Beloved as a fiction, as a neo-slave narrative, has a purpose of writing by a black writer in a white society, explain.
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Check out the links provided below; they are quite detailed.
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I'm not sure how in-depth you need to get with this subject, but in case you need it for a paper or something, I'm going to list a few helpful links.
If you want to know more about the whole subject, you could head over to the essay "A Historical Margaret Garner," at http://www.motopera.org/mg_ed/educationa… The English prof who wrote the article goes into some detail about Garner's life, and notes how Toni Morrison read about her and came to write BELOVED based loosely on Garner.
Apparently the story was big in the newspapers around 1860, but then mostly forgotten until Toni Morrison wrote beloved in 1987.
You can also go to http://wiredforbooks.org/tonimorrison/ to listen to an interview wherein Morrison talks about how and why she developed the whole concept/story of BELOVED. I found it pretty interesting. Great discussion of how slavery doesn't allow a woman to be a "mother," per se, and how the mother in BELOVED makes a "right" choice that she at the same time has no "right" to make -- to kill her child. Wow.
Morrison also talks about her motivation in writing BELOVED in this article -- http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/a…