Morrison’s "Beloved" Community

After the abolishment of slavery, the black community became the core of African American culture and life. This was due in part by segregation and other socioeconomic factors, but also to the spiritual and social unity of each black member. This was well exemplified in the story, as each former slave underwent arduous struggles to affix the broken pieces of their lives and attempt to become independent members of the community in a time which did not allow them to accomplish such a feat.

The black community played a major role in Beloved, especially with their interactions with Sethe. After Sethe\'s escape from slavery, she traveled to Cincinnati to reunite with her children and mother-in-law, Baby Suggs. She arrived at 124, a house constantly filled with people and happiness.

Where not one but two pots simmered on the stove; where the lamp burned all night long. Strangers rested while their children tried on their shoes. Messages were left there, for whoever needed them was sure to stop in one day soon. (Morrison, 87)

Sethe was enveloped with love and security, while Baby Suggs, the local spiritual leader, became the driving force in the community, gathering the people together to preach self love and respect. When warm weather came, Baby Suggs, holy, followed