Theme Of Healing In Beloved Essay Research

Theme Of Healing In Beloved Essay, Research Paper

Theme of healing in Beloved

November 02, 1998

Healing in Beloved The theme of “healing” is ever present in

the novel, Beloved by Toni Morrison. Many forms of “healing”

take place, with many different characters undergoing the

“healing” process. These forms of “healing” range from

healing personal conflicts from within, to healing as a

community, and by overcoming individual prejudices. I feel

that the overcoming of individual prejudices is one of the most

important aspects of this novel. Throughout the story, Sethe

(the main character) has many encounters with a variety of

people. These encounters leave a definite impression on her,

which is why I think that Sethe does the most “healing,” both

from within and by overcoming her own prejudices. The

meeting of Sethe and Amy Denver is the focal point of Sethe?s

“healing.” This takes place when Sethe (being pregnant) is a

slave on the run and goes into labor. She meets Amy Denver,

an indentured servant who is leaving to Boston. At first, Amy

doesn?t seem that she wants to help Sethe because of her

skin color, while Sethe isn?t too trusting of Amy?s white skin.

Sethe later states, “You don?t know how they?ll jump. Say one

thing do another”(Morrison 77). This kind of distrust is present

in Sethe when she tells Amy that her name is “Lu.” The

combination of Amy?s nonchalant attitude, and Sethe?s distrust

displays the prejudices of society at the time. As Sethe and

Amy converse, Sethe realizes that Amy is unlike any other

white person she has ever met. After Amy tells Sethe about

her situation, and that she was also beaten by her “employer,”

Sethe realizes that not all whites were the slave owners, but

in fact some were indentured servants. Amy then begins to

massage Sethe?s swollen feet, and says, “More it hurt, more

better it is. Can?t nothing heal without pain, you know”

(Morrison 78). I think that at that point Sethe begins build trust

towards trust Amy. Amy then goes and finds spiderwebs to

heal Sethe?s bleeding back, which displays Amy showing a

little compassion and trust towards Sethe. As Amy again

massages Sethe?s feet, the reader begins to feel like they are

no longer just black and white, but actual people that have

feelings. I think that Morrison wants the reader to get this

feeling that people are people and not property. I feel Amy

agrees with this, but at the same time the prejudices in the

society that she has grown up in makes her say things like,

“She don?t know nothing, just like you. You don?t know a

thing” (Morrison 80). Another example of how prejudices are

intertwined with society, is the constant use of Sethe calling

Amy “miss” throughout the passage. This relays a sort of

cultural boundary, the fact that Amy can call Sethe by her first

name but Sethe resorts to acting formally towards her. The

actual delivery of Sethe?s child is the climax to the “healing” of

Sethe?s own prejudices. Amy helps Sethe deliver the baby

and with no hesitation, “Push!,” screamed Amy (Morrison 84).

Amy no longer thinks of herself as being different from Sethe,

which overcomes some of her own prejudices. At that point,

Amy just sees Sethe as a person who needs help and not a

runaway slave that should be left alone. The line, “A pateroller

passing would have sniggered to see two throw-away people,

two lawless outlaws–a slave and a barefoot whitewoman with

unpinned hair–wrapping a ten-minute-old baby in the rags

they wore”(Morrison 84-85), better illustrates the bonding that

has taken place. The conclusion to this incident was the

naming of Sethe?s child, which was aptly named, Denver. For

Sethe to name her own daughter, (after killing her first

because she didn?t want her to grow up into slavery) after a

whitewoman was a sign of “healing” that had taken place

during that night. Sethe would now have a different opinion

about white people, not to say that it would be that much

different, but it definitely had changed it. In this novel Beloved,

we see the “healing” that takes place within the individual. It is

not a physical type of healing, but more of a psychological

healing. This change, or healing may look insignificant, but to

the individual (in this case Sethe) they have a new outlook on

things. They have overcome a certain barrier and now can

function in a new way of thinking. From that point on Sethe

doesn?t see all white people as devils, nor does she trust all of

them, but by having Amy Denver help deliver her baby and

thus bonding, she knows that there are many different people

with different ways of behaving. I think that there are many

other types of “healing” that occur in this novel, but I feel that

if Sethe and Amy can overcome their own personal prejudices

from a chance meeting, then this would be the most

significant “healing” in this novel.


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