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Imagery regarding the eyes and vision are prevalent throughout the novel. How does this...

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susanpmi | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 19, 2008 at 10:47 PM via web

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Imagery regarding the eyes and vision are prevalent throughout the novel. How does this tie into major themes of Beloved?

Sethe, for instance, has had the "glittering iron" punched out of her eyes, "leaving two open wells that did not reflect firelight." When schoolteacher catches up to Sethe, her eyes are so black she "looks blind," and after too much conflict with Beloved her eyes turn "bright but dead, alert but vacant." Similarly, the disturbing thing about Beloved's eyes is not that the "whites of them were much too white" but that "deep down in those big black eyes there was no expression at all." When Paul D. recalls his time on the chain gang in Georgia, he remembers that "the eyes had to tell what there was to tell" about what the men were feeling.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted May 14, 2008 at 3:18 AM (Answer #1)

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One of the themes of Beloved is memory and reminiscence (eNotes); many characters struggle with memories of the past, so they are looking back through different eyes (because, in many ways, they are different people than they were then); Sethe chooses to "dis-remember" at the end of the novel in order to move on.  Also, the emphasis on eyes lends itself to how different people see events and people in their lives differently. Finally, eyes are said to be windows to the soul, so discussing how the characters eyes react to certain events, people, etc., are telling to how these characters feel.

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