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What are some examples of feminism in Beloved?

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daydanielle133 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 22, 2011 at 11:59 PM via web

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What are some examples of feminism in Beloved?

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litlady33 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted November 23, 2011 at 12:28 AM (Answer #1)

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The prime and most important example of feminism in Beloved by Toni Morrison is the choice that Sethe, the protagonist, makes early in her life, years before the book's opening. She lived as a slave at Sweet Home, a plantation, and decides to escape. Sethe had sent her three children, two boys and a girl, ahead to Cincinatti to be taken care of by her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs. Eventually, Sethe escapes and makes it to Cincinatti. Soon after, some of the people from the plantation arrive in Cincinatti to take Sethe and her children back to the plantation. Instead of allowing that to happen, Sethe attempts to murder all of her children. She only succeeds in killing her daughter, who is later named "Beloved."

To some, this act of murder is an act of compassion. In Sethe's eyes, she was keeping her daughter from the miserable life of slavery that she had to endure growing up. This is an example of feminism because Sethe made a choice about whether to let her child live, and she chose not to. Many feminists believe that the woman should have the choice about what to do for the best of her and her children.

Another example of feminism is the fact that the women in the novel are the central characters. Sethe is an independent woman who is able to choose which men she wants to be with. She takes Paul D as her lover but does not marry him; a very feminist idea. Denver, Sethe's living daughter, is another central character who is fighting her own battles. The fact that these women, along with their issues and struggles, take center stage in this novel make it a very feminist one indeed.

To some, feminism suggests an anti-male mentality. This novel, however, is not anti-male. The men and women in the novel work together to deal with their struggles and Morrison does not suggest that men are evil or to be mistrusted. Rather, it is the inhumanity of slavery and the horrors that were endured that are the true evil.

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