Student Question

What forms of hope and redemption are offered at the end of Beloved?

Quick answer:

In the end of Beloved Morrison suggests there is hope for Sethe to live a brighter future and forgive herself for the actions of her past. This idea is particularly communicated through Paul D’s line, when he tells Sethe that she is her own “best thing.” Sethe previously felt her “best thing” was her children because they didn’t endure her past hardships. However, here Morrison implies there is hope for Sethe to move past the emotional impact of hardships.

Expert Answers

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At the conclusion of the novel, Morrison suggests that there is hope to move on from the struggles of the past. For example, one of the Sethe’s biggest struggles throughout the book is her ability to find forgiveness for herself for the murder of her child. Her regret and overwhelming emotions about this action inhibit her ability to live in the present. They also negatively impact her sense of self worth.

Consider how Morrison writes earlier that

the best thing she was, was her children. Whites might dirty her, but not her best thing, her beautiful, magical best thing — the part of her that was clean. (Morrison 296)

Here we see that Sethe has hope for the future of her children, but not herself. She sees herself as dirtied by the struggles of her past. From her history of struggle and trauma, she thinks that the only part of her that could possibly live on untainted by her trauma is her children.

However, in the final scene Paul D says to Sethe,

me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow. (302)

Here Morrison suggests that Paul D is invested in creating a future with Sethe and that there is hope for them to move on from the trauma they have endured. Paul D then continues saying, “You your best thing, Sethe. You are” (302).

By having Paul D say this to Sethe, Morrison shows that there is potential for Sethe to forgive herself. This suggests that not only is there hope for her children’s future, but there is hope for her own future as well. However, it should be noted that Morrison only offers this idea as a glimmer of hope, not as a certain escape from her struggles. After all, Sethe’s response to Paul D's statement is a question—“Me?”—as if she does not yet fully believe it. It is unclear if and when she will believe that she can move on.

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