I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
Very uncomfortable reading for me. Disturbing and (literally) haunting. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and written by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, Beloved tells the story of a family’s life before and after their escape from slavery. Sethe and her daughter Denver live in isolation at 124 in the countryside near Cincinnati. Also ‘present’ in the house is the ghost of Sethe’s other daughter, nicknamed Beloved, who died when she was two. Sethe fled to Ohio from Kentucky many years before after escaping from her owners at ‘Sweet Home.’ Also at Sweet Home was Paul D., who has now come to Ohio to look for Sethe. Soon after Paul D.’s arrival at 124, he drives the baby ghost out; however it’s not long before a strange young woman is found near the house and who calls herself Beloved.
I had a very difficult time following the story at first, and I’d probably understand it much better if I re-read it at some point. The storyline unravels as it goes along, and we see bit by bit the horrors that Sethe escaped from. Her actions are also called into question. Her mental state is dubious. But whose wouldn’t be after undergoing the ordeals she has gone through?
Other people went crazy, why couldn’t she?
I didn’t enjoy this book, but I don’t think readers are supposed to. The subject matter is difficult, and I don’t like hearing the horror stories of Beloved or Maus. At the same time, I realize they are necessary and I’ll continue to force myself to read them.
1987, 275 pp.