Beloved- Scars Tell Stories

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Scars tell Stories in Beloved Scars are an incredible means of story telling throughout Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved. As the story of Sethe and her children unfold, scars are seen on the skin of many characters, and along with them are deep painful memories that cannot be repressed. Within the first chapter, scars are seen on Sethe’s back as she explains to Paul D. the traumatic events that occurred on the plantation where they both once lived as slaves. These scars set a stage and a metaphor for the scars, both figurative and literal, to come. Morrison demonstrates that scars are much like painful pasts that people wish to hide and forget. But much like the scars that cover Sethe’s back, are the memories that the characters of Beloved cannot deny. Sethe’s scars in Beloved are first seen in the opening chapter. She tells Paul D. how she was beat years ago at Sweet Home, and refers to the scars that formed as a “tree”. Sethe explains, “Schoolteacher made one open up on my back, and when it closed it made a tree. It grows there still” (17). At this point, the reader is unaware of just how many other hidden scars Sethe has. Besides the visible scars, Sethe is scarred by a series of traumatic events that she attempts to not acknowledge, but just like her visible scars, the past events of her life linger with her. Eventually it is discovered that Sethe is the one responsible for her daughter’s death—the same daughter that now haunts her home at 124. Sethe does all that she can to move on with life and pretend that the murder never occurred. She speaks about the murder to no one and even when directly questioned, she fails to bluntly answer. Even Denver, Sethe’s living daughter turns a deaf ear to the murder. Morrison writes, “Even when she did muster the courage to ask Nelson Lord’s question, she could not hear Sethe’s answer . . . nor anything at all there after”
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