Beloved by Toni Morrison was not at all what I expected it to be. I thought it was a book about the African American experience, which it is but I had no idea it we also a ghost story. I had heard about it from other people but I really didn't know a thing about it other than that people generally liked it. I'm not going to lie, I didn't love it. It was interesting to a point and it definitely captured my attention but it won't jump to the top of my list anytime soon.
Whenever I start a book about the African American experience in slavery and beyond I always expect that I will have no way to relate, but I have been wrong every time. I love that the authors I have read have used their novels to deal with broad themes that are applicable to everyone. I still am horrified by the images of slavery and struggle but I love that the novelists also talk about the idea of freedom, family, individuality, love and what will break the human spirit.
I am not sure what I think of Sethe as a character but I am a big fan of Denver and Paul D. I am always interested in the fact that really traumatized stories of slavery and other forms of human torture always leave characters looking to the past. in the books I have read, and in my own life au have found that alone leave you in a state that will stagnant you and twist you in ways that are not good. That definitely happened for Sethe with her responses towards white people and her clinging on to Beloved. I k ow it happened for me when I defined my existence by what I didn't have instead of looking to better myself. I think that a line that Baby Sugs said really points towards that idea that if you can't imagine something for yourself it won't happen. "she told them that the only grace they could have was the grace they could imagine. If they could not see it, they would not have it."
I also liked the poetry aspect of the novel. There are parts of it that are just scattered fragments of imagery and emotion. Those pieces have the feeling of poetry and help convey the mood of the novel even though it isn't always clear what they are referring to.
One other final quote I liked was this: " Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming yourself was another."
I am always fascinated by this element of the African American experience ( and other minority groups) they more often then not define themselves by collective experience instead of by individual things. I think a blend of both is good but the collective experience is certainly something that is lost on most caucasian Canadians/American. At least in my experience we are often lacking a sense of history and the importance of shared experience. This book feels similar to invisible man in that it details the struggle of a person to claim their personal identity in addition to their culture. You can see that Denver makes a solid start towards this an it offers hope that maybe Sethe begins to as well.