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A Comparison of Beloved and Don Quixote

On reading Beloved by Toni Morrison and Don Quixote by Kathy Acker, there seem to be quite a few similarities in themes and characters contained in these texts, the most prevalent of which seems to be of love and language as a path to freedom. We see in Acker’s Don Quixote the abortion she must have before she embarks on a quest for true freedom, which is to love. Similarly, in Morrison’s Beloved, there is a kind abortion, the killing of Beloved by Sethe, which results in and from the freedom that real love provides. And in both texts, the characters are looking for answers and solutions in these “word-shapes” called language.

In Acker’s Don Quixote, the abortion with which the novel opens is a precondition for surrendering the “constructed self.” For Acker, the woman in position on the abortion table over whom a team of doctors and nurses work represents, in an ultimate sense, woman as a constructed object. The only hope is somehow to take control, to subvert the constructed identity on order to name oneself: “She had to name herself. When a doctor sticks a steel catheter into you while you’re lying on your back and you to; finally, blessedly, you let go of your mind. Letting go of your mind is dying. She needed a new life. She had to be named” (Don Quixote 9-10). And she must name herself for a man – become a man – before the nobility and the dangers of her ordeals will be esteemed. She is to be a knight on a noble quest to love “someone other than herself” and thus to right all wrongs and to be truly free.

In another of Acker’s works she writes: “Having an abortion was obviously just like getting fucked. If we closed our eyes and spread our legs, we’d be taken care of. They stripped us of our clothes. Gave us white sheets…

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… the end of the text by a community getting in touch with a “language of their own,” while Acker’s protagonist is subverting texts to find or create something this “primal.”

Don Quixote is far more easily paired with the ghost of Beloved. They both are searching for a language they can use and understand and know with the “word-shapes” that they are given. They are both on quests to find love and freedom that are not a product of “slavery.” They both are in search of a name, an identity, that is not a product of an “abortion.” They are both childlike yet adult, trying to understand. And neither of them are asking for, or offering, forgiveness.

Works Cited:

Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote. Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces.

Ed Mack, Maynard et al. WW Norton and Co. New York, NY. 1992.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York, Penguin Books USA Inc, 1988.

The Ghost of Toni Morrison’s Beloved

The Ghost of Beloved

One of the most engaging arguments about Toni Morrison’s book Beloved is centered around the nature of the girl Beloved. The argument is whether Beloved is simply a young woman who herself had suffered the horrors of slavery, or the ghost of Sethe’s crawling already? baby girl. The evidence shows that Morrison intended Beloved to be the ghost of the crawling already? girl.

It has been said that there are basically two reasons why ghosts walk: they have either unfinished business to attend to of have died a very violent death. The crawling already? girl fits both of these profiles. She died without growing up, without knowing why she died. As a result, she has unfinished business with her mother, Sethe. The crawling already? girl’s death was also horribly violent. Her mother cut her throat with a saw in the cold shed, rather than have her and her children be brought back into slavery.

Many of the clues that indicate Beloved is actually the ghost of the baby girl are within the passages where she first arrives at the house on Bluestone Road. Each of these things put together support the idea that Toni Morrison intended Beloved to be the ghost of the crawling already? baby girl.

The first clue is that she “had what sounded like asthma”, meaning that her breathing was labored. If Beloved is the ghost, it would make sense that she would have trouble breathing; after all, because the windpipe is found in the neck, and Beloved’s neck was nearly severed, her windpipe would have to have been severed also. She would have quick, raspy breathing, as people with asthma have when they can’t hold a breath.

Earlier in the book, Morrison talked about how the ghost slammed Here Boy into …

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…of the bread that Baby Suggs gave her. The burnt bottom pieces of the bread could have reminded her of the river that they crossed to get to 124. The river could have looked black because they crossed at night.

When all of the information is tallied up and the clues counted, all of the evidence points to the fact that Beloved is not a real woman, but the spirit if the baby girl come to life. She could have reanimated the body from the hunter’s cabin that Stamp Paid made a passing reference to, or maybe she created the body herself, and that’s why she was so worried it would fall apart. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that all of the evidence points to the fact that somehow, Beloved did come back to life. She is truly the ghost of the crawling already? baby girl.

Works Cited:

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York, Penguin Books USA Inc, 1988.

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