Variations of Prose Style in Toni Morrison's 'Beloved'

That Toni Morrison's 'Beloved' is stylistically diverse cannot be doubted: Morrison's novel appears straightforward at first glance, opening with blank verse in a standard prose narration, but over the course of the story the style varies to contain differing levels of imagery and metaphor, as well as changes in tense, changes in register, free indirect discourse, stream-of-consciousness narration, shifting levels of language in terms of description and dialogue, and a combination of personification and repetition to solidify the characterization of an inanimate object.

When the novel opens, before Paul D makes his entrance, we are introduced to five characters: Sethe, her living daughter Denver, the ghost of her deceased daughter Beloved, her deceased mother-in-law Baby Suggs, and the house they live in, 124. Morrison uses personification to give the house its own identity: "124 was spiteful. Full of a baby's venom," as if the house itself could feel spite. Morrison's use of repetition builds upon this personification of the house to strengthen the character of 124 as well as to provide a framework structure for the three parts of the novel as a whole. "124 was loud," we are told at...

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