Beloved: A Shared Experience between Characters and Readers 12th Grade

Sethe, Paul D, and other former slave characters of Toni Morrison’s Beloved display clear signs of post traumatic stress coming from their experience in slavery and the events that resulted. For the audiences of her novel, slavery is an inaccessible concept and therefore there it places distance between the characters who have experienced it and whose lives and personalities are forever changed by it, and the readers who at most may have family history impacted by it but could not understand what it is like to live it. It was important to Morrison that the readers feel closeness to the characters and their story, so she employed strategies of disorienting the reader to conjure up some similar feelings. She wrote, “I wanted the reader to be kidnapped, thrown ruthlessly into an alien environment as the first step into a shared experience with the book’s population--just as the characters were snatched from one place to another, from any place to any other, without preparation or defense.” Morrison disorients the reader by withholding information, and shifting narrators and timelines. With these tactics, she brings her readers closer to her characters who feel disoriented as a result of their trauma.

A feeling of disorientation is...

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