Title

Haunting History in Toni Morrison's Beloved

Presenter Information

Hannah Ryker

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 135

Start Date

16-5-2013

End Date

16-5-2013

Abstract

In the literary genre of Magical Realism, things like ghosts, haunting, and supernatural events exist and take place alongside the realm of the mundane or commonplace events of everyday life. In Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, the ghosts of the past, Beloved and Baby Suggs, converse with the living in the present to show how the past is constructed from subjective memories and how the future can in turn be constructed from these memories. The two ghosts in Beloved not only embody the past of the characters in the novel, they also personify the collective memory of slavery in this nation. Both the ghosts and the living characters in the novel represent the dangers that accompany historical repression or obsession. The ghosts that Toni Morrison creates in Beloved ultimately show how the past and present can be constructed differently by looking through different lenses. Beloved haunts in an aggressive manner, forcing characters to come to terms with their pasts or be consumed by it. In contrast, the ghost of Baby Suggs is an encouraging spirit, who suggests that the traumas of history may begin to be healed by reconciling the painful and the enjoyable events of the past. Toni Morrison’s novel exemplifies the destruction that can occur when one cannot overcome the traumas of the past to construct one’s future.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Christopher Schedler

Additional Mentoring Department

English

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May 16th, 3:00 PM May 16th, 3:20 PM

Haunting History in Toni Morrison's Beloved

SURC 135

In the literary genre of Magical Realism, things like ghosts, haunting, and supernatural events exist and take place alongside the realm of the mundane or commonplace events of everyday life. In Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, the ghosts of the past, Beloved and Baby Suggs, converse with the living in the present to show how the past is constructed from subjective memories and how the future can in turn be constructed from these memories. The two ghosts in Beloved not only embody the past of the characters in the novel, they also personify the collective memory of slavery in this nation. Both the ghosts and the living characters in the novel represent the dangers that accompany historical repression or obsession. The ghosts that Toni Morrison creates in Beloved ultimately show how the past and present can be constructed differently by looking through different lenses. Beloved haunts in an aggressive manner, forcing characters to come to terms with their pasts or be consumed by it. In contrast, the ghost of Baby Suggs is an encouraging spirit, who suggests that the traumas of history may begin to be healed by reconciling the painful and the enjoyable events of the past. Toni Morrison’s novel exemplifies the destruction that can occur when one cannot overcome the traumas of the past to construct one’s future.