Toni Morrison 's Beloved : Dehumanization Of Slavery And Its Effects On African Americans And Their Basic Forms Of
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Toni Morrison’s Beloved shows the dehumanization of slavery and its effects on African-Americans and their basic forms of existence—specifically motherhood. Morrison depicts the strong maternal bond between Sethe and her children. Most importantly, her use of Sethe’s controversial act of infanticide shows the lengths that Sethe will take to protect her children from slavery. Morrison’s depiction of Sethe’s motherhood shows how slavery has deconstructed the Eurocentric expectations and traditions of motherhood and gender for black women. Rather than victimize Sethe’s as an enslaved woman, Morrision decides to celebrate her triumphs and suffering in Beloved. Therefore, Sethe’s identity as an enslaved black mother deconstructs the expectations of Eurocentric gender roles with her exertion of independence and control for the benefit of her children.
To understand Sethe’s identity in the novel Beloved, one must acknowledge the intersectionality of her identity of being both black and a woman. Kimberle Williams Crenshaw is most known for establishing the political term of intersectionality in discussion of black feminist political thought. She states, “Because the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated” (Crenshaw 3). To see Sethe, we must see both of her identities that shapes her plural identity.