Interpretive Possibilities in Beloved

Discuss the elements which keep interpretative possibilities open in Beloved. How far are these resolved or not by the end of the narrative?

'...definitions belong to the definers not the defined.'(Beloved, p.190)

When Sixo provides an explanation for shooting shoat on Mr Garner's property, this is schoolteacher's immediate and uncompromising reaction to the slave's attempt at self-justification. In the eyes of the white man, the slaves ('the defined') are not entitled to the privilege of giving, or even creating, their own perspective on events. The phrasing of his opinion also suggests that there can only ever be one completely true version of everything: each event can ultimately be 'defined' in one indisputable and finite account (his). This in itself is only one perspective, however, a fact that Morrison's complicated narrative technique suggests subtly and yet unequivocally. Rebecca Ferguson observes that 'while the language of the dominant culture and the written word itself have all too often been potent instruments in the oppression [of black people], not to have mastery of them is to be rendered impotent in ways that matter greatly'. Morrison is very aware of this paradox...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 2313 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 10989 literature essays, 2751 sample college application essays, 911 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in