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The monster in the dark: the monstrous maternal and abject black mother in Toni Morrison's Beloved

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posted on 2021-05-22, 15:15 authored by Nikta Sadati

[Introduction]: "Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) is centred on Sethe, a mother and an escaped slave.Through a non-linear narrative, the novel follows Sethe through her traumatizing memories of Sweet Home–the plantation in which she was a slave–as well as I24, her new home after her escape. Set in 1856 pre-abolition America, Beloved follows the aftermath of Sethe’s murder of her baby, Beloved, and the haunting of I24 by Beloved’s ghost. Sethe’s infanticide is revealed to the reader through a series of memories and stories from different neighbours of I24 and acquaintances of Sethe. Sethe is presented as a monstrous mother as she appears to her family and neighbours as detached from her maternal love and kinship. Throughout this essay, the research questions I will answer are the following: Who defines motherhood? How is grief exercised by a subject who is made abject? How is the concept of the monstrous maternal rooted in racial oppression Sethe’s murder of her child is seen as a cold and irrational act of violence; however, Beloved’s representation of black motherhood and slavery serves to complicate the narrative of the monstrous maternal."





Master of Arts


Literatures of Modernity

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


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