Who Is Sethe's Motherhood In Beloved

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In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the protagonist Sethe struggles with her past experiences in a society driven by slavery and her relationship with her children. As Morrison discusses, arguably the most devastating consequence of slavery is its effect on motherhood. As the novel progresses, Sethe is forced to confront the evil of her past, but motherhood itself is able to rescue her from a life of never ending guilt. Sethe is able to take refuge in her love for her children. “The Negro Mother” by Langston Hughes, similar to Beloved, encourages communication of a painful past, as it provides a positive outlook on life after slavery, and the hope that the future can hold. The poem discusses a black mother’s message to her children to transform…show more content…
Slavery proved to be devastating enough for Sethe’s mother, as she chose to run away, leaving the only child she loved behind. Nan tells Sethe that “she threw them all away but you. […] Without names, she threw them. You she gave the name of the black man. She put her arms around him. The others she did not put her arms around” (Morrison 74). It is clear that Sethe was loved by her mother, but the circumstances of slavery still resulted in her being left…show more content…
Told from a black mother’s point of view, Langston Hughes communicates the importance of overcoming the tragedies of slavery in order for society to progress. Much like Sethe’s mother was pregnant on the ship, the black mother in the poem says, “I am the dark girl who crossed the red sea/ Carrying in my body the seed of the free” (Hughes 7-8). Unlike Beloved though, there is a sense of hope for the future of her children communicated as Hughes uses the words “seed of the free” to describe the children that the woman is pregnant with. It is clear though that the establishment of motherhood was ruined for her as well. “Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave -- / Children sold away from me, I’m husband sold, too. / No safety, no love, no respect I was due.” (12-14). She and her children were also treated like livestock the way that Sethe and her children were. However, since the poem is reflective, there is a sense of peace that has come with time. The poem acts as a call to action for her black children to carry out what could not be done in her time. She tells her children to “Look ever upward at the sun and the stars. / Oh my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers / Impel you forever up the great stairs – “(44-47). The poem is a continuation of what could happen for Sethe’s children, as she fought for them and loved them in the only

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