In Beloved, what does the narrator mean by the warning at the end: "this is not a story to pass on . . ."?

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bianchijoe eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The phrase has several different connotations, depending on how one interprets the word "pass." Morrison could be saying that this is not a story to "pass on"—that is, bequeath or hand down, passing from one person to the next—perhaps because of its potential to re-ignite the horrors of slavery. But it's also a story that one shouldn't "pass" on—that is, refuse—because its historical and emotional truths, however painful, deserve to be remembered and honored. Thirdly, it's not a story to "pass on"—that is, die—because, like Beloved herself, the legacy of slavery and its horrors will continue to haunt us as a nation and a culture. As David Lawrence states in Studies in American Fiction , "While the painful heritage of...

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