“Home”as a Gateway to Life and not a Place of Turmoil in Beloved- By – Toni Morrison

In Beloved (1987), Toni Morrison brings forth a gruesome picture of predicament of the slaves in the Kentucky plantation through torture and subjugation of them by the whites then. However ‘home’ in the novel projects a picture of respite as well, in spite of all the chaos in the form of supernatural activity and unrest. The home represents ‘captivity’ (Sweet Home), ‘insanity’, ‘guilt and repentance’, ‘restlessness and separation’ but it also represents “Satisfaction” and “refuge”. It represents unease but also freedom. Through 124 Bluestone Road, Morrison presents to her readers a life that is secured amidst insecurity, peace and freedom amidst chaos and refuge in uncertainty and insanity. Home for Morrison is not Sweet Home at the Kentucky plantation, which is anything but ‘sweet’, but 124 Bluestone that is haunted by a child ghost that is far better and desirable than the undependable outside world for the free slaves. Sweet Home, the plantation was not a home. It was captivity for these slaves. Morrison provides the readers with a profound insight into the intricacies of the dynamics of existence that prevailed in the lives of these slaves even after slavery. And survival was the most important aspiration for the slaves. Dehumanization and brutality reduced these Africans to mere serving instruments. All through the African-American literature loud echoes of slavery and the compelled dehumanized identity can be traced. Morrison shows her readers how a slave’s home, after freedom, in spite of all its disturbance and insanity still provides shelter- as is the duty of a home, and lets the inmates live with acquired and accepted peace amidst the lunacy.

Sethe escapes Sweet Home when she is pregnant and achieves freedom from the oppressive plantation life and settles in 124 Bluestone with Baby Suggs, her mother-in-law and children. Though her two sons run away from the house, yet Denver, her daughter, stays with her till she finds a job in the community. The home – 124 serves as a place of transformation, a gateway to change for better and freedom. Sethe gets her freedom here with Dr. Paul D, gets her job and is happy; Baby Suggs is at home in 124 and finds the place desirable that is evident when she says, “Not a house in the country ain’t packed to its rafters with some dead Negro’s grief. We lucky this ghost is a baby….You lucky” (6), to Sethe when the latter suggests to move from the house. The boys run away and are anyway free from slavery. Denver lives for quite some time, is taken care of by her mother and then moves into the community from there to work. The house is a medium of upliftment for the inmates. They all rise from whatever they have been through as a family, as well as, as individuals.

Hence, ‘home’ in Beloved is not really hopelessness and turmoil or threat of any kind. It is rather a space that provides respite to the inmates in spite of not being the perfect romantic home. It performs a bigger job- it provides a gateway to a better life. Morrison demonstrated hope in hopelessness and courage and expectation in the post-slavery life of the slaves through the imagery of the home in Beloved. 

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