Slavery from the sin which is slavery so that

Slavery is a wound that has been
festering for centuries with no easy way of healing it. Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved, showcases these controversial
topics through powerful biblical allusions and symbolism. Christianity was a
common religious belief among American citizens in the 1800’s practiced by both
slaves and slaveholders. Morrison uses Christian references to the trinity to showcase
the injustices of slavery.  This is done
through the development of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit given to
characters of the novel.

With biblical allusions and symbolism,
Morrison gives the role of the Father to Sethe to exhibit the turmoil’s and
consequences of slavery. First, it must be addressed that the name Sethe is the
female version of Seth, who is the son of Adam and Eve. Therefore, giving the
main character this name signifies that Sethe is not an ordinary woman and will
end up doing remarkable things. Sethe, as the Creator in the Holy Trinity,
shows ownership of her children by giving them a home where they can be free
rather than stuck in the confides of Sweet Home. She states “I birthed them and
I got em out, it was no accident, I did that… me using my own head” (188).

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Nothing God does for all his children on this earth is by accident; He has a
plan and so did Sethe with her divine love and dedication to her children. Sethe
was never thanked for the love and sacrifice she had for her children, but
instead was ridiculed and hated, just like how God is hated for constant worldly
injustices. The concept of ultimate sacrifice is made when Sethe kills “the
crawling already” baby by feeling the need to willingly offer something as
precious as an offspring with the belief that something of higher value would
be given in return. God, the Father, sacrificed His only son to save human
beings from the penalty of sin. In contrast, Sethe sacrificed her baby to
relieve the baby and the rest of her children from the sin which is slavery so
that they can lead better lives. This could be a metaphor of freeing the entire
human race with the sacrifice of one individual. Therefore, Sethe is seen as
the Father in the Holy Trinity in Beloved
through the use of biblical metaphors and allusions.

Morrison uses the common biblical theme
of love and powerful tree symbolism to reinforce Sethe’s portrayal of the
Father. Love is not only a well-known theme in the Bible, but it is also used
often in Beloved. Often it was found
that slaves did not allow themselves to feel love due to their mistreatment in
regards to physical and mental abuse. During the duration of his life, Paul D
only granted himself to love “small and in secret” (260). Sethe went against
all these constraints to show an unimaginable love for anyone who was a part of
her life. Paul D even complained that her “love is too thick” (193) and that it
is dangerous to love like that in the world they lived in. Sethe responded that
“love is or love ain’t. Thin love is no love at all” (194). God, the Father,
has an endless and eternal amount of love that is perfect. His love for His
children is never hindered, but is everlasting. Sethe always chooses love
whether the situation permitted it or not, including the time when she took in
Beloved just because she needed help. The perfect love that was between Sethe,
Denver and Beloved was apparent from their self-sacrifices. The tree symbolism
in Beloved is another indicator of
Sethe being the Father in the Holy Trinity. Amy Denver, the white indentured
slave, was the first to point out that the scar started to resemble a tree, “a
chokecherry tree” (93). The Tree of Life, in the Bible, represents the cycle of
life, death and resurrection in the Garden of Eden. In the Book of Genesis, the
Tree of Life is described as knowledge of good and evil. Sethe wearing this
tree on her back signifies that she is the carries this immense burden of
knowing the true wrongs in the world. Also it can be seen that “The leaves of
the tree of life serve for the healing of nations” (Rev 22:2). In relation to
this novel, the leaves on Sethe’s back is a metaphor for healing the racial
differences and conflicts that are consequences of slavery. The theme of love
and the tree symbolism in Beloved
help to solidify Sethe’s role as the Father in the Holy Trinity.

Giving Sethe the role of the Father helps
to exemplify the turmoil of slavery through broad symbolism. Sethe is given the
quality of being omnipresent. Though freed legally, she still lives life
enslaved by her memory, or rememory as Morrison describes it. Rememory is a
past experience that cannot only be remembered by the one who participated in
the event but also can be seen by others who pass by the place of occurrence.

For Sethe, as the Creator, the past, present, and future meld into eternity
where time fails to heal wounds inflicted upon her as well as others at Sweet
Home. Therefore, Morrison manifests the character of Sethe to be the symbol of
the brutal reality of slavery, where she is burdened with painful, repressed
memories where she can always think of slavery as an imminent threat. Therefore,
Sethe drives to protect her family from the dehumanization slavery imposed on her.

In this case, her family is a symbol for all of those who are in danger of
being enslaved once again because everyone is God’s children. Sethe provided a
strong symbol as the Father in the Holy Trinity to showcase the barbarism of
slavery through allusions and metaphors.

