Themes of Color and Light within Toni Morrison’s Beloved 12th Grade

Much of what happened to black slaves during the middle and late 19th century has been swept under the carpet, and Toni Morrison was fully aware of this. Her book, Beloved, seeks to bring many of those horrors to light so that a modern day reader might be able to feel empathy towards a “freed” slave living in postwar America, c. 1860s. By using light and color as metaphors for the emotional trauma and isolation of Beloved’s characters, Toni Morrison is able to effectively convey the horror and hardship that chased those who were called “free” but never felt that way, even after the war was over.

Orange and red are the first examples that appear in this novel as examples of trauma and emotion (elation, melancholy, etc) making themselves apparent, often working alongside certain characters- beginning with Baby Suggs and Paul D, respectively (so one may start to grasp some of what plagued people of color during this era). When Paul D first entered 124, he was bathed in red, as if anger was seeping out of the house itself due to his presence: “... followed her through the door straight into a pool of red and undulating light that locked him where he stood” (4). Paul D’s relationship with the color red will continue throughout the...

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