Sethe’s experiences give us a hint as to why she ended up taking her daugher’s life

No one can conclude if what Sethe did to her baby was the right thing to do or not. However, we can see how Sethe reaches her decision to kill her baby rather than have herself and her children deal with the tragic life of slavery again through her reflections.

When Paul D visited Sethe and the two talked in the kitchen, Sethe told Paul D about the time a “school teacher” and his nephews raped her. She explains to Paul D how they took her milk and beat her with cowhide while she was pregnant and made a “tree” on her back.

In the chapter starting on pg. 28 and also the chapter starting on pg. 74, The recollection of Sethe’s escape and details of her delivery was described through Denver’s mind. Sethe runs away wandering around through the woods while being six months pregnant with “her feet which were so swollen she could not see her arch or feel her ankles.” The delivery of Denver was very hard and the The pain and fear that Sethe faced must have been beyond imagination.

After overcoming these horrible experiences of slavery, she finally started her new life with Baby Suggs and her children. After her escape and overcoming all of the previous experiences she went through, Sethe was very pleased to be able to raise her children on her own.

In my opinion after reading all of Sethe’s recollections and experiences of her slave life and attempted escape, it is kind of understandable to me why she would kill her baby. After experiencing a little amount of freedom and then being caught again and forced back into slavery, she doesn:t want her children going through the same experiences she went through and to be treated like merchandise. At the same time she doesn’t particularly want to kill her own child but in the end that is the decision she chooses.

2 thoughts on “Sethe’s experiences give us a hint as to why she ended up taking her daugher’s life

  1. There is no amount of pain or reason to take one’s life. It was very wrong for Sethe to kill her baby. Notwithstanding that I understand why a mother would do such a thing especially going through these kinds of torture. In the narrative there is no mention of Sethe’s mental stability but I think the torture made a little bit “crazy” at some point, especially after the rape. Since it is generally believed most rape victims are mentally affected. What made it worse in her case was Halle not coming to her rescue at this crucial time. I believe this mental “instability” pushed her to do what she did. If not what is the “real” rationale behind cutting the throat of an innocent baby. I believe her action totally goes beyond what is seen or mentioned in the open. In my humble opinion there is more to what she did rather than to protect the baby.

  2. I agreed with Emmanuel. No one has the right to take away another one’s life. We can see that Sethe wants the best for her baby girl and doesnt want her to live as a slave, however that doesnt mean she can take away her life like that. I feel its very cruel to kill her own baby without giving her chance to choose the life she wants to live. If Sethe wants to change her baby girl’s life, she can run away with her just like she did with Denver. Or there might be another reason why she killed her baby girl, will that because of her mental instability from what she been went through. As what Emmanuel said, most rape victims are mental affected, and i believed Sethe is one of them which leads her killed her own baby.

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