Advantages and Their Limits: Exploring Mr. Bodwin in Beloved 12th Grade

Privilege alters perspective. In her text Beloved, Toni Morrison explores the role that white privilege plays on a character’s ability to fight for social justice. While Morrison’s character, Mr. Bodwin, demonstrates positive intentions in his attempt to assist the African American community, he fails to alter the preconceived perspective that his whiteness perpetuates. This failure calls the reader to question Mr. Bodwin’s intention, and contemplate whether the white man can speak for the opptessed without experiencing oppression himself. Morrison uses imagery to symbolize Mr. Bodwin’s limitations as a white advocate for African American people.

Mr. Bodwin’s appearance represents his inability to fully immerse himself in either the white or black community. While his dark moustache is ‘velvety’ and beautiful ‘his hair was white’(Morrison, 260) and the source of his nickname—the "bleached n*gger." While many can appreciate the beauty of the darkness that rests on his face, the obvious whiteness of Mr. Bodwins appearance muddles it to something ‘cartoonists... fastened onto...whenever they depicted local political antagonism’(Morrison, 260). This parallels the black community’s perspective of Mr. Bodwin—his whiteness cheapening...

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