With slavery behaving as a common theme in Beloved's unraveling plot and having a female as the main character, the idea of motherhood becomes natural. One of the cruel parts of slavery is how it effects the bonds of love, particularly those between mother and child. Sethe continually expresses the pain of separation from her mother. In class on Thursday we took a quiz and I responded to question number one that addressed if you think Sethe is justified in killing her baby. Was it motherly? This is an intense idea to toy with, because of all the extenuating factors of oppression, slavery and danger. Some one brought up a really interesting question at the very tail end of class, "What is more free, slavery or death? Is it the mother's right to make that choice?"
That really got me thinking about the boundaries of motherhood. Naturally, the boundaries are changed due to slavery, because it is an entirely different institution. After the events the happened with Sethe killing her child, there is a lot of repressed feelings, "she [Sethe] was frightened by the thought of having a baby once more. Needing to be good enough, alert enough, strong enough, that caring - again. Having to stay alive just that much longer" (155). It is interesting to analyze Sethe's motive towards having children, after losing one. I could interpret her intentions as her being scared or her finding that being motherly with a child as a burden. I think it has to do with a little bit of both, but mostly because of her fear of losing another child.
I really wonder what Morrison meant by "having to stay alive just that much longer" Is she referring to Sethe staying alive or the child? I think it means that Sethe wants to die or is anticipating death. She does make reference to living is a reason to be a mother. Maybe, because Sethe's child is dead because of what she did to her..in her mind she has reversed the roles of life and death. That death is where she will be joined with her daughter and her life is where she will struggle. Sethe switches off between different mentalities when it comes to coping with the death of her child.
I took the side of not looking down on Sethe for killing her child. She chose to have her child not take the chance in growing up in slavery, but to hopefully die in peace. What is more worse, death or slavery? The child does not get the chance to answer that question, the mother chose. I think her intentions were in the right order, because she only wanted to provide the best that she could. I think she intended on dying too, but needed to take care of Denver after all was said and done.
It is a very stick subject when it comes to a solid conclusion about the justifications of Sethe's actions, but Morrison succeeds in providing a twisting, compelling plot for her readers to disect.