Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blog #4 Sethe

Blog #4 Sethe

Blog #4

Sethe is the heart of Beloved. I believe Sethe represents all of the mothers who were in slavery. These ladies had to be strong and endure so many hardships that is really beyond our comprehension. Sethe’s real since of being was challenged by the treatment she received from Schoolteacher. Sethe already knew the savagery that slavery held but she met it head on with Schoolteacher and his nephews. She knew that they already thought of her as an animal. Beloved gives us a small view of what life was like for a woman slave. Sethe was a protective mom that loved her children dearly. Her later actions do not sound like it but she did what she felt like she had to do. She was terrified when Schoolteacher and his nephews found her and her children and she knew they would go back to the plantation and if they did she knew from her painful experiences. One experience was when Schoolteacher let his nephews hold her down and sucked the milk from her breast when she was pregnant. As a woman I can not begin to imagine the pain and humiliation she felt. They were brutal to her and as I said before they thought of her as an animal. Then when they opened up her back, oh my gosh, can you imagine the extreme pain that would have been to have left scars. I have some small scars and when I was cut it hurt real bad but to have been purposely cut open and you know it did not heal right without the proper stuff to keep it clean, it just upset me to think about all of it. Anyway, so she was their with her children and all she could think about was getting her children out of the hell hole called slavery and the only way she could think of doing it was killing them and letting them go to a better place. Do I think this was rational thinking, no, but nothing about the situation was rational. When she killed her daughter she had to have been hysterical with fright and worry for her children. So, she killed the one child and the others survived. She no doubt is tormented by what she has done. Eighteen years pass, Baby Suggs, Sethe, and Denver are living at 124. Strange things keep happening in the house. Dishes break, glass breaks, and things move. It is not unusual for slaves to think about spirits because that was a belief from Africa. This spirit or ghost seem upset. Because of what Sethe had done people did not like her nor her daughter so Denver stayed at home. Denver sort of befriends the ghost. When Sethe becomes reaquainted with Paul D from Sweet Home Plantation we see the ghost get upset and get angry. Paul D. shows her how to feel like a woman again and shows her he cares for her. The jealous ghost becomes flesh and shows up to destroy her relationship with Paul D. Sethe feels so guilty about her past that she treats this person called Beloved as a queen, buying her things when the money should go for food. Sethe comes very close to loosing her mind, which many slaves did. If it had not been for Denver leaving 124 and letting someone know what was going on, Sethe would have completely lost her mind. She was letting Beloved run her life to the point that she was exhausted. Paul D. had caved in and had a sexual relationship with Beloved and Beloved told him what Sethe had done eighteen years ago. Paul leaves. Here is Sethe very fragile. The women from the community come and it sounds like some type of excorcism was done when they sang in the yard of 124 because Beloved just disapprears from sight. Of course this could have been a good what to leave the story open for the next book by Morrison. So, when Beloved leaves, it seems Sethe is able to begin to heal and Paul D. returns to her. I am so thankful that Toni Morrison wrote Beloved. Slavery was a dark part of our history and I think we really need to understand all we can about it so we can prevent something like this happing again. We must also be informed about the countries that still have slavery. We can not keep our heads in the sand. With the foreign countries that approve of or turn their heads the other direction, we have to be so careful not to become one of their tools to keep the trade going.

Modern Day Slavery


US Department of State report for 2005:

pastedGraphic.pdf The U.S. Department of State issues a Trafficking in Persons Report on a yearly basis. Their web site states:

Trafficking in persons is a modern-day form of slavery, involving victims who are typically forced, defrauded or coerced into sexual or labor exploitation. It is among the fastest growing criminal activities, occurring both worldwide and in individual countries. Annually, at least 600,000 - 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked across borders worldwide, including 14,500 - 17,500 persons into the United States.

People are snared into trafficking by various means. For example, physical force is used or false promises are made regarding a legitimate job or marriage in a foreign country to entrap victims into prostitution, pornography and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation or slavery-like labor conditions in factories and fields. Victims suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, threats against self and family, passport theft, and physical restraint.

The State Department rates most of the countries in the world on a three tier format. They rated 14 countries at Tier 3. These are countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the U.S. federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) and are not making significant efforts to do so: Bolivia, Burma, Cambodia, Cuba, Ecuador, Jamaica, Kuwait, North Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Togo, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.


