KEVIN PESNELL
OUTLINE
Thesis: The cruelties of slavery were not over after emancipation, and in Beloved, to my
particular liking, the deep psychological suffrage of former slaves is told through
flashbacks to past tragedies, memories, and nightmares.
Introduction: Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) was her fifth novel, and consequently the most
controversial work she had ever written. Morrison was working as a senior editor
at the publishing firm Random House when she was editing a nineteenth century
article which was in a historical book and found the basis of this story. A direct
connection between Morrison and this novel is best demonstrated by Morrison’s
statement of " I deal with five years of terror in a pathological society, living in a
bedlam where nothing makes sense". This novel is set during the mid-nineteenth
century and reveals the pain and suffrage of being a slave before and after
emancipation through deeply symbolic delineation’s of continued emotional and
psychological suffrage.
I. Stanley Crouch
A) " For Beloved, above all else, is a black face holocaust novel" (pp. 38-43).
B) "That Morrison chose to set the Afro-American experience in the framework of collective
tragedy is fine…she lacks a true sense of the tragic" (pp. 38-43).
C) Morrison has an ability to organize her novel in a musical structure, using images as motifs.
D) Morrison wants her reader’s not to experience the horrors of slavery, but rather realize the
sins that were committed against them, and simply feel sorry for them.
II. Ann Snitow
A) "…she harps so of the presence of Beloved, sometimes neglecting the mental life of her
other characters" (pp. 25-6).
B) " If Beloved fails in it’s ambitions, it is still a novel by Toni Morrison…full of beautiful
prose, dialogue as rhythmically satisfying as music…and scenes so clearly etched they’re
like hallucinations" (pp. 25-6).
C) Morrison sets herself apart from other writers by rejecting irony.
D) The novel revolves and searches for, but never gets any closer to the people that are
numbed with overwhelming grief.
III. Rosellen Brown
A) "The rhythm of black speech in Morrison’s control is complex and versatile, and with it she
makes third person narrative sound as intimate as a back porch conversation, and
confidences in the first person sound like a dream" (pp. 418-21).
B) "Beloved brings us into the mind of the haunter as well as the haunted" (pp. 420-21).
C) Morrison manages to bring about images and specific memories like stones, and these I
images and memories disappear and resurface over and over.
D) The audacity and the energy in this novel lies within the pain and ambivalence of it’s
characters toward their memories, and even more so, their forgetting.
IV. Kevin Pesnell
A) Beloved as a family saga.
B) Suffrage of slaves and the viewpoints of many.
C) Haunting memories of a murdered child.
D) Overall writing ability, summation.


Kevin Pesnell
English 102, Section 15
Professor K.
March 18, 1996
The Psychological Suffrage of Former Slaves
Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) was her fifth novel, and consequently the most controversial work she had ever written. Morrison was working as a senior editor at the publishing firm Random House when she was editing a nineteenth century article which was in a historical book and found the basis for this story. A direct connection between Morrison and this novel is best demonstrated by Morrison’s statement of " I deal with five years of terror in a pathological society, living in a bedlam where nothing makes sense". This novel is set during the mid-nineteenth century and reveals the pain and suffrage of being a slave before and after emancipation through deeply symbolic delineations of continued emotional and psychological suffrage.
Stanley Crouch stated " For Beloved, above all else, is a blackface holocaust novel" (38-43). He believed that by including sadistic guards, murder, separation of family members, a big war, failed and successful escapes, and losses of loved ones to the violence of the mad order, Morrison was attempting to enter American slavery into the martyr ranks of the Nazi’s abuse of the Jews (Crouch 38-43). Also, Crouch stated, " …she lacks a true sense of the tragic" (38-43). He supported this by stating " …it shows no sense of the timeless and unpredictable manifestations of evil that preceded and followed American slavery" (Crouch 38-43).
However,