In a novel about racism and slavery, one can not pay too much attention to the matter of colors. In Toni Morrison's Beloved, however, the issue of color is not confined to discussions on race. Blood, ribbon, even roosters, all vividly colored, spot the scenery of the novel and provide valuable insight into the prominent themes of both dehumanization and the struggle for freedom.
Sethe, the novel's protagonist, inhabits a world defined entirely in black and white. The racial dichotomy created by slavery, combined with traumatic associations of events caused by slavery, has rubbed all of the color out of her world. Sethe's inability to see color comes on gradually after she murders her own child in a desperate attempt to save the child from a life of slavery:
Every day she worked at fruit pies, potato dishes and vegetables while the cook did the soup, meat and all the rest. And she could not remember remembering a molly apple or a yellow squash. Every dawn she saw the dawn, but never acknowledged or remarked its color. There was something wrong with that. It was as though one day she saw red baby blood, another day the pink gravestone chips, and that was the last of it (47).
Sethe's obliviousness to color is...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 900 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7137 literature essays, 2000 sample college application essays, 296 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in
Essay on Toni Morrison's Beloved - Symbol and Symbolism in Beloved
1562 Words7 Pages
Symbolism in Beloved
In the novel Beloved, the author, Toni Morrison, attempts to promote a variety of different themes and ideas by symbolizing them in minor events and situations. This symbolism is evident throughout the entire novel and is very crucial to the understanding and analyzing of the text. A good example of this is the ice skating scene. Morrison uses this scene to represent the slow, but consistent, deterioration of the family living in 124 and to foreshadow the ultimate demise of the family unit. Morrison writes repeatedly, “Nobody saw them falling,” yet in all reality they were falling, and falling fast (Morrison 174). There are a number of details, including the setting, Sethe’s emotions, the choice of…show more content…
Her mind is clouded with emotions and “rememories.” But in the ice skating scene this appears to change as Morrison writes, “Anybody feeling sorry for [Sethe], anybody wandering by to peep in and see how she was getting on would discover that the woman... was sailing happily on a frozen lake” (Morrison 174). Sethe appeared to be happy once again. At one point, Sethe takes on the qualities of some kind of wild animal, having four legs. After falling on the ice “Sethe rose to her hands and knees, laughter still shaking her chest, making her eyes wet. She stayed that way for a while, on all fours” (Morrison 175). Paul D also refers to her as being an animal and having four legs later in the novel. It is also interesting that Morrison writes, “Sethe couldn’t skate a lick...” (Morrison 174) Sethe did not know how to skate, just like she did not know how to be a parent. This inability later leads to the downfall of the family.
Morrison takes great detail in describing which shoes each member of the family wears while ice skating. Sethe says, “We’ll take turns. Two skates on one; one skate on one; and shoe slide for the other” (Morrison 174). Morrison writes, “Beloved wore the pair” (Morrison 174). Beloved was given the two best skates because she was the least stable of the three. She needed the most attention, the most help