Non-profit groups working to combat slavery:


Anti-Slavery International, Thomas Clarkson House, The Stableyard, Broomgrove Road, London, UK, SW9 9TL. Telephone: +44 (0)20 7501 8920. Fax: +44 (0)20 7738 4110. E-mail: info@antislavery.org


Free the Slaves, 1326 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA. Telephone: 1.866.324.FREE. and 202.588.1865. Fax: 202.588.1514. E-mail: info@freetheslaves.net


Site navigation:

Home page > Religious violence > Slavery > here

or Home page > Christianity > Slavery > here


References used

  1. "What is modern slavery?," Anti-Slavery International, at: http://www.antislavery.org/
  2. The text of the "Slavery Convention" is at: http://www.hri.ca/
  1. The text of the "Protocol amending the Slavery Convention signed at Geneva on 25 September 1926," is at: http://www.hri.ca/
  2. The text of the "Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery" is at: http://www.hri.ca/
  1. Steven Greenhouse, "Migrant-Camp Operators Face Forced Labor Charges," New York Times, 2002-JUN-21, at: http://www.freetheslaves.net/
  1. "Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000" at: http://www.freetheslaves.net/ You need software to read this file. It can be obtained free from: pastedGraphic_5.pdf
  1. "Slavery flourishing despite strong laws," The Toronto Star, "Rights Watch" section, 2003-JUN-22, Page F4.
  2. "United Nations meeting reveals slavery's global scale," Anti-Slavery International, at: http://www.antislavery.org/
  1. "Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Action to End Modern-Day Slavery," U.S. Department of State, at: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/
  1. "Trafficking in Persons Report," Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State, 2005-JUN-03, at: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46606.htm


Copyright © 1999 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-JUN-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

Blog #3 Schoolteacher

Blog #3 is about Schoolteacher. We see in Beloved, a character that was beyond evil. This character is called Schoolteacher. He managed Sweet Home when the owner died. The owner’s wife had to let Schoolteacher take over the plantation when she was sick and could not take care of things. That is when his “Hitler” type ideas took hold. He was a racist full of hatred for men and women with color. He treated the slaves worse than animals. I can not help but think of the defenseless Jews that were tortured and the displacement of thousands and thousands of families would were never to see their families again, live or dead. That is what it was like for the slaves. They were beaten, tortured and even killed because they were thought of as pieces of property. This is the way Schoolteacher treated the slaves. He orders Sixo tied to a tree and set a fire at his feet. Because Sixo kept singing, Schoolteacher told the others to shoot Sixo. Something else he permitted was allowing his nephews to hold down Sethe while she was pregnant and let them take milk from her breast. To be put down as an animal and have men do that to her is enough to push anyone over the edge. Morrison was able to show some of the savagery that many slaves went through. So much was never discussed. Sethe’s back was opened up and when it was healed looked like a tree growing on her back. Slaves were dismembered, burned, shot, stripped from all of their dignity, and separated from their babies, children, husbands, wives, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents, ect...Schoolteacher just seemed to be satisfied only when he caused as much fear and pain as he could. This type of behavior was repeated many, many times during slave times.

Blog #2 The Character Beloved

Blog #2


The most interesting character in Beloved, is Beloved. We learn about her during one of the flashbacks in the book. This book is full of flashbacks which at times can be a little confusing to the reader. Beloved was killed by her mother, Sethe when she was only two. Her mom was so terrified that her children would be taken back to the plantation by Schoolteacher and would live the tormented lives as slaves that she decided to kill them. The two year old daughter was the only one she succeeded in killing. We jump to about eighteen years later to 124. Beloved’s grandmother, Baby Suggs, Sethe, and Denver, Beloved’s sister are living at 124. To begin with we see things happening in the house that are unexplained and later it becomes more noticeable that something or someone is not happy in the form of a spirit. She breaks things, leaves baby handprints, and breaks dishes. Sethe and Denver have accepted the spirit in the house. The two sons who had come to 124 could not handle it and they went away. Slaves from Africa brought with them the ideas that there were spirits of others that would come to their homes so when this “ghost” showed up they did not think it that odd. So, Paul D. arrives on the scene and the “ghost” is not happy. Worse things happen and then all of the sudden a girl shows up. She is about twenty, and Beloved comes to 124 as a being of flesh and bones. When she comes her voice is scratchy from possibly not being used for so long. Her skin is soft like a baby’s skin. Beloved (or so it is thought to be) is having problems with the way she walks and is a little clumbsy acting. I love how Morrison brings the “ghost” or spirit to life. The little girl who was murdered in the past then becomes jealous and then her spirit changes and shows up there at her moma’s house. She is jealous because she sees this man getting her moma’s attention, Beloved can not stand that. When she was a spirit her sister, Denver views her as a sort of friend. Denver becomes even closer to her when she shows up at the house. There are so many details I know I have missed in this because I had to read it so quickly and plan to read it again when I can take my time and really let everything sink in. Back to Beloved, ok, so at this point she wants to get rid of Paul D. so she seduces him. He gives in, which is exactly what Beloved wanted. Sethe had spent her savings on extravagant things for Beloved which forced Denver to go to work. While at work Denver talks to others about her homelife. At this point, Beloved is apparently pregnant or at least looks that way.

“Ella. What’s all this I’m hearing about Sethe?” “Tell me its’s in there with her. That’s all I know.” “The daughter? The killed one?” “How they know that’s her?” “It’s sitting there. Sleeps, eats and raises hell. Whipping Sethe every day.”

