The Effects of Violence in Beloved

The Effects of Violence in Beloved

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Literature concerning the lives of African Americans during and after slavery explores the many horrific acts of violence. Violence manifests itself in people both physically and psychologically. Physical wounds may heal over time, but it is the emotional scarring that begins to take a toll on the human mind. The novel, Beloved, by Toni Morrison revolves around the character of Sethe, an African American woman who recently escaped from a slave plantation. Sethe's home on 124 Bluestone Road is haunted by her daughter, Beloved, whom Sethe murdered in order to keep her from the life of slavery. Toni Morrison's novel, Beloved, explores both the uses and effects of violence through multiple characters.

The character of Paul D is left traumatized from his days as a slave. The violence that Paul D endured leaves him only with fear, believing that revealing too much will bring him back into a past from which he may never escape. This is evident in Chapter 7, when Paul D recalls the painful memories of his days as a slave with Sethe, “Saying more might push them both to a place they couldn’t get back from. He would keep the rest where it belonged: in that tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be. Its lid rusted shut” (Beloved).   Both Sethe and Paul D avoid having to deal with the past by repressing the memories of their days as slaves. The effects of violence have ultimately left Paul D with no other choice but to use this destructive coping mechanism. Paul D's only means of functioning is by locking his memories and emotions away in his “rusty tobacco tin.” The rustiness of the tin contributes to the reader’s sense of how inaccessible and corrosive Paul D’s memories are. Violence has cause Paul D to separate himself from his emotions, leaving him alienated from the rest of the world, but Paul D realizes this is a price that must be paid to save himself from his past.

Violence caused the character of Sethe much physical and emotional trauma....

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