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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Literature Analysis #3

By Toni Morrison

1. Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read according to the elements of plot you've learned in past courses (exposition, inciting incident, etc.).  Explain how the narrative fulfills the author's purpose (based on your well-informed interpretation of same).
       The main character Sethe is a slave.  The book goes into painful details about her experiences of being a slave and ultimately leads to her planning to escape.  Her first attempt at escaping goes horribly wrong; everyone in her group gets caught and some of them are harshly and graphically murdered.  Sethe is whipped and beaten as punishment because she is six months pregnant at the time.  After this occurrence she is determined to escape.  She sends her three children ahead of her to her mother-in-law who lives across the Ohio River.  She then literally just gets up and walks away from the plantation.  She was so pregnant and badly beaten that nobody on the plantation thought that she would be capable of moving.  A run away indentured servant named Amy Denver found her and helped her deliver her fourth child whom she named Denver.  Sethe then made it to her mother-in-law's and got to see that her children were safe.  Eighteen days later Sethe's owner who is called Schoolteacher comes for her and her children.  They run into a shed and she plans to kill all of her children and then herself so they wouldn't have to go back into slavery.  She only kills her oldest daughter Beloved before she is stopped.  This action demoralizes everyone's opinion of her.  
       Then the story shifts to a male slave named Paul D. who lives on the same plantation.  He is sold and his graphic story is told.  He eventually frees himself and eventually finds himself back with Sethe years later.  Sethe and her children are haunted by Beloved's ghost and Paul gets rid of her.  Sethe asks Paul to stay with them.
       Beloved returns in the flesh as a stranger at Sethe's and Paul's door, but only Denver knows that it is Beloved's ghost.  Denver protects Beloved from Sethe because she fears that she will kill her again and thoroughly enjoys Beloved's company, but Beloved only cares about Sethe.  Sethe and Paul are finally getting close and see a future together so Beloved tries to break them apart by seducing Paul.  Paul is conflicted, but cant tell Sethe what happened.  
       Paul eventually finds out that Sethe killed her daughter and leaves her.  Sethe accepts that fact that the stranger is Beloved returned to her and is at first delighted to have her daughter back.  Beloved slowly eats away at Sethe and as she grows weaker, Beloved grows stronger.  Denver realizes what is happening and goes out on her own for the first time for help.  She convinces the women in the community to help her family and they bring food everyday.  She then builds up the courage to ask for job.  She tells the person who hires her the story about the ghost and the whole town comes together to rescue Sethe and drive Beloved away.  Denver runs into Paul in town and tells him that Sethe is dying. He tells her that she is her own best thing.
     The purpose of the book is show that your past in not inescapable.  By suppressing things that haunt you, it is difficult to move on and embrace the future.

2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. Avoid cliches.
       The theme of the novel is to face your past so you can move on into your future.  Sethe continually suppresses her past and never faces it so it haunts her.  

3. Describe the author's tone. Include a minimum of three excerpts that illustrate your point(s).
       The tone varied for each character, but for the narrator Sethe, the tone was characterized by regret and depressed mournfulness.
“Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it's not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it's gone, but the place--the picture of it--stays, and not just in my remory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don't think if, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.” 
“Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.” 
“It never looked as terrible as it was and it made her wonder if hell was a pretty place too. Fire and brimstone all right, but hidden in lacy groves.” 

4. Describe a minimum of ten literary elements/techniques you observed that strengthened your understanding of the author's purpose, the text's theme and/or your sense of the tone. For each, please include textual support to help illustrate the point for your readers. (Please include edition and page numbers for easy reference.) 
 1. Allusion: Paul D saying "Red heart. Red heart. Red heart" (page117) is like the phrase"Red rum red rum" from The Shining.
 2. Musical Reference: "Lay em down, Sethe. Sword and shield. Down. Down. Both of em down. Down by the riverside. Sword and shield. Don't study war no more. Lay all that mess down. Sword and shield." (page 86) This refers to the spiritual "Down by the Riverside."
 3. Symbolism: Sethe, Denver, and the "holy ghost" Beloved might symbolize the Holy Trinity.
 4. Dialect: "How come everybody run off from Sweet Home can't stop talking about it? Look like if it was so sweet you would have stayed." (page 13)
 5. Metaphor: "Women did what strawberry plans did before they shot out their thin vines: the quality of the green changed.  Then the vine threads came, then the buds.  By the time the white pedals died and the mint-colored berry poked out, the leaf shine was gilded tight and waxy.  That's how Beloved looked- gilded and shining." ( page 64)
 6. Flashback: "slavery, though repealed, is still with us." (page 6)
 7. Irony: It's ironic that Sethe's like finally starts to come into place as she is dying.  She has acceptance from her community, Beloved no longer haunts her, and Paul is there to take care of her.
 8. Imagery: "Down by the stream in back of 124 her footprints come and go, come and go.  They are so familiar. Should s child, an adult place his feet in them, they will fit.  Take them out and they disappear again as though nobody ever walked there." (page 275)
 9. Repetition: The very last chapter repeats, "It was not a story to pass on'" as the story came to an end. (pages 274-275)
 10.  Biblical reference: When Stamp Paid feeds baby Denver some blackberries (page136), it's like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:3-3:7).

1. Describe two examples of direct characterization and two examples of indirect characterization.  Why does the author use both approaches, and to what end (i.e., what is your lasting impression of the character as a result)?

-Direct characterization: The grandmother Baby Suggs; "Her past had been like her present-intolerable-and since she knew death was anything but forgetfulness. she used the little energy left for her pondering color." " Suspended between the nastiness of life and the meanness of the dead, she couldn't get interested in leaving life or living it." The introduction of Baby Suggs sort of set the whole tone for the book.  Her hopeless death paved the way for a very mournaful and depressing story.
Indirect Characterization:  Sethe; she is telling the story so we learn about her through her actions.  "Afterward-not before-he considered Sethe's feelings in the matter." "Even if Sethe could deal with the return of the spirit, Stamp didn't believe her daughter could."

2. Does the author's syntax and/or diction change when s/he focuses on character?  How?  Example(s)?
- I didn't notice any difference in the word choice or sentence structure from character to character.  Although, there was a change in tone; for example the plantation owner had a different tone than Beloved who had a different tone from Sethe.

3. Is the protagonist static or dynamic?  Flat or round?  Explain.
 -Sethe is a dynamic character. She experiences many external changes throughout the book and at the very end experiences an internal change.  She is also definitely a round character.  She has multiple dimensions as she deals with internal and external struggles.

4. After reading the book did you come away feeling like you'd met a person or read a character?  Analyze one textual example that illustrates your reaction. 
-After reading this book I felt like I read a character.  I think that the biggest reason for this is that I couldn't relate to any of the characters so the story felt like an actually story rather than an encounter with people.

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