This novel is set just after the Civil War; therefore slavery is still on the minds of all the characters. Toni Morrison mad one of the main characters of Beloved a ghost because she wanted the characters to remember where they came from and this very evident from the start of the novel. The house was haunted by all of Denver and Sethe’s dead relativities. The house which is called “sweet house” isn’t very sweet. In fact, Paul D says, “If the house was so sweet, people would have stayed” (Morrison 13).
Even though the characters have moved on, memories come back to us no matter what else happens in over lives. Sethe and Denver keep seeing and talking to ghosts because the ghosts are the entire have in their lives. The ghosts equal all the memories of slavery that Sethe has. Morrison also uses ghosts in Beloved to equate slavery with a type of death . This death is the end of a part of a life and start of another part of a life.
However, the memories of slavery were still so strong after the Civil War that the images of slavery were hard to escape. The color of death was always in Sethe’s dreams; baby blood, pink gravestones and nothing more (Morrison 39). In addition, when Beloved came into Sethe’s, Denver’s and Paul D’s lives she hovered over Sethe like a ghost who wished to haunt her (Morrison 51). Beloved like all of the other ghosts represents the past.
Beloved doesn’t like when Sethe concentrates on anything or anyone but her (Morrison 100). In other words, Beloved wants Sethe to focus on all the bad memories of slavery. The supernatural events in the book contrast with what the reader expects in the ‘real world’ because it is possible that the reader would expect that if Sethe and Denver were actual people living in society they would wish to leave the house that is filled with a ghost that seems to be tied to the memories of slavery.
In addition, they both would want to go outside more and enjoy what life has to offer them. Moreover, in the ‘real world’ Sethe and Denver would probably attempt to both contact the ghosts through a medium or a ghost whisperer and ask why they are haunting the house and why these ghosts aren’t letting them go on with their lives. In addition, Sethe and Denver might even attempt to perform an exorcism hoping to get rid of the ghost or ghosts in their home so they can get on with their lives.
Moreover, in the ‘real world Sethe would see marring Paul D and possibly having a baby with him as a great way to start a new life after the horrible life she had because of slavery and Denver would be happy because she would have the father that she never had. Furthermore, Paul D might intervene in this situation by demanding that Sethe and Denver get some professional help because they both play and with and talk to ghosts that live in the house instead of interacting with a real human being who loves both of them.
However, in the book both Sethe and Denver, especially Sethe are bewitched by Beloved and don’t wish to go on with their lives. Paul D wishes to have a baby and a life with Sethe and Denver but Sethe is too scared to do that (Morrison 131-32). Also, Sethe thanks Beloved for showing her that what is in the house is all that Denver and she needs and she doesn’t need the world, which includes Paul D outside the house in the ‘real world’ (Morrison 185). Morrison seems to be saying that sometimes human beings make their own reality.
In other words, human beings create the reality that they need to survive even if that reality is false. In this book, fantasy is reality. Even when all three of them go outside to ice skate Beloved is still there and not Paul D (Morrison 174). Sethe and Denver ice skating with Beloved, who is a ghost isn’t al all realistic. In one way, it seems like Sethe and Denver are attempting to get away from the ghost because they go outside and ice skate and they are happy, but, at the same time it also seems like both Sethe and Denver are trying to hold on to a bit of the past along with the present while ignoring the future.
Sethe is bewitched by a ghost because she sees herself as Beloved and vice-versa (Morrison 216) Sethe seems to be losing herself. She is losing her own identity. I think that Morrison makes the contrast between the world of the supernatural and the ‘real world’ to remind the reader that sometimes human beings can get so haunted by past memories, ghosts if you will, that the past bleeds into the present and into the future. In fact, human beings can get so absorbed in memories that they forget the present.
This is very apparent when Sethe lost her job because of Beloved and Denver gets pushed out of Sethe’s life little by little the more Beloved stays there (Morrison 240). The contrast between the two worlds is also done to show that human beings can come out of their haunted world with a bit of help from your friends. The community broke Sethe out of the ghostly trance that Beloved had on her (Morrison 260). Morrison seems to be suggesting that the strength of the many will help the will of one. In addition, Paul D. tries to help Sethe by bathing her (Morrison 260).
In addition, he says to Sethe that they need some tomorrows because they have seen more yesterdays than anybody (Morrison 273). I also think that the multi-colored quilt that Paul D imagines on the bed represents the bright future that he wants to have with Sethe and Denver. However, at the end of the novel when Beloved is talked about (Morrison 275), that Morrison is illustrating that the memories or ghosts of a human’s past may never go away completely. Works Cited Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1987.