Beloved by Toni Morrison is a novel that creates many interesting debates on the origins and understanding of the characters, and the assessment by A Snitow suggests that Morrison intended for each character in the story, no matter how broken or abused, to have a hope for redemption – to always reach for some kind of hope that would allow them to become whole again. This theme is a central one for most of the characters in the novel, and indeed the central idea of trying to achieve freedom follows this line of thinking. I will be analysing examples of Morrison’s attempts to illustrate this idea to us through her characters.
The past story of Sethe, Paul D, Halle and Baby Suggs refers repeatedly to their dream of achieving freedom and the hope that this freedom would make them whole. Their identity is defined by their slave master, and they do not allow themselves to feel as if they have a right to life or to the world they live in. The plan to escape from schoolteacher’s abuse represents the characters idea that freedom will give them something that they do not have, it will repair the damage that has been done to them. In planning to escape, we see that they are reaching for something that could be considered unobtainable, no matter how risky it would be to achieve it. The concept of freedom shows that Morrison intends to create an idea in the reader’s mind of what could be possible without the shackles of slavery. Sixo, for instance, dreams of having a family with the Thirty-Mile Woman, and sings with joy as he is burned to death because she “got away with his blossoming seed” (pg. 229). Sixo feels joy because he feels that a part of him, in the form of his unborn child, has broken free from slavery. His train of thought displays that he has dreamed of raising a family and living a life outside of slavery. This allows us to imagine Sixo, Paul D and the other slaves as free men.
A clear example of this concept is when Sethe, Paul D and Denver go to the fair....