Morrison labelled Beloved as The Son in
the Holy Trinity through obscure allusions and symbolism to the Bible to
further enhance the spotlight on slavery.  In the Bible, the Son, or Jesus Christ, died
for the sins of all human beings then rose from the dead 3 days later. It is no
coincidence that Beloved was introduced as “A fully dressed woman {who} walked
out of the water” (60) a few days after the ghost from 124 disappeared. Water
is strongly associated with birth and rebirth in the Bible as it is used to
cleanse and give rebirth to one’s soul during baptism. The only thing Beloved
can remember is standing on a bridge, which is often used as a metaphor for the
transition between life and death. Therefore, Beloved is a reincarnation of the
“crawling already” baby who was also the ghost in 124. When Sethe killed this
baby, her blood was taken up by Denver when she was still nursing from Sethe,
providing a metaphor that this was an act of communion. Communion occurs when
people drink Jesus’ blood, or wine in modern times, in remembrance of Him. Another
symbol Morrison used to indicate that Beloved is considered the Son in the
trinity was the scars on her neck. Denver was convinced when she saw the scar
on Beloved’s throat that she was her sister. This brings to mind Jesus’
disciple Thomas who was not convinced of his Lord’s identity after the
resurrection until he saw the scar from the nails on His hands (John 20:24-29).

Having Beloved represent Jesus Christ allows, not only Sethe to feel relief and
forgiveness from her guilt, but relief and forgiveness of all human beings from
their sin. Later in the novel, Sethe and Denver declare their procession over
Beloved saying “Beloved, she my daughter” (236) and “Beloved is my sister”
(242) respectively. However, Beloved is the only who states herself instead of
the others by saying “I am Beloved” (248). This can be paralleled to the Bible
where Jesus answers to people with “I am” statements, such as “I who speak to
you am He” (John 4:26). All the evidence further roots Beloveds character to
representing the Son in the Holy Trinity.

Through the careful characterization of
Beloved as representation of the Son in the Holy Trinity, Morrison uses this
character to exemplify the cruelty of slavery. She is the embodiment of the
enslaved experience. Beloved was crippled with the immensity of slavery that is
placed onto Beloved in her human form. This is similar to the inconceivable
wrath of God which is placed onto His son, Jesus Christ, to bear the burden of
sin in this world. Morrison eloquently places a wide range of experiences into
the character Beloved, including a little girl crouching in the hold of a ship
on the Middle Passage, and an ill-treated girl serving an evil man’s food. In
her human form, these voices, the voices of all of those enslaved, end up being
an unimaginable strain on Beloved. This is why she relies so heavily on Sethe
and Denver to take care of her while she learns to cope with this newfound
responsibility. Therefore, Beloved is a representation of Jesus Christ to
undertake the burden of slavery as a whole.

Denver was given the role of the Holy
Spirit in the biblical trinity with subtle allusions and metaphors to the Bible.

The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son equally, and the double possession
is required for the Trinity to function correctly. Denver consumed “her
mother’s milk right along with the blood of her sister” (152), showing that
both Sethe and Beloved are literally a part of Denver. Again, Denver consuming
the blood of Beloved is a metaphor of communion in the Bible. When the
“crawling already” baby dies, her ghost remains in the house of 124 to
constantly be in Sethe and Denver’s life. Paul D exorcised the ghost out of the
house and it left “Denver’s world flat” (45) which indicates that Denver’s
spiritual growth upward is completely taken away and is left only with her
experiences on earth. Even though Denver entirely relies on Sethe and Beloved,
she is also essential for both of them to be complete. Denver solidifies
Beloved’s existence as she is the link between Sethe and the ghost. Therefore,
Denver was given the role of the Holy Spirit in Morrison’s novel.

Undertaking the Holy Spirit, Denver is
also the cascading symbol of slavery throughout Beloved. Denver’s character is bound to bear witness to the physical
reality of Sethe and Beloved without experiencing the trauma herself. Denver
was powerless and relied entirely on both Sethe and Beloved without the strength
to even leave her own house. She only knows the sentiments given by her mother
and sister and is paralyzed to stay where she is. Denver was terrified from the
effects of slavery that has left its mark on her own family members;
consequently, she is confined mentally rather than physically in the free
world. Denver’s character becomes a symbol for the avoidance of the past and
the haunting that has to do with slavery while staying paralyzed with fear. Being
seen as the Holy Spirit, Denver plays an active role in the portrayal of
slavery within Beloved.

Sethe, Beloved, and Denver played crucial
roles by symbolically identifying as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
in the Holy Trinity, also known as God. Using biblical allusions and metaphors,
Morrison utilizes her emphasis on Christianity in her novel to signify the
detrimental effects of slavery in the past, present, and future. The three consciousness’s
(the lingering reality of slavery, the burden of slavery as a whole, and the
fearful avoidance of this subject) all come together as one to create the
African American community. Even though this wound of slavery is large and
still in the peripherals of Americans today, coming together as a community
will be able to heal this lingering pain. 

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