Beloved: Analysis

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From the beginning, Beloved focuses on the import of memory and history. Sethe struggles daily with the haunting legacy of slavery, in the form of her threatening memories and also in the form of her daughter 's aggressive ghost. For Sethe, the present is mostly a struggle to beat back the past, because the memories of her daughter 's death and the experiences at Sweet Home are too painful for her to recall consciously. But Sethe 's repression is problematic, because the absence of history and memory inhibits the construction of a stable identity. Even Sethe 's hard-won freedom is threatened by her inability to confront her prior life. Paul D 's arrival gives Sethe the opportunity and the impetus to finally come to terms with her painful…show more content…
In this first chapter, Morrison plants the seeds of the major events that will unfurl over the course of the novel: Sethe 's encounter with schoolteacher and his nephews; the slaves ' escape from Sweet Home; the story of Amy Denver; and the mystery of Sethe 's baby 's murder. These past events are told in a nonlinear manner, fading and resurfacing cyclically as the characters ' memories reveal more and more to the reader and to the characters themselves. Analysis: Chapters 2–3 Chapter 2 begins with Paul D gazing at Sethe 's back and it ends with her gazing at his. These images symbolize what is taking place thematically in the chapter: the characters ' charting of their respective memories, of what lies behind them, at their backs. Sethe 's back also contains the visible scars of her whipping. The narration alternates between two time periods—the present in Cincinnati and the Sweet Home past. The Sweet Home past is presented from both Paul D 's and Sethe 's perspectives, as the narrator 's focus shifts between the two characters. The novel maps out the points of proximity and distance between them. Both characters, for example, are disappointed after having sex, and they simultaneously begin thinking about Sethe and Halle 's encounter in the cornfield twenty-five years ago. On the other hand, Paul D 's
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