Hypocrisy of Mr. Garner and Mr. Bodwin in Toni Morrison's Beloved

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The Hypocrisy of Mr. Garner and Mr. Bodwin in Toni Morrison's Beloved


In Toni Morrison's novel Beloved, both Mr. Garner and Mr.
Bodwin are presented initially as decent men, with views on the black
race that differ from all the rest of the white men in the book. The
readers first impression of each of these men is favorable. With
further reading and thought however, the reader notices more and
more details that tend to change their initial impression. By the end of
the book both men seem to have lost their appeal. Even though there
is very little said against Mr. Garner, and even less against Mr.
Bodwin, it seems that Morrison was trying to cause very mixed
opinions about each one of these characters. In the end, Mr.
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He didn't beat his slaves for starters. They were "encouraged
to correct Garner, even defy him. To invent ways of doing things; to
see what was needed and attack it without permission." He allowed
them to do numerous things that were unheard for slaves anywhere
else. They were allowed to marry. They were allowed to handle guns,
and they were even taught to read if they wanted to , though they
rarely took advantage of this allowance "since nothing important to
them could be put down on paper" (125).

Probably the most highly noted action of Garner's in the book is
when he allows one of his slaves to buy freedom for his mother who
was also one of Garner's slaves. Halle, the son, had given up his only
day of rest and offered to be rented out every Sunday for years, to
other farms, to pay for the freedom of his mother, Baby Suggs.
Garner didn't even have to consider the idea. He owned them both so
technically any money Halle could of earned to pay for his mother's
release would be Garner's, and Garner wouldn't owe Halle a thing. But
Garner agreed. He allowed Halle to buy his 60 year-old-mother's
freedom.

Not only did he release her but he drove her by wagon to the
Cincinnati, Ohio, paid her resettlement fee, and arranged a house for
her through his friends of twenty years, the Bodwins. This act is
repeatedly discussed and thought about throughout the book by the
different characters. Mr. Garner uses it to defend himself…