How Does Toni Morrison's Beloved Reflect a Postcolonial Sensitivity

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Toni Morrison defines her writing as a kind of literary archaeology which relies on memory, history and autobiography. How does her literary practice reflect a postcolonial sensitivity?

The archaeologist sifts through the rubble of past civilisations for signs of human activity, in order to construct a picture of how people lived in the past. Like a kind of literary archaeologist, Morrison sifted through historical records and researched the diaries and memoirs of slaves and their owners before writing Beloved, in order to gain some sense of the experience of slavery as seen through the lives of ordinary people. As Morrison (cited in Conway, 2003, p.49) says: "The book is not about the institution - slavery with a capital S. It was
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Understandably non attachment was one defence against the emotional brutality of slave life. In Beloved, the bond between mother and child is central and foregrounds the greater picture of family dysfunction inherent in the institution of slavery. Slavery wrought havoc on family relationships and Morrison conveys the traumatic effects of this inhumane treatment and how it impacted on very human emotions through the fragmented memories and thoughts of the various characters.

There is the grandmother, Baby Suggs, who has lost seven of her eight children. Numbed by her a lifetime of loss, she scarcely seems to show any attachment, although emotions do surface with the murder of her grandchild. Anyone she has known or loved, .".. who hadn't run off or been hanged, got rented out, loaned out, bought up, brought back, stored up, mortgaged, won, stolen or seized (Morrison, 1997, p.23)." She is accustomed to a life where men and women are moved round like checkers and for her the nastiness of life was that "[n]obody stopped playing checkers just because the pieces included her children (Morrison, 1997, p.23)."

Paul D is determined not to love anything too much. It is better to love a little bit, so that when .".. they broke its back, or shoved it in a croaker sack, maybe you'd have a little love left over for the next one (Morrison, 1997, p.45)." He considers it very risky for Sethe to love her child: "For a used-to-be-slave