Good Essays
Slavery has been a vital part of America’s history since it began in 1619. Such history must be preserved in order to understand its ongoing influence in issues today, but thousands of stories of those enslaved have been lost or forgotten in time. Toni Morrison expresses why the narrative of slavery must be continued on by integrating the life of Margaret Garner into her novel Beloved. In Beloved, Toni Morrison intertwines fiction with the story of Margaret Garner in order pass it on and explore what might have been if the circumstances surrounding Garner had been different.
Margaret Garner and Sethe’s murder of their children happened very similarly, but the reaction and the aftermath differed. In 1856, Margaret Garner killed her youngest child, and went to trial as a result. The case garnered nationwide attention and inspired sympathy for the abolitionist cause. Despite the support, Garner struggles to process what she has done. She knows her child is dead, but she does not accept that she murdered her. She remarks to a journalist “you
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Her community shuns her, and even a trusted friend like Paul D says “What you did was wrong, Sethe.” (Morrison 194) Margaret Garner was provided with sympathy and support from her enslaved community that recognized her desperation and fear, and outsiders that were inspired by the tragedy of her case. Sethe’s peers share her experiences with slavery, but are less compassionate in their response. She was isolated from her neighbors because she killed Beloved. The act was seen as a sort of betrayal to the community in which no one is left behind, even if they knew her circumstances. The trauma behind the crime was acknowledged, but not understood. Both Margaret Garner and Sethe experience immense stress in the aftermath of their daughter’s death, as people question whether or not what they did was right and challenge why they committed the crime to begin
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