Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Summary by Amazon:
"Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement."

Review by the NY Times, "Jaunted by their Nightmares", Margaret Atwood:

Interview with Toni Morrison in 2001: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulQLCc5m-_I

Interview with The Guardian in 2012: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/apr/13/toni-morrison-home-son-love

Inteview segment for Oprah's Life Class: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/Does-Your-Face-Light-Up-Video

Facebook Page for Toni Morrison: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialToniMorrisonAuthor

The Toni Morrison Societyhttp://www.tonimorrisonsociety.org/index.html

About the movie, Beloved, 1998: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120603/

Discussion Questions from LitLovers:
1. Consider the extent to which slavery dehumanizes individuals by stripping them of their identity, destroying their ability to conceive of the self. Consider, especially, Paul and how he can't determine whether screams he hears are his or someone else's. How do the other characters reflect self-alienation?

2. Discuss the different roles of the community in betraying and protecting the house at 124. What larger issue might Morrison be suggesting here about community.

3. What does Beloved's appearance represent? What about her behavior? Why does she finally disappear—what drives her departure? And why is the book's title named for her? 

4. Talk about the choice Sethe made regarding her children when schoolteacher arrives to take them all back to Sweet Home. Can her actions be justified—are her actions rational or irrational?

5. What does the narrator mean by the warning at the end: this is not a story to pass on." Is he right...or not.

Reading guide: