Beloved: Sethe's Character

"It is the ultimate gesture of a loving mother. It is the outrageous claim of a slave"(Morrison 1987). These are the words that Toni Morrison used to describe the actions of the central character within the novel, Beloved. That character, Sethe, is presented as a former slave woman who chooses to kill her baby girl rather than allowing her to be exposed to the physically, emotionally, and spiritually oppressive horrors of a life spent in slavery. Sethe's action is indisputable: She has killed her child, that terrible. Sethe's motivation is not so clearly defined. By killing her "Beloved" child, has Sethe acted out of true love or selfish pride? The fact that Sethe's act is irrational can ...

Want to read the rest of this paper?
Join Essayworld today to view this entire essay
and over 50,000 other term papers

slavery(Morrison 251). In this respect, her act is that of love for her children. The selfishness of Sethe's act lies in her refusal to accept personal responsibility for her baby's death. Sethe's motivation is dichotomous in that she displays her love by mercifully sparing her daughter from a horrific life, yet Sethe refuses to acknowledge that her show of mercy is also murder.
Throughout Beloved, Sethe's character consistently displays the stubburn nature of her actions. Not long after Sethe's reunion with Paul D. she describes her reaction to School Teacher's arrival: "Oh, no. I wasn't going back there[Sweet Home]. I went to jail instead"(Morrison 42). Sethe's words suggest that she has made a stand by her refusal to allow herself and her children to be dragged back into the evil of slavery. From the beginning, it is clear that Sethe believes that her actions were justified. This is stupid she is basing this on the murder of a child. By not even approaching the subject of her ...

Get instant access to over 50,000 essays.
Write better papers. Get better grades.

Already a member? Login

and when she saw them coming and recognized schoolteacher's hat, she heard wings. Little hummingbirds stuck their needle beaks right through her headcloth into her hair and beat their wings. And if she thought anything, it was No. No. Nono. Nonono. Simple. She just flew. Collected every bit of life she had made, all the parts of her that were precious and fine and beautiful, and carried, pushed, dragged them thought the veil, out, away, over there where no one could hurt them"(163).

Sethe's frustration is a product of her contradictory reasoning. She views her children as an extension of her life that needed to be protected, at any cost. Sethe's concept of loving and ...

Succeed in your coursework without stepping into a library.
Get access to a growing library of notes, book reports,
and research papers in 2 minutes or less.


Beloved: Sethe's Character. (2006, January 9). Retrieved August 13, 2020, from
"Beloved: Sethe's Character.", 9 Jan. 2006. Web. 13 Aug. 2020. <>
"Beloved: Sethe's Character." January 9, 2006. Accessed August 13, 2020.
"Beloved: Sethe's Character." January 9, 2006. Accessed August 13, 2020.
Join today and get instant access to this and 50,000+ other essays

Added: 1/9/2006 03:53:02 PM
Category: Book Reports
Type: Free Paper
Words: 1616
Pages: 6

Save | Report


Save and find your favorite essays easier

Beloved: Sethe's Motivation For...
Beloved: Sethe And Her Daughter
Beloved 2
Beloved By Toni Morrison
Beloved 2
Beloved. Who Or What Is Belove
Hesse's Siddhartha: Siddhartha'...
The Scarlet Letter: Roger's Cha...
Macbeth: Macbeth's Character
Copyright | Cancel | Contact Us

Copyright © 2020 Essayworld. All rights reserved