Essay on Scars of Sethe and Paul D in Toni Morrison's Beloved

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The Scars of Sethe and Paul D in Beloved

Scars are undoubtably an incredible means of storytelling in Beloved. No matter how a person changes or what happens to them, these marks are another bit of tangible history, following each of them wherever they may go. These physical characteristics are what one can believe in, more than what is said or written. When written and oral language can many times not be trusted, physical characteristics provide another more certain form of communication--one that cannot be biased or altered.

People not only know the identity of someone by knowing their scars, but each scar tells a story of what a person has gone through. Sethe's back and the scars caused by her beating are important in the story
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To Paul D, the biggest violation is that they beat Sethe while she was pregnant. However, through physical contact he is able to learn her story and further understand what she has been through. "...he held his breasts in the palms of his hands. He rubbed his cheek on her back and learned that way her sorrow, the roots of it; its wide truck and intricate branches." Paul D found a way to learn what she had been through, and feel what she has felt, by physical connection with parts of her which had been damaged, and more specifically, her scars. In this way, scars fulfill not only a storytelling role, but serve also as a means of connection. In the passion of the moment, Paul D sees her scars as a beautiful part of Sethe's person, on page 20 he refers to her scars as a "wrought-iron maze" which he wants to explore and to know. "He saw the sculpture her back had become, like the decorative work of an ironsmith too passionate for display. " Paul D has no real words to express his emotions at that time except for "Aw, Lord, girl", but on page 18 he shows his desire to heal Sethe and make things better in another way. "He would have no peace until he had touched every ridge and leaf of it with his mouth, none of which Sethe could feel because her back skin had been dead for years. What she knew was that the responsibility for her breasts, at last, was in someone else's hands." Again, the true communication and interpersonal connection
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