The Soul Of A Deceased Child By Toni Morrison

1340 Words6 Pages
In 1873, just after the Civil War ended, a house numbered 124 on the edge of Cincinnati, Ohio is haunted by the soul of a deceased child. Sethe, an ex-slave, and her two daughters, Denver and Beloved, occupy the home. The oldest daughter Beloved, however, happens to be the ghost haunting her mother and sister. The bond between a mother and her children is evident throughout Toni Morrison’s 1987 novel, Beloved; seen in Sethe’s lack of a relationship with her mother, and therefore, her desire to properly nurture her own children. Unfortunately, slavery does not allow for the existence of motherhood. The motherly impulse to protect one’s children is innate, but in the dehumanizing realm of slavery, Sethe’s maternal instincts are limited and…show more content…
Sethe’s only other memory of her mother is when Sethe recognizes her mother’s branding on her hanging body. This horrifying image sticks with Sethe her entire life, and causes her psychological agony. Sethe does not want her children to suffer the pain she has. She wants them to have a relationship with their mother, and especially not see her die. Sethe also remembers that as a baby she was deprived of milk from her mother to survive. Sethe was nursed by another woman, and recalls that “The little whitebabies got it first and I got what was left nursed her. Or none. There was no nursing milk to call my own. I know what it is to be without the milk that belongs to you; to have to fight and holler for it, and to have so little left” (Morrison 236). Sethe was malnourished and not fed by her own mother, which further stresses the separation between them. Sethe’s few childhood memories of her mother make it extremely important to her to nurse her children. When Sethe is cruelly held down and robbed of this ability, she is more infuriated than the time she is brutally whipped (Morrison 19). When telling a fellow slave about the beating she endured before escaping, she reiterates, “they took my milk!” This emphasizes how imperative it was to Sethe to save her milk for her child. Sethe’s lack of motherly nurturing and loss of her mother cause her to want a stronger bond with her own children and a better life for them. The idea that slavery discourages
Get Access