Beloved, as a trickster, is playing with Sethe by stirring up the past rather than continuing to repress it.
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The novel describes Sethe as “running into the faces of the people out there, joining them and leaving Beloved behind” (Morrison 1987: 309). As part of the black culture, black women represent the pillars of strength within that community as protectors and healers.
In addition to songs as a linguistic device, Morrison constantly returns to the word, “rememory” and “disremember” rather than using words, such as “remember” or “forget.” Morrison uses rememory to show how Sethe constantly keeps the past in her present existence because she cannot forget what happened and lives with the ghost of her guilty conscience and moral dilemma for murdering her daughter and living through slavery. They are the glue that holds everything together when the world is falling apart around them.
Published in 1987, Beloved is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that recounts how those who survived slavery healed themselves and reflects on the period of slavery in “a manner in which it can be digested, in a manner in which the memory is not destructive” (Morey 1988: 2).
It is this rememory as Morrison calls it that helps those considered “others” become individuals.
In revisiting Morrison’s overall theme of turning traumatic memories into a positive force, the songs are a cathartic process used to take this memory, which is “vital for revisioning communal and social transformation that is healing” (Baker-Fletch 1993: 4). The other characters in the novel attempt to help Sethe loosen the binds of the past.
It is the singing of the women that help exorcise the ghost of Beloved and enable Sethe to break free as if she has been baptized (Morrison 1987: 308). One of the women in town wants to help Sethe exorcise the ghost of Beloved because she “didn’t like the idea of past errors taking possession of the present” because “the past was something to leave behind” (Morrison 1987: 302).
Culture is a means of how a group collectively believe, act, and interact on a daily basis.
Those who have studied her work refer to Morrison’s narrative tales as “literature…that addresses the sacred and as an allegorical representation of black experience” (Baker-Fletcher 1993: 2).