Racial Tension In Toni Morrison'S Beloved

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A commonly addressed theme in African American literature is the dehumanization of the slaves in order for slave owners to increase power. In each of the novels we have read by African American authors we see this dynamic depicted. In Toni Morrison’s Beloved this idea is expressed and explicitly described in a way that pushes the reader far beyond the line of discomfort. We have discussed numerous times in class the importance of finding a new language to express oneself. Morrison expresses the atrocities of slavery in a language that I personally have never experienced before. Instead of the typical overused adjectives and factual descriptions she employs beautiful metaphor and a disturbing plot line to make her point. She is raw and shocking. This technique sheds a light on slavery and the purposeful dehumanization of the slave that is almost never depicted in the history books. It is important when talking about the effect of slavery to consider what it takes for the slave owner to be able to treat another human being in such a bestial way. Their owners stripped slaves of their human qualities and at the same time the slave owners became dehumanized themselves. The scene where Sethe’s milk is stolen is a powerful illustration of this idea. “After I left you those boys came in there and took my milk. That’s what they came in there for. Held me down and took it.” This act is obviously a violation of Sethe as a woman. I would argue that the white man acting in such a barbaric and despicable way shows a great deal of dehumanization in them as well. One cannot behave in such a way unless they have been hardened somehow. Acting savagely chips away a piece of ones own humanity just as it steals someone else’s. It is interesting to compare the similarities and differences between the two men who lead Sweet Home. Initially Mr. Garner comes off as the stereotype of the
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