How Far


How Far Essay, Research Paper

Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) was her fifth novel, and consequently the most controversial work she had ever written. Morrison was working as a senior editor at the publishing firm Random House when she was editing a nineteenth century article which was in a historical book and found the basis for this story. A direct connection between Morrison and this novel is best demonstrated by Morrison’s statement of ” I deal with five years of terror in a pathological society, living in a bedlam where nothing makes sense”. This novel is set during the mid-nineteenth century and reveals the pain and suffrage of being a slave before and after emancipation through deeply symbolic delineations of continued emotional and psychological suffrage.

Stanley Crouch stated ” For Beloved, above all else, is a blackface

holocaust novel” (38-43). He believed that by including sadistic guards,

murder, separation of family members, a big war, failed and successful

escapes, and losses of loved ones to the violence of the mad order,

Morrison was attempting to enter American slavery into the martyr ranks of

the Nazi’s abuse of the Jews (Crouch 38-43). Also, Crouch stated, ” she

lacks a true sense of the tragic” (38-43). He supported this by stating ”

it shows no sense of the timeless and unpredictable manifestations of evil

that preceded and followed American slavery” (Crouch 38-43).

However, Crouch realizes that Morrison has real talent, in that he

believes she has the ability to organize her novel in a musical structure

by using images as motifs. He also felt that the characters in the novel

served no purpose other than to deliver a message. Crouch believed that

Morrison did not want her readers to experience the horrors of slavery that

others did, but rather just to tally up the sins that were committed

against the darker people and feel sorry for them. Furthermore, he

presumed that this novel was designed to make sure that the view of the

black woman being the most scorned and rebuked of the victims of society,

doesn’t weaken.

According to Ann Snitow, ” she harps so on the presence of Beloved,

sometimes neglecting the mental life of her other characters” (pp. 25-26).

She believed that by sacrificing the other character’s vitality until the

very end, the novel is left hollow in the middle. However, Snitow did

state ” If Beloved fails in it’s ambitions, it is still a novel by Toni

Morrison, still therefore full of beautiful prose, dialogue as rhythmically

satisfying as music and scenes so clearly etched they’re like

hallucinations” (25-26). Snitow compares Morrison’s writing style to

Dickens, in that she believes that each of them are great, serious writers.

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