|Beloved by Toni Morrison|
Author: Toni Morrison
Length: 324 pages
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction.
Publisher / Year: First by Charto and Windus/1987; then by
Vintage/1997 (I read the Vintage version)
Source: The Hub , Enugu
Why I Read It: Out of Curiosity. Heard it
discussed in BBC’s World Book Club and I admired her erudition and effluence.
Date Read: 20/07/12
Reviewed by: Chioma Iwunze-Ibiam
Set in the 1800s, the story is divided into two
basic parts: the past and the present. Most of the past shows how the slaves of
Sweet Home lived before they dispersed in search of freedom and greener
pastures. The present, on the other hand is set in Ohio County, Kentucky.
The novel opens with Sethe and her daughter,
Denver, dealing with the ghost’s fury in their haunted house. From the way the
outrage is handled, it’s obvious that Seethe and Denver have grown accustomed
to the ghost’s ravaging visits. But not the neighbours because 124 is one house
nobody visits. Sethe had two sons who ran away from 124 because they were
afraid of Sethe, and tired of the haunted house. it is a story about slaves and
their pre-slavery absolution and post-slavery absolution experiences.
Characters like Paul D, Beloved, Halle, SixO and Headmaster, propel the prose
forward; up to its climax and down again to it’s resolution.
Paul D’s appearance at 124 changes everything. First,
he beats off the ghost. Then, Sethe basks in the warmth of his love. Their conversations
enlighten about their days of slavery at Sweet Home. Then, a strange girl
(named Beloved) worms her way into the lives of the occupants of 124. Slowly,
she seeks retribution. Paul D is her first victim and she is ruthless and
tactful in the way she evicts Paul D. it is only when things start to fall to
apart that Beloved’s personality becomes revealed to the adults. Beloved is the
The tone of the story is calm and imbued with the
rhythms and cadences of prose poetry. The high diction and literary language of
the narrative makes the story a little bit difficult to read. But I found the
experience rewarding. In fact, there was a chapter I reread five times because
I was in love with the structure. Actually, it was the chapter about Paul D’s
involuntary move out of 124. The effect of Toni Morrison’s narrative is both
magical and enchanting; it forces the reader to shut out all doubt and to
absorb the story without necessarily analyzing its plausibility.
Reading Beloved was in itself, a completely new
experience for me. The journey was worth it. I felt genuinely in love with the
story, in a way that I haven’t felt in quite some time. Why had I waited so
long to read any of Toni Morrision’s books? There’s so much to learn from her prose
poetry. My curiosity has opened up a deep longing for her prose poetry. Is this
how beautiful writing should make a person feel?
Labels: Beloved, Book Review, Denver, Halle, Paul D, Review of Toni Morrrison's Beloved, Sethe, Six0, Toni Morrison