Home is Where the Haunt is: History, Haunting, and the Contemporary African-American Community in Toni Morrison's Beloved




Hager, Brett

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Toni Morrison’s Beloved, hailed as one of the most important books of the twentieth century, challenges the contemporary reader to come to terms with the reality of slavery through the lens of a neo-slave narrative. Set around Cincinnati, Ohio, Beloved tells the story of ex-slave Sethe, who lives at the house 124 with her young daughter Denver. When a mysterious young woman named Beloved arrives to the house, Sethe is forced to confront not only her own troubled past as a former slave, but also the dark history of the people forcibly brought to the American landscape to work. This thesis analyzes the role of the literal and figurative ghosts accompanied by that history in the personal life of the protagonist as well as the public life of the African-American community around her. Through situating her text in the time of slavery, Morrison looks backward while addressing her present-day audiences, transcending temporal boundaries and propelling her work into the twentieth century. By making relevant to present-day readers the harsh reality of slavery, the author memorializes those whose lives were lost to enslavement and culturally unites those left behind.



English Literature