Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ Captivates

Danielle Romanelli   Staff Writer


If you, your roommate, your friend, or anyone you know has a book review or book report due in the upcoming months leading to the end of the semester, a great option is “Beloved” by Toni Morrison. Morrison wrote this novel in September of 1987, and the novel has since become an important part of literature. Available in the library, this novel contains an extravagant number of symbols that make the book irresistible and very hard to put down.

It is set in the time period after the American Civil War, in the year 1873, in the town of Cincinnati, Ohio.  The main character, Sethe, is a former slave, and lives in a house with her teenage daughter, Denver. A ghost is known to haunt their house, and Denver’s brothers fear the ghost and take off. Denver, on the other hand, is comfortable with the ghost, and enjoys living in the house. This book continues to bounce back and forth between the past and the present, making it a book that one has to read in depth and dedicate their full attention to. It is very easy to misunderstand the book, as the time periods consistently switch without warning. In the past time period, Sethe talks about her times as a slave, and the horrors that she went through while being owned by white men. In the present time period, Sethe is a free woman, yet still suffers the prejudice that was extremely prevalent during this time towards black people. Through the continuous flashbacks, the reader is able to learn more about the present actions then Sethe does, and understand more about Sethe in general.

The main theme of this book is to discuss how slavery dehumanizes a person, and how former slaves found it very hard to adjust to freedom, as they had been hurt and dehumanized for so long. It also focuses on the supernatural, but not in a “sci-fi” type of genre. The supernatural in “Beloved” is very natural, and works to bring out more themes and symbols in the novel. Finally, there are a countless number of symbols in this novel. I have read it four times, and find new symbols each time. This time period and genre, as well as the detailed themes and symbols, make this novel perfect for any book review or book report. I hope you choose to read this novel, even if not for an assignment. Happy reading!

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