Thursday, March 29, 2012

Baby Suggs advice for Sethe

"'Lay em down, Sethe. Sword and shield. Down. Down. Both of em down. Down by the riverside. Sword and shield. Don't study war no more. Lay all that mess down. Sword and shield." (Page 101)

This advice is repeated throughout the book through Sethe's thoughts. Baby Suggs was always so strong about the African community sticking together until the very end. I wonder if Baby Suggs felt this way through out her life or if this was advice she first gave Sethe toward the end of Baby Suggs' life. To me it seems that even though Baby Suggs was never prone to fight, it would make sense if her advice was to lay down the sword but hold the shield steady.

6 comments:

ParkerC said...

I think she was a fighter of the white people's treachery. When she talks to Stamp and she repeats "I'm saying they came in my yard," it shows when she finally gave up. Not only did white peolpe invade her freedom in Cincinatti, but also in Africa

alyb said...

I think that as Baby Suggs got older she came to realize that the white people had complete domination over the African American community. This quote really seems to me like Baby Suggs has given up because she realizes that she cant do anything about the power the whites had over the blacks.

Ravin S said...

Baby Suggs says "there is no bad luck in the world but whitefolks". I agree with Aly that especially when Baby Suggs died she realized that the blacks had no freedom. Baby Suggs pretty much did give up. Blacks always had to look over their shoulders for slavecatchers even if they were born free slaves. Whites assumed that they could simply take over the blacks without a rebellion, but the world is much better today without slavery.

mere said...

This is true. I think Baby Suggs' advice is just to let go sometimes. Sometimes Sethe needs to put her defenses down and let people in to help her especially Paul D.

christine said...

I also agree with Aly. To me it never seemed like baby Suggs was holding a shield because to her, the effects of slavery could never dissappear and it was worthless to defend herself from the inevitable. Whenever I read this quote, it always reminds me of the "turn the other cheek" quote in the bible. I think the reason baby Suggs gave up in the end, was that she had no more cheeks to turn.

sara pendleton said...

I agree with all of yall, I think that by the end, Baby Suggs' kindness and forgiveness was just used up. I think the symbolic laying down sword and shield was a kind of end of suffering and anger. She used peaceful protest in her own way; she never seemed to want to struggle and fight, which would produce anger and hatred towards enemies, against overwhelming odds she preached forgiveness and self-love. She was human though and her compassion and forgiveness could only be stretched so far; I think she had finial reached the breaking point. Sethe's decline is very similar to Baby Suggs' and I wonder if Sethe's sadness over losing her 'best thing' parallels Baby Suggs' lost faith in humanity (because it seems like Sethe's actions were the straw that broke the camels back Baby's belief in human goodness.)