"A Hot Thing" as a Catachresis in Beloved 11th Grade

In Beloved, characters experience egregious violations of their human rights that create situations that the English language cannot truly capture. The author, Toni Morrison attempts to communicate the meaning of some indescribable emotions and actions with catachresis, a literary device where a writer uses the closest possible phrase to describe something that has no accurate definition in the English language(Danner, 32-34). Morrison explains this in her foreword, saying “To render enslavement a personal experience, language must get out of the way.”(Morrison, XIX) One issue addressed throughout Beloved is the struggle of slaves to maintain their humanity through their human traits, such as their face or their teeth. Since this struggle has no definition that someone who has never been a slave could understand, Morrison uses catachresis to describe the different aspects of it. In her utilization of the phrase ”a hot thing”(Morrison, 248), which Morrison draws from Sethe’s understanding of characteristics, she describes the feeling that occurs after the loss of a human identity. This use of catachresis is used to communicate the emotion when a character feels as if either they or their loved ones...

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