Saturday, March 25, 2017
Without amazing people like Levi Coffin along the underground railroad, there's no way it would have been as successful as it was. Levi Coffin is a really good example. He was a white abolitionist in Newport, Indiana who dedicated his life to the movement of escaped slaves along the underground railroad. He helped over three thousand directly, but beyond that he also was influential in the escape of thousands of others. He provided resources to other guides so they could help people along the path to freedom.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Upon first reading Beloved, I did not make the connection between the Bodwin's housekeeper Janey and the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. On first impression, it was just a normal name that was decided upon by the author's choice. Now, I am aware of the significance of the name in relation to Morrison's purpose of the novel, which is most likely interpreted as civil rights and issues of the post-war era. Many remnants of these racial issues are still seen today, so this topic is certainly relevant to today's readers. This hidden meaning can have some comparison to the hidden signals that slaves used to communicate with each other in order to plan escapes. I think that by adding the aspect of this name, Morrison has included another dimension of her already intricate novel that makes us think in more detail about her intentions.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Paul D leaves 124 because Stamp Paid tells him the story of how Sethe killed Beloved and tried to kill her other children. Afterwards, we find out that Paul D has been staying in the basement of the Church of the Holy Redeemer. When Stamp Paid learns of this, he is offended that no one from the community has offered to help him and bring him into their own homes. In reality, the preacher had offered Paul D his help, but Paul D wanted to stay in the church. Stamp Paid offers the hospitality of himself and his whole community to Paul D. I believe he offers this because he feels guilty that he told Paul D about Sethe's past without thinking about the effect it would have on Paul D and Sethe. Also, the importance of the tight-knit community that helps out each other is clearly seen.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
It is interesting to see the various codes and secret signals that slaves created in order to communicate escape plans. Some strategies, like the quilt code, seem more elaborate but less likely of being discovered by whites and slaveowners. The quilt code would be a great way to relay directions, except it is harder to make a quilt than say sing a song, and the slaves have to be able to decode the quilt. Song seems to me the easiest way to communicate plans, but some of the songs seem like they'd be easily figured out by whites. Some of the lyrics are somewhat obvious and could have made whites suspicious of slaves running away. For example, "Follow the Drinking Gourd" clearly implies directions. It is still amazing to see how effective these songs were in helping many slaves run away to freedom. I wonder how many whites did not pick up on these songs, maybe they were not paying attention or were not around when they were sung. The slaves seemed to be very strategical in how they formed escaped plans and how they communicated directions to other slaves.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Stamp paid tells Paul D about the event in which Sethe killed beloved and severely injured her other children. He even provides a newspaper clipping to prove his story. Upon hearing of this, Paul D leaves Sethe, comparing her to an animal with the line, "you've got two legs, not four." Later on, Stamp paid feels guilty for causing Paul D to leave, but is he in the wrong? While telling the truth did have bad repercussions for Sethe and Denver, whom Stamp Paid is very close to because of his link with Baby Suggs, but isn't it also important that Paul D knows the truth before he starts a family with Sethe. I don't think there's a right answer here, what do y'all think?
I think that the metaphor of the jungle in order to compare the whites' view of blacks and how it affects the whites is very appropriate. This shows how despite what black people did in order to prove that they were human, whites only saw them as more and more animalistic and thought that they needed slavery to keep blacks in check. By tangling up the jungle, the whites had actually let the jungle spread inside of them and change them into more violent people than even they wanted to be. The jungle imagery also draws the link between humanity and animals, which is another major theme.
The voices that Stamp Paid here's when he tries to knock on Sethe's door represent all of the dead blacks who have suffered and were not permitted to have livable lives because of slavery. Stamp Paid remarks how Baby Suggs is a rarity because she dies in bed and was free, but she did not even have a livable life due to Halle's disappearance and Sethe's somewhat successful murder of her own children. Even the most educated, well-mannerred blacks suffered the same fate in the long run. This is the same way that Baby Suggs felt after she tried her hardest, but the whites still came into her yard.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
One of the most important themes in Beloved by Toni Morrison is the wrongness of people possessing other people. Therefore, there are many references to possession in more ways that just the most evident example of slavery. For instance, in the love triangle between Beloved, Sethe, and Denver, Denver feels she possesses Beloved, but Beloved feels that she is controlled by Sethe. When Paul D debates whether to knock on their door or not, he hears the hasty voices of what we later know are dead slaves and other African-Americans who have suffered. The only word that he can distinguish is "mine" which obviously shows possession and proves that these voices are blacks who have suffered because they were bought and sold through slavery.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Honestly, with the evidence we are presented in the novel, it could go either way. Of course the name would lead us to believe that she is, but it goes a lot deeper than that. If we are looking at this from a completely realistic point of view she cant be the original Beloved, because dead things just can't come back to life. On the other hand, there is definitely something supernatural going on here. We see Sethe peeing as if her water had broken when Beloved appears. Beloved shows superhuman strength and seemed to pop up seemingly out of nowhere. On the other hand, her past could be explained by her being kept in captivity. At this point, with the evidence we have been presented, it seems more like its up to the reader to interpret just who beloved is.
