The Water Motif in Beloved by Toni Morrison Essays

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In her novel Beloved, Toni Morrison writes about the life of former slaves of Sweet Home. Sethe, one of the main characters, was once a slave to a man and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Garner. After Garner’s sudden death, schoolteacher comes to Sweet Home and takes control of the slaves. His treatment of all the slaves forced them to run away. Fearing that her children would be sold, Sethe sent her two boys and her baby girl ahead to her mother-in-law. On the way to freedom, a white girl named Amy Denver helped Sethe deliver her daughter, who she later names Denver. About a month after Sethe escapes slavery, schoolteacher found her and tried to bring her back. In fear that her children would be brought back into slavery, Sethe killed…show more content…
84). In these two passages, water signifies birth. Denver was thought to be dead until Sethe reached the river, a large body of water. Also, Denver is actually born in the water because the boat that Sethe was in was filled up with water. When Beloved first appears at Sethe’s house, Sethe leans in to look at the woman’s face. As she does so, she suddenly feels a great need to relive herself. “She never made the outhouse. Right in front of its door she had to lift her skirts, and the water she voided was endless. Like a horse, she thought, but as it went on and on she thought, No, more like flooding the boat when Denver was born'; (p.50). When Sethe looked at Beloved’s face, her bladder filled up. When she was relieving herself, the amount of urine reminded her of flooding the boat when her water broke at the time Denver was born. Denver’s birth is associated many times with water.      Throughout her novel, Toni Morrison also uses the motif of water to signify re-birth. When we first meet Beloved, Morrison writes, “A fully dressed woman walked out of the water'; (p. 50). In this passage, Beloved, the daughter that Sethe murdered 18 years ago, comes back to the world of the living. She comes straight out of the water. Here, water signifies the re-birth of Beloved. When Beloved is taken into the house, the only thing she asks for is water.

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