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Baby Suggs, Holy
"Then she shouted, "Let the children come!" "Let your mothers hear you laugh." "Let the grown men come." "Let your wives and children see you dance." "Cry. … For the living and the dead. Just cry." And without covering their eyes the women let loose." (Morrison 13). Baby Suggs, holy spoke these words and gave her heart because slavery had ruined everything else she had to give. Her words reflected the truths of slavery and helped overcome its lasting pain through love. Her words were important because they called on her people to use their freedom. Her words regained what slavery had stolen.
When Baby Suggs called for the children to laugh, she not only made their parents smile, but granted a novelty that slavery did not have to offer. Slave children did not laugh and their mothers never got the chance to hear them if they did. Her calling also lent reassurance to the mothers that their children were safe and happy. Because Baby Suggs had them laugh, she let their mothers' experience something only free life had to offer. When the grown men danced, "the groundlife shuddered under their feet."
(Morrison 87). By dancing the men gained control of their bodies. They were able to express what their hearts felt. The men became carefree. And when the women cried, they cried because of sorrow for the dead, happiness for the living, and as a form of release. Release from oppression let them truly feel the love they held for their children, their husbands, and for themselves.
Baby Suggs told her people to love themselves, to love every part. Through her words Baby Suggs overcame the hatred of the self that slavery created by telling her people to love the very parts of themselves that slavery has taken away. Baby Suggs spoke of flesh, hands, mouths, and inside parts. All of which were exploited by slavery; the flesh that they "flay", the hands that they, "use, tie, bind, chop off, and leave empty", the mouth, "they see it broken and break it again", and the "inside parts that they'd just as soon slop for hogs." (Morrison 88). The only thing left true and pure was the heart.
"Hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize." (Morrison 89). By saying that your heart is the prize, Baby Suggs is referring to freedom. As Baby Suggs came to Ohio, "she felt a knocking in her chest and discovered something else new: her own heartbeat." (Morrison 141). Even though it was there all along, she never noticed it. Perhaps that was for the best. After all, the pain of losing seven of her eight children to slavery could have ruined her but having the capacity to love them would have killed her. Just as Baby Suggs never looked at her babies because," it wasn't worth the trouble to try to learn features you would never see change into adulthood anyway." (Morrison 139), Sethe "couldn't love 'em proper in Kentucky because they wasn't mine to love." (Morrison 162).
Baby Suggs never knew of a love so strong until she was allowed to keep her eighth baby, the one whom would buy her freedom with his. Sethe never knew that love until she arrived in Ohio, a love that she would test and allow to justify the unthinkable. The love that Baby Suggs, holy preached, allowed her people to come to terms with the atrocities committed against them and the atrocities they committed. The love that Baby Suggs professed was thick love, maybe too thick, but "thin love ain't love at all." (Morrison 164).
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Suggs, Virgin Radio, Slavery
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