those two were men whether Garner said so or not (p.220).
In the end Paul D. finally finds his manhood in Sethe. Paul D. remembers Sixo trying to describe what he felt about the Thirty-Mile Woman. She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order (276-273). He then remembers during the escape when he was caught and shackled. Sethe came in and didn t look at the collar or shackles he was wearing. Only this woman Sethe could have left him his manhood like that (p. 273). He realizes that Sethe is the woman that gives him his manhood. The past that they have shared lets them understand each other. They both have had horrible experiences, but they can still look each other in the eye. Stamp Paid is the man that helped Sethe, and many other slaves into freedom. In his current status, Stamp is a slave rescuer. I think this role he plays has a lot to do with his past experiences as a slave. It all goes back to Stamp s real name, Joshua, and why he changed it. Stamp was married to a girl named Vashti. Their slave owner was using her for sex and Joshua could do nothing about it. It went on for a whole year and Joshua wanted to kill him, but Vashti said no. The last day it happened Vashti told Joshua that she was back. In one part he says, “I looked at the back of her neck. She had a real small neck. I decided to break it .I been low but that was as low as I ever got (p.233). He ended up not breaking her neck and instead changed his name. In one part Stamp says that he changed his name because he had paid enough with his wife. That was the worst thing that he had felt. I think this is probably one of the reasons that Stamp is a slave rescuer. I believe that he feels he could not rescue his wife, so he now puts his energy into saving others. For example, the dead little girls hair ribbon that he carries in his pocket. I think this ribbon symbolizes the slaves that he could not save. I related the little girls ribbon to the black ribbon that his ex-slave owner gave Vashti. Both of these people he could not save, and the memory of them keeps him protecting other slaves. Like when he was talking to Paul D. on the steps of the church, fingering the ribbon, and a man came up asking about a Judy and Paul D. puts the ribbon back in his pocket before responding to the mans verbal acknowledgment. It was as if he needed to put it away as to protect someone s identity. Then when the man asked him if he knew a Judy, he replied that he didn t. Later when the man was gone Paul D. asked, You know Judy? Stamp replied, Judith? I know everybody (p.232).Both of these men have a certain quality about them that makes their values different from the women in the book. Both of these men had hard lives with harsh experiences, but they continue to deal with the past, as harsh as it may be, and live in the future. They may lock their bad memories in a tobacco tin, like Paul D. for example, or not tell many people about them, like Stamp, but they do not repress them. The women either forgot their memories (Sethe), didn t have a past (Beloved), or didn t want to remember it (Denver). In not repressing their memories of the past the men remember their good memories too. I think this is an essential part of their being, because if you can remember some good things that have happened to you, then you are probably more of a well-balanced person than someone who only remembers a bad past. Paul D. and Stamp used their memories to construct a better future for themselves, to build on their lives. I think Paul D. summed it up best when he said to Sethe, me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow (p.273). He meant that they both have had difficult pasts, and now knowing both of their stories, they should build a new and better future for themselves, together.