A lot of y'all seemed to think Halle was kind of a scumbag for not following Halle. I can see where your'e coming from, but I have to disagree. Put yourself in Halle's shoes for a second. I know he has obviously caused Sethe great pain, but that's not necessarily his fault. Running away was a very hard thing for slaves to do, and could EASILY result in death. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. Also, I don't know how many of y'all remember the PTSD project we did last year, but PTSD also applies to those who witness a traumatic event, especially when it involves a spouse or a family member. So it is very likely that Halle could have developed severe psychological problems from seeing that happen to Sethe. Obviously Sethe's experience was much more traumatic, but they are two different people with two different minds, and we have witnessed firsthand how mentally strong Sethe is. It is unfair to judge them in the same way.
So I am believe that Beloved is definitely the reincarnation/embodiment of the Baby Ghost. Her description makes her seem like a baby, which makes sense because she didn't have time to grow up. However, if she's been dead all these years and hasn't experience anything, how does she know what sex is? And why does she feel the need to steal her mom's man to get it? Why does Paul D feel its ok to sleep with his lover's "dead" child?
Denver feels a maternal connection to Beloved, but Beloved mostly only cares about Sethe. Denver would do almost anything for Beloved because Denver has been lonely all this time and because she is possessive to the point of obsession in regards to Beloved. Therefore, when Beloved momentarily disappears into thin air in the cold house, Denver freaks out because it is almost like she has lost her self. Denver has committed herself to caring for Beloved's needs to the point that she has lost her own identity. Instead of Denver possessing Beloved, it is quite the opposite in this part of the novel. This development is evident because instead of doing whatever Denver tells Beloved, she starts to argue with Denver and says that Denver cannot control her. Therefore, Denver has lost her power in the situation has lost her self by association.
Early on, when Denver suggests moving away from 124 to escape their isolation caused by the Baby Ghost and Sethe's reputation, Sethe says she is tired of running. Through flashbacks, we see all the running that Sethe and later Paul D went through to gain their freedom. Sethe almost died in her escape from Sweet Home as she was exhausted from walking while very pregnant. Sethe probably would not have made it if it weren't for Amy Denver. Paul D narrowly escaped jail with the other prisoners due to a miracle of constant rain. Without the help of the Cherokees he runs in to, Paul D probably would have never survived to make it to 124 either. These two have been through so much, being a slave on Sweet Home and their lives after, that 124 is a point where they can actually feel safe for once. Denver does not understand the pain that her mother has been through, and to Sethe, the Baby Ghost is nothing compared to her journey to get to this point.
Friday, March 10, 2017
When Denver saw the white dress with its arm around Sethe, she thought it must mean that the Baby Ghost had plans. After Paul D got rid of the Baby Ghost, it never returned, except Beloved arrived. It is clear that Beloved is a human embodiment of the Baby Ghost, even though Denver is the only one who realizes this. However, so far it is unclear really what Beloved's plans are. She has shown that she hates Paul D, possibly because he rid the house of her presence. Beloved starts moving where Paul D sleeps, and eventually forces him to have sex with her, which opens up his "tin can" of a heart, exposing the "red heart" inside. While it is not clear what her full intentions are, Beloved has begun to effect and control Paul D. Beloved also appears to love and obsess over Sethe, but at the clearing it is suspicious that she could have been the one choking Sethe. It is interesting because Sethe is believed to have murdered the baby by cutting its throat. Beloved has made herself a part of 124, as she was before in the form of the Baby Ghost, and no one seems to suspicious of her actions. Denver is the only one who realizes she is the Baby Ghost, but would do anything to keep her around. It is unclear of Beloved's plans so far, but Paul D and Sethe may be in trouble.