History Through Art & Words at BHS (My Experience)

During our class visits to the Brooklyn Historical Society I found myself getting more and more enthralled with the amazing atmosphere that the building. When I walked into the building I felt like I had walked through a wormhole and was back in time in the library of a large manor home, expecting a lord of some sort to come in and ask me to leave. On our first day we met Robin Katz who stood out from everyone else in the way she spoke and her apparent display of knowledge. During our three visits we looked at articles pictures and advertisements that ranged in age from over five decades to almost two hundred years old. These primary sources were well preserved and displayed a great deal of information. It was like looking through a window through the fabric of time and seeing things from the point of view of people who lived before my time. One of the first things I saw at the BHS was a map of subway stations in Brooklyn that was over fifty years old. I was surprised to know that a lot of stations are still there today and some are even still in use. During our second and third visits we looked at different articles and advertisements pertaining to slaves. These were tough subjects to view and a lot of the things we looked at made me really angry. However I am glad that I got the chance to see these materials. In doing so I was able to learn and grow as a person and feel really good about the time we live in. I wouldn’t trade my experience there for anything. I also hope that I get the chance to go back and do some self-study research so that I can appreciate the entirety of what the BHS has to offer.

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.

Blogging for Wednesday, 4/10, and more!

Everyone knows that we will not be visiting the Brooklyn Historical Society on 4/10 as was initially planned–instead, we’ll be going on 4/15 and 4/22.

For Wednesday’s class, please read the next four sections. In my copy, that ends on page 124. It ends with “She is smiling again.” The next section that we’ll begin with for the next set of readings begins “The last of the Sweet Home men”–we’ll read from there through the end of Part One for Monday’s class, plus some additional reading I’ll provide.

For those of you blogging by Tuesday at 5:00 so the rest of us can comment by 10:00am Wednesday, you have a few choices. You can blog about a topic of your own choosing, or you can blog about memory–but only if the passage you’re writing about is from our most recent section of reading–or you can use this new topic. We spent so much time thinking about narrators in the first half of our course, but we haven’t spent much time thinking about our narrator in Beloved. Write about the narrator in your blog post by considering a moment in the text when it isn’t clear who the narrator is, or who the focalizer is–remember we discussed what a focalizer is in the beginning of the semester–or when that narrator or focalizer shifts unexpectedly or in an unclear way. Incorporate a passage that exemplifies the issue you’re writing about.

As usual, make sure your post is 300 words and proofread. Comments should be 150 words and also proofread. Also, please post the comment you worked on in class today–that’s in addition to the comment you need to post in response to this next round of blogging!

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.

First blog posts on Beloved

Thank you to the six volunteers to get us started. For these posts, find a passage from Beloved that addresses memory. Use the text here to include the passage for your classmates. Then, in 300 words or so, write about what the passage says about memory, what it tells you about the character, and what you understand about Beloved from that passage. Make note of particular words or phrases that stand out to you or help you understand what the passage is saying about memory.

Commenters should write 100-150 words in response to one of the posts, offering additional observations about the passage, the words or phrases your classmate identified as particularly important, or the connection of that passage to the novel overall.

Be sure to keep up with the reading. We agreed that you should read through page 100 if you’re reading the red-covered edition and page 85 if you’re reading the copy that I had. If you’re reading the online text (remember, you need to have a copy with you in class!), the section ends with “Real pretty.” — the next section after that begins with “It was time to lay it all down.”

Happy reading and blogging!