Meaning of Memory: based on Beloved

The definition of memory is the store of things learned and retained from an organism’s activity or experience as evidenced by modification of structure or behavior or by recall and recognition . Through out reading Beloved by Toni Morrison, memory has a meaning of negativity and sense of remorse. The beginning on the story starts off with the recap of Sethe’s family history. For example, Baby Sugg’s death and Beloved’s death. In page 4 of the book, the narrator describes her life as “intorable [..] since she knew death was anything for forgetfulness […].” Sethe and her daughter, Denver, kept bringing up the fact that they felt a haunting presence in the house that they were living in. When Paul D came back for a visit, after 18 years, they tell him about the haunted vibes, and say, “It’s not evil, just sad. Come on. Just step through.” While reading that, I had a feeling that they had a deep pain in them that they can’t let go of. They feel a presence but they aren’t afraid, but they also aren’t ready to approach it because it would open up memories of things that they aren’t ready to cope with. Just like Paul D began to tell Sethe about Mister. He explains to her that he felt like he was less than an animal: simply not human. Paul D told Sethe that, “Mister was allowed to be and stay what he was. But [he] wasn’t allowed to be and stay what [he] was.” He doesn’t want to relive the past.  Another example is when Beloved comes back into the house later on in the book, Denver is the only one who seems to notice who it is during their talk and it’s a dark conversation, and the only light memory comes afterwards when she asks Denver about the story of her birth. I personally think that the fact that they had such a rough past and the negativity and rejection colored people had gotten affected them from thinking positive over negative. Memory, based on this book, is defined by your past and how you were effected by it.

2 thoughts on “Meaning of Memory: based on Beloved

  1. I happen to agree with you that memory plats a pivotal role in the development of the novel Beloved. Without memory this story would be rather one note without the depth that grabs our attention as a reader. You mentioned several points where memory sets the mood and general feeling of the passage. The one that seems the most important to me is the story of Denver’s birth. This section of memory helps to lighten the mood after a perticularly deep conversation between Beloved and Denver. Memory in any story helps to set the stage basically letting us know what we are reafing about and in the case of this novel memory is dark and foreboding in its attempt to shed light on this story.

  2. memory is the process by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved. therefore, i think the way memory is explained in this passage is well developed. the memory of beloved’s death has tortured the family in so many ways. one example that justify it is the fact the house is haunted by the baby, which is very disturbing and tormented the family a lot because they weren’t able to go past it since the ghost of the baby kept appearing. moreover, the memory of beloved did not just bring sadness but divided them at some point.therefore, i think memory in this passage let us understanding the struggle this family is going through which is greatly explained in this passage.

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