Beloved Essay: Supernatural A major part of the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison is the case of someone being haunted. The supernatural element pervades the novel. The characters are haunted by the past, because of the choices they’ve made and the things they’ve done. All of the characters were affected by slavery, but Sethe, Denver, and Paul D are haunted by the past that stretches and grasps them in 124. Beloved’s character is an obvious use of the supernatural. She’s like a vampire that sucks the soul, the heart, and the mind of her mother while draining the relationships that exists between Denver with Sethe and Sethe with Paul D.
Sethe is the most dramatically haunted in the book. She is the one whose past is so horrible that it is inescapable. How can she escape the past when it is physically apart of her? She is the one who was permanently scarred by slavery both literally and figuratively. She has scars left from being whipped that she calls a “tree”. She describes it as “A chokecherry tree. Trunk, branches, and even leaves. Tiny little chokecherry leaves. But that was eighteen years ago. Could have cherries too now for all I know” (pg. 16). She is the one went through slavery and escaped it.
She decided to murder her own child rather than allow her to be forced into slavery, because she had suffered so much from it. It is inclined that her past is represented on her back, meaning that it is something that is behind her, something she cannot see but knows that is there. Sethe knows that the past has attached itself to her but the haunting of it has not stopped growing. Sethe doesn’t seem to recognize that the haunting is physically with her the whole time, because it drains the life out of her. When Paul D enters Sethe’s life, he discovers a haunting of Sethe almost immediately.
He walks into 124 and notices that there is an unwanted spirit in the house, “It was sad. Walking through it, a wave of grief soaked him so thoroughly he wanted to cry” (pg. 9). Paul D stopped Beloved’s haunting, in her spirit form, the first time by screaming “God damn it! Hush up! Leave the place alone! Get the Hell out! ” (pg. 18). But Beloved is Sethe’s greatest haunt and it is when Beloved arrives in physical form that Sethe is forced to turn around and confront the past. The reversal of power from Sethe to Beloved is when Beloved started to become like a parasite to Sethe.
The parasitic aspect of motherhood is amplified in this novel, like the way the fetus is a parasite to the mother’s uterus, sucking the life from and continues to nourish its body by taking the mother’s body and nutrients. Beloved is the supernatural representation of this. Her mind and actions speak as a child not an adult. She loves her mother and wants her all to herself like a little two year old child. She even loves Denver like a little sister, but she is also jealous of her and the relationship she has with her mother and the fact that Denver survived and she didn’t.
Beloved claims Sethe “I am Beloved and she is mine” (pg. 210). A typical two year old will do anything to get what she wanted, so Beloved “made demands. Anything she wanted she got, and when Sethe ran out of things to give her, Beloved invented desire” (pg. 240). Beloved has taken so much from Sethe that Sethe’s mental capacities decline because she has given up any thought of life other than focusing on taking care of Beloved and nothing else. Her own guilt had made it so easy for her to be entrapped by Beloved.
The idea of Beloved leaving would crush her, as a result her greatest fear was “that Beloved might leave. That before Sethe could make her understand what it meant-what it took to drag the teeth of that saw under the little chin; to feel the baby blood pump like oil in her hands; to hold her face so her head would stay on… ” (pg. 251). Sethe didn’t do anything, can’t do anything except “those times when Beloved needed her… she sat in the chair licking her lips like a chastised child while Beloved ate up her life, took it, swelled up with it, grew taller on it.
And the older woman yielded it up without a murmur” (pg. 250) Towards the end of the novel, Beloved switched from being an innocent child who just wanted to be with her mother, she became an evil deceitful child who wants revenge from her mother for killing her. Sethe’s guiltiness made it that much easier for her to do so. When Paul D first showed up at the doorstep of 124, he seemed aware of the necessity of confronting the past in order to escape its grip. He tried to help Sethe forgive herself and she should feel safe about venturing “inside” her painful memories.
When Beloved’s arrival forces Sethe to face the past and the memories began to consume her completely. The only way Sethe can escape Beloved’s hold is only with the help of those around her. Denver tries to keep Sethe alive; the community helps to expel Beloved; Paul D supports Sethe by telling her that she, not her children, is her own best thing. The only way they can possibly enjoy the future together is to deal with the past. The supernatural aspect played a big role in the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison. The characters are haunted by their pasts, from the choices that they’ve made and the things that they’ve done.
The characters wanted to forget the past and leave it all behind, because “this is not a story to pass on. ” The narrator’s warning is intended to remind us that it is not easy to keep that history in our memory, but it is not helpful for us to remember it either. Forgetting the past could be done if there is nothing that will remind the person about it, but how can it be forgotten when the past is haunting you in the physical form? Sethe was lucky the people around her helped her snap out of it and continue on with her life.