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Memory in Beloved Essay

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Clariza Gutierrez

April 16, 2012

English 320

In everyone’s life there is a moment that is so dreadful and horrific that it is best to try to push it further and further back into your mind. When traumatized by death for example it is very natural to shut off the memory in order to self-defense suppresses the awful emotional experience. Very often it is thoughtful that this neglecting and abandoning is the best way to forget. In Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, memory is depicted as a dangerous and deliberating faculty of human consciousness. In this novel Sethe endures the oppression of self imposed prison of memory by revising the past and death of her daughter Beloved, her mother and Baby Suggs. In Louise Erdrich’s
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“She must have nursed me two or three weeks---that’s the way the others did (pg 73).” Again here we see how milk to a child is important to Sethe because it is the only interaction that she had with her daughter Beloved and her nameless mother. Even though Sethe tries to understand and cope with the past, Beloved generates a metamorphosis in Sethe that allows her to speak what she had thought to be the unspeakable.

With Beloved’s arrival and back into Seth’s life, Sethe also feels the need of going back into the memory of Baby Suggs, her mother in law. Baby Suggs held religious gatherings at a place called the clearing, where she taught her followers to love their voices, bodies and minds. However, after Sethe’s act of infanticide, Baby Suggs stops preaching and retreats to a sick bed to die. Accompanied by Denver and Beloved, Sethe feels the need to go to the clearing where Baby Suggs used to preach. “Baby Suggs’ long distance love was equal to any skin- close love she had known. The desire, let alone the gesture, to meet her needs was good enough to lift her spirits to the place where she could take the next step (pg 112).” In this section the memory of Baby Suggs also comes onto the surface, making Sethe want to remember her death by the presence of Beloved.

Similar to Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, Erdrich’s novel Love Medicine shows characters also dealing with memory of death and the
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