[RGC 21.] Beloved by Toni Morrison

[read: a standing ovation]


» Must haves: a ballpoint pen. If you’re like me and hadn’t read Morrison before this book, pick up your pen and write your way through to make sense of it. You won’t want to miss a thing. » Pairs well with: the movie, yes with Oprah in it. It’s a good follow-up to the story and helps discern what you like and understand from what you can see on the screen. A lot of it makes sense when pictured through another person’s brain and artistry too, and then feel free to revisit Morrison’s words right after watching the film.

More throwback books are coming back in my college career. We’re reading Beloved for my Morrison & Wideman (look him up!) intensive. I also read it back in high school, where we consequently watched the movie and I am still a little scarred by the scary metaphorical imagery of slave narrative coming to life through Oprah’s character. I respect it, but I was 16 at the time and it’s still scary, I admit that.

But I guess, to that statement, slave narratives always scare me. I wonder about the humanity that remained in slave-owners and those who dragged free men and women back into captivity. They did this to extent that Morrison wrote this book based on the true story of a mother who killed her child so that she would not have to live in slavery. That is oppression. And it absolutely scares me. And it’s impacts today? Think it over.

Beloved is a daring approach to African-American slave narrative; it was difficult for Morrison to get to that place where she could tell this story. I admire her on so many levels for being brave enough to write this. Our class is attending one of her lectures at Harvard this semester, in March, and you’ll see me fangirling/crying in the back of Saunders Theatre by the very nature of being in her presence. Her works, especially The Bluest Eye, don’t steer away from heavy subject matter just because it’s too hard to confront it. No, they face everything head on.

That’s what you get when reading Beloved. From the very first page, you’re a part of the story. That of Sethe who sorrowfully accepts the presence of her dead child’s ghost, Beloved herself, in a house that has no name but instead a number. Of a family that uncovers each story as the book follows on. Of a society that is tainted with the history of the past, one that is inescapable and holds them down in literal chains of steel and silence. I’m looking forward to giving Morrison a standing ovation and being able to look her in the eyes because I genuinely appreciate her life’s work. It’s a piece of literary and living history.

10 out of 10 would recommend.

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