The ladies decided something had to be done about Beloved. Again, Morrison impressed me with how she wrote this part. The women go to remove the spirit or Beloved from 124. The women went to 124 with their “Christian faith - as a shield and sword.” The women continue to sing, Ella is in the midst of them and Denver and Sethe join them. Beloved disappears from 124, “Disappeared, some say, exploded right before their eyes.” I was shocked at the ending of Beloved and her stay at 124, but thought it was perfect. I never would have thought that for her demise, if it was actually her demise.

I feel that Beloved stood for so many people who died at the hands of others from the slave passage through to the days of slavery which takes place even today in other countries. To me Morrison may have wanted us to think of their voices that were silenced but wanted their stories told.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blog #1 Denver

Blog #1


In Beloved, I feel the strongest character was Denver. She had to be the strong one especially when everyone one else seemed to be falling apart. The beginning of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Denver is hidden behind her mother, Sethe’s shadow. Denver is the only child Sethe has after she has murdered her older daughter when she was small and the boys she had, ran away. Because Sethe can not let her past go, Denver lives a life as a recluse with her mom at 124. She does not have any friends and does not socialize with anyone. At the beginning she had her grandmother, Baby Suggs, but she later dies. Her brothers had already ran away so it just left Denver and her mother, Sethe. Denver’s place away from death and sorrow was in the boxwoods behind her house. There were boxwoods in a circle and with the perfume she wore made it seem peaceful and safe. The light from the sun shining through the boxwoods caused and emerald appearance to her. This was her refuge. She grows up with her hiding place, “First a playroom (where the silence was softer), then a refuge (from her brothers’ fright), soon the place became the point. In that bower, closed off from the hurt of the hurt world, Denver’s imagination produced its own hunger and its own food” (Pgs. 31 and 32).

If she had not had her own place away from the hurt, pain and confusion, she would have likely went mad.

There was a ghost at 124, “Full of baby’s venom,” who wanted her self know to Sethe, Denver, Baby Suggs, and later, Paul D. The ghost throughout does things to let herself be known but not until Denver hears her crawling up the stairs does she know the ghost must be that of a baby climbing the stairs. After that takes place the ghost becomes mean. The ghost was something of a being that Denver could relate to. In the book it said Denver would take the ghost over Paul D. who she felt was trying to take her place with her mother. The ghost would later come out of the water as Sethe’s daughter, Beloved. Now, Denver knew it had to be Sethe’s murdered daughter and took her as a friend. It was easy for her to get close to Beloved since she really did not have anyone remotely close to her age to communicate with. Beloved begins to suck her mother dry by becoming so dependent on her, Denver sees that her mother is quickly losing ground and her mental capability is slipping, because of this Denver is forced to make a change within herself and become dependent enough to go out of her house to seek help. This is a major challenge for Denver since she had not ventured out and was going to have to communicate with others in order to save her family. So she goes to a school teacher and tells her story. That lady and others help with food. Denver is the strong hold of the family. She has to gather food, clean and do clothes. Her mother becomes unable to do the simiplist things and Beloved will not do because she knew she did not have to. This is basically what Sethe did when she killed her daughter and tried to kill her sons, she was trying to protect them from the hardships of slavery and to do that she had to step outside of herself. What Denver did really was not the same as Sethe but what I am talking about is, she had to make a decision to step out of what was comfortable to her to help her family. Her family was starving and needed help and Denver went to get help.

To me Denver is an example of those who kept the slaves moving to freedom. I think she was very strong and had her family’s best interest at heart, just the way someone on the Underground Railway would have.


Thanks Dr. Griffiths for choosing this book for us to read. I have heard of it before but had never read it. WOW! I am posting some interesting info.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath

I believe Plath and Anne Sexton both had problems finding their real place in the world. As I wrote about Sexton, times were changing for women and they struggled to find their true identity. Plath was on an emotional rollercoaster partly because of her husband’s infidelity. She was so bright and had so much to offer as a writer. I still question why did so many choose suicide as the answer to their struggles. Her piece, Ariel is full of suicidal thoughts. The word choices she used, darkness, nigger-eye berries cast dark hooks, black sweet blood mouthfuls, shadows, deead hands, dead stringencies, suicidal, into the red eye , the red cauldron of morning, all of these words to me point toward someone who is very depressed. I am not saying you can not write dark poems unless you are suicidal but when someone already has a problem with depression writes lines like these, one tends to get the idea they are ready to take their own life. Now when I heard the interview below, I did not get that feeling, it is only when I read her work that I see depression. I feel she wanted to be free and I think that is where Lady Godiva comes into the poem. The freedom to ride her horse and feel free from whatever it was that was binding her. I find it so sad that the two women killed themselves but really had so much to live for. I feel like they were both tormented inside and wanted to get away from that torment and the only way as far as they were concerned was suicide, how sad...