Can killing one's child ever be justified in any circumstance? Can we be pressured or oppressed so much that murder becomes the only solution, much worse murder of your own blood in the name of love? The main reason for Sethe’s murder of Beloved was that of a desire to protect her from the ugly brutality of slavery in her lifetime. This is a paradox of momentous proportions.
The novel is set at a time where black people in the United States were subjected to slavery and cheap labour. White men were in the habit of raping black girls and Sethe was a victim of this horrific experience as well. The whole idea about slavery was to make black people see themselves as less human and have a sense of low self-esteem. This is demonstrated in a couple of ways but an example would be how Sethe felt when she walked in on a teacher teaching his white learners about salves’ animal characteristics.
When Sethe was raped and her rapists squeezed her milk out, mentioned in the book as ‘stealing her milk,’ Sethe is affected by this experience for a long time. When Halle, her husband witnesses this experience and is unable to do anything about it, it affects him to a point of insanity. Other slaves including Paul D, who becomes Sethe’s house mate and lover, are also affected by the slavery, torture and treatment they grow up in. Paul D wonders about what it means to be a man and if he can be a ‘man.’ These are some of the feelings and outcomes of having grown up in such a society where being black meant being inferior and of no importance.
Denver narrates a story out of Beloved’s insistence about how she was born. She explains to Beloved how her mother, Sethe who had recently escaped from slavery went through. As a single mother, Sethe worried about how she would protect her daughter from white rape that she and other black women at the time went through. Denver though disappointed that Beloved’s ‘return’ was to see her mom and not to spend time with...