The two unforgettable characters in the book are Sethe, a runaway slave and the ghost of her dead baby daughter. The baby's real name is never revealed. Sethe just refers to her by the only word she could afford to have carved on her graveyard headstone: "Beloved."
Toni Morrison's gift is not in the physical description of Sethe. She really doesn't dwell on character descriptions at any length except to describe physical signs of torture and abuse. Sethe is unforgettable because of her life's harsh journey. She endures and loses so much through the story. Her back never breaks but as the tale progresses, it is obvious her mental state is deteriorating. So much so, that her surviving daughter, Denver, must constantly intervene between the outside world and her mother's increasing isolation and despair.
The tale that unfolds about the ghost of the dead baby is riveting. And she is no gentle, happy, innocent spirit. Rather, she is full of wrath. She harbors uncontrollable rage and resentment towards her mother and living sister. And anyone else who gets in her way. Again, Beloved is not unforgettable because of her physical characteristics. She is unforgettable because of her unfortunate, otherworldly circumstances. Also, because of the malevolence she casts out of revenge on Sethe and those close to her. The fact that she is a ghost but still a central character in the book makes for fascinating reading!
The death of a child is a tragic loss that no parent can endure without emotional scars. But Beloved offers a twist to that theme that is beyond the normal tragic circumstance. I will not give a spoiler alert here. You will have to read Beloved for yourself to find out what I am referring to! I guarantee you will never forget the tragic story of Sethe and her baby daughter's ghost.
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