Beloved By: Toni Morrison “justify the murder of sethe children”
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The strength of an ox, Sethe took her children to what she considered to be a better life of freedom and peace of mind. Sure that running to baby Suggs home would bring her a newfound respect for herself, she didn’t think of the schoolteacher finding her. Sethe had great love for her children. Her attempt to kill them all was extremely brutal but in some cases hardly but justifiable. The question is whether it was done out of love or a way to free herself?
Sethe, is a former slave who I consider to be a exceedingly strong black woman who chooses to kill her baby girl rather than allowing her to be exposed to the physically, and emotionally damaging horrors of a life spent in slavery. There is no other way to see it other than she murdered her child. By killing her child, so dear to her heart, the question arises to us whether Sethe acted out of true love or selfishness. The fact that Sethe’s act is irrational can easily be decided upon. A question I ask my self to justify her doing is does Sethe kill her baby girl because she wants to save the baby from slavery or does Sethe end her daughter’s life because of a selfish refusal to reenter a life of slavery? By examining the complexities of Sethe’s character it can be said that she is a woman who chooses to love her children but not herself. Sethe kills her baby because, in Sethe’s mind, her children are the only good and pure part of who she is and must be protected from the cruelty and the “dirtiness” of slavery. In this respect, her act is that of love for her children.
The selfishness of Sethe’s act lies in her refusal to accept personal responsibility for her baby’s death. She continuously says she didn’t want them to be born there Sethe’s motivation is dichotomous in that she displays her love by mercifully sparing her daughter from a horrific life, yet Sethe refuses to acknowledge that her show of mercy is also murder. Throughout Beloved, Sethe’s character consistently displays the duplistic nature of her actions. Not long after Sethe’s reunion with Paul D. she describes her reaction to Schoolteacher’s arrival: “Oh, no. I wasn’t going back there [Sweet Home]. I went to jail instead” using her Children as a way to avoid going back she killed them as her freedom. Sethe’s words suggest that she has made a moral stand by her refusal to allow herself and her children to be dragged back into the evil of slavery. From the beginning, it is clear that Sethe believes that her actions were morally justified. The peculiarity of her statement lies in her omission of the horrifying fact that her moral stand was based upon the murder of her child.
By not even approaching the subject of her daughter’s death, it is also made clear that Sethe has detached herself from the act. Even when Paul D. learns of what Sethe has done and confronts her with it, Sethe still skirts the reality of her past. Sethe describes her reasoning to Paul D., “… So when I got here, even before they let me get out of bed, I stitched her a little something from a piece of cloth Baby Suggs had. Well, all I’m saying is that’s a selfish pleasure I never had before. I couldn’t let all that go back to where it was, and I couldn’t let her or any of em live under Schoolteacher. That was out”Sethe’s love for her children is apparent, yet she still shifts the burden of responsibility away from herself. She acknowledges that it was a “selfish pleasure” to make something for her daughter, yet Sethe refuses to admit any selfishness in her act of murder. She is indignant and frustrated with Paul D. confronting her.
Sethe had a love for her children and her life that she committed a crime that was in a way understandable due to the circumstances. Although she denied it her actions were selfish. Using her children as a way to escape slavery and returning to sweet home, she believed she was sending them to a better place. Her decision was a hunting one, but when Beloved returned out of love and a little guilt she cherished and gave her everything she wanted which in a way she begin to forget about Denver, not noticing her jealousy. The relationship Sethe and Beloved had was at first a good one until Beloved started to hate Sethe for her murder. Sethe Was giving her all to Beloved then she became very ill after taking care of a pregnant Beloved. This was like a pay back to Sethe for her actions.
To justify what Sethe did would be your own choice, but her love and for her children took over her physically and emotionally. Her Sweet home life had to be put into her past. This meaning what ever she had to do had to be done. Sethe was a strong and ambition woman who had the “Iron Eyes” and the strength to raise a family in a haunted home as an independent woman. Sethe should be consider a tough and driven woman.