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Essay on Toni Morrison’s Beloved – Freedom and Independence

Freedom and Independence in Beloved

Toni Morrison’s important novel Beloved is a forceful picture of the black American experience. By exploring the impact slavery had on the community, Beloved evolves around issues of race, gender, and the supernatural. By revealing the story of slavery and its components, Morrison declares the importance of independence as best depicted by Sixo. The combination of an individual amongst a community sets forth the central theme of moving from slavery to freedom and reconnecting with family and community.

Sixo is one of the nine slaves living on Sweet Home, a Kentucky plantation. A young man in his twenties, Morrison introduces him as “the wild man” (11) without explanation. Later, Paul D describes Sixo as “Indigo with a flame-red tongue” (21). He is closer to the African experience then the other slaves. Morrison portrays Sixo as the odd man out in an attempt at underlining the idea of an individual in a community. Community at Sweet Home is the only reassuring object possessed by the slaves. The relationship among fellow slaves creates a “mock” community, which is enough to satisfy everyone. Morrison utilizes Sixo as rebellious and clever, one who refuses to conform to his predicament. Physically a slave, Sixo rejects his position and remains a spirited man who takes night walks and dances among the trees to keep his bloodlines open. Although black sexuality is dominated by slavery, he chooses his own woman and controls his own destiny. Sixo “plotted down to the minute a thirty-mile trip to see a woman.” (21) Despite the bounds of slavery, Sixo asserts his independence and searched for a better life and family of his own. In an attempt to free himself from the restrai…

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…Sixo’s characterization defines how slaves managed to remain people despite slavery. Morrison places Sixo in the novel Beloved, to express the manifestation of community as well as individualism. Sixo uses the strengths of the Sweet Home community to independently search for an identity of his own. Without the consistent community of Sweet Home, Sixo could not of ventured upon journey after journey in search of personal freedom. The steady community enabled Sixo to express a rebellious independence, that otherwise would have been lost. Sixo maintained a sense of self, lost by many others. Beloved explains that the independent spirit and the belief in personal self worth can not be maintained without the presence of an impermeable community, and the individual desire for freedom.

Works Cited:

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

Comparing Loss of Self in Soldiers Home, Paul’s Case, and Bartleby

Loss of Self in Hemingway’s Soldiers Home, Cather’s Paul’s Case, and Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener

Hemingway’s “Soldiers Home,” Cather’s “Paul’s Case,” and Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener” all present a loss of self. These stories prove that there is a fine line between finding one’s self and losing one’s self. I believe this loss can occur at any age or station of life. This idea is seen in each story’s main character.

Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home” depicts a young man in his early twenties after his return from World War I. The young man, Krebs, has arrived home too late. Thus, he doesn’t receive the adulation of the town as the others did. This first loss was the beginning of a long inward journey for Krebs. His unwillingness, then inability, to discuss his part in the war with others immediately had an effect on Krebs. He was unable to get some form of closure, something which he direly needed. Due to the extravagant stories foretold by others, Krebs was forced to lie in order to fit in.

These lies bothered Krebs. They not only went against him morally, but they also started to deteriorate his feelings about the war: “A distaste for everything that had happened to him in the war set in because of the lies he had told. All the times that had been able to make him feel cool and clear inside himself when he thought of them….now lost their cool, valuable quality and then were lost themselves” (224). Earl Rovit explains this even further stating, “if he can’t trust in truth of these experiences, he will then have lost everything” (255). These feelings that Krebs has are not unfamiliar. This situation is seen in a handful of other stories of the times, but Hemingway’s story “delineates the desperate inc…

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…: 189-194.

Cather, Willa. “Paul’s Case.”The American Short Story. Volume II. Ed. Calvin Skaggs. New York: Dell, 1980:160-180.

Decker, Timothy. “The Mechanization of a Scrivener.” Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville. URL:

Hemingway, Ernest. “Soldier’s Home.” The American Short Story. Volume I. Ed. Calvin Skaggs. New York: Dell, 1977: 224-231.

Hyzack,Greg. “The Mentally Disturbed Scrivener.” Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville. URL:

Melville, Herman. “Bartleby the Scrivener.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: St. Martin’s, 1995: 513-539.

Rovit, Earl. “On Ernest Hemingway and ‘Soldier’s Home.'” The American Short Story. Volume I. Ed. Calvin Skaggs. New York: Dell, 1977: 251-255.

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