Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 1 decade ago

Whats the best way to understand Beloved?

Im reading Beloved by toni morisson. I got to tell ya, i HATE IT.

I heard bad reviews from everyone who read it.

I need to find a way to get through this book for school in time, without having to read it manually. I have a few days, and reading it normally is useless. Any suggestions :(

7 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    I hated this book when I was in high school. I didn't understand it. I thought it was awful. Then, I reread it in college and I loved it. Love it. So, here's what I suggest. There are a few things that might help you understand the book. First of all, understand that Toni Morrison writes a lot about the African-American codes of femininity. Remember that this novel is a Romance. Not a romance, like a harlequin romance, but a Romance as in Hawthorne Romance. According to William Congreve, Romance can be defined like this: "THe Novel is a picture of real life and manners, and of the times in which it was written. The Romance in lofty and elevated language, describes what HAS NEVER HAPPENED NOR IS LIKELY TO." (Last bit is VERY important in Beloved.) Also, African American literature must always grapple with the fact that literature is a white man's construct, and that most ideas about blackness come from white people (according to Morrison.)

    Specifics about Beloved that are important to keep in mind:

    1. For Sethe, the fact that the men took her milk is far more important and devastating then the fact that they beat the tree on her back.

    2. Paul D's effect on the house and the women. Early in the book it says that he could make a woman cry just by being there. There is something soft and gentle about him. That's why Beloved (when she comes back in an adult body) is threatened by him. That's why she drives him out of the house.

    3. Denver's overall character. I believe that this is Denver's story. I believe that she is the one that comes of age in this novel and that it is ultimately she who has the power to drive out Beloved. This is really important because of how attached she was to that baby ghost. She felt incredibly lonely after the ghost left. Denver gets upset whenever people talk about the past or stories that don't involve her. So, the fact that she was willing to go to the other women to seek help says A LOT about her character-her changing character.

    4. How Beloved behaves when she returns in the adult body. She still behaves like a child. Also, the fact that she craves sweets- that is symbolic of the dead. Beloved thinks several times in the novel that she is going to fall apart (remember when her tooth comes out?) also indicative of a decaying body, which essentially she is occupying.

    5. Paul D's extreme want to open up to Sethe about the past, but his inability to do so. Likewise, Sethe's need to tell Paul D the truth about Beloved, but her inability to do so. This shows the depths of Sethe and Pauls relationship, but also shows the difficulty it is for them to let go of the past. That brings us to the overall theme of the novel. Beloved is aboslutely one hundred percent representative or symbolic of a slave's past. She is symbolic of Sethe's inabiltity to move on with her life. That is why Beloved hangs around.

    6. The reason that Sethe killed already-crawling?girl (Beloved) in the first place: Sethe thought it would be better to kill her children then to be forced to return them to Sweet Home where they would be raised and sold as slaves.

    I've probably rambled on far longer about this book then you would have cared for me too, but those are things I think are important in helping you to understand it so you can get through it. If you have any questions, or need to discuss it, please e-mail me. I would be more than happy to go over it with you. There are SEVERAL important passages that are essential to understanding the novel, but are far too long for me to type and explain here. So, like I said, if you want to, e-mail me and I can help you further.


    Source(s): English Grad Student/tutor/ I've taught Beloved to both high schoolers and undergraduate students.
  • 1 decade ago

    I saw Toni Morisson speak once. In reply to the comment that her books are hard to read, she said that they are hard to write, too.

    I have avoided reading Beloved, but I did read The Bluest Eyes. Something I got out of it, especially the beginning, was a real heartfelt identification with some horrible, dreadful people. I could recognize their humanity, i.e. they are just like me, while at the same time recognizing them as being pretty messed up and doing horrible things to each other (domestic warfare). It made me realize that normally I distance myself from people like that, only passing judgement on them, without bothering to empathize or even recognize them as being not so different from myself as I might assume.

    It was not pleasant, but it was interesting.

  • 1 decade ago

    I would normally say watch the movie, but it is as hard to understand as the book. Might help though and can't hurt. At least you will know the important parts even if you don't know the reasons behind it. How can people say Toni Morrison is such a great writer, when I can't understand any of her books. The bluest eye is the only one worth reading. Good luck.

  • 1 decade ago

    ANY Toni Morrison book is a project to read, but they are all worth it. Hey, if this is for a school assignment, get some of those book notes they sell in the store. But then, I would recommend you STILL go back and read the book at your own pace. Do that for yourself. Good Luck and Happy Reading!

    Source(s): I've tried to read it! Plus, I have read a couple of Mz. Toni's other works (Sula & The Bluest Eye).
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  • 1 decade ago

    1. Go to a link where it says literature, then it has synopsis on every single book you'll ever need for school, including beloved by alphabetical order.


    2. ask for cliff notes at your local library or book store.

    3. Watch the terrible movie....

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Her books are hard to understand. Read a review first. See the movie. You'll understand it and maybe feel like reading it through.

  • 1 decade ago

    Just read it. Take how many days you have left before your assignment is due, divide that into how many pages are in the book and read that amount per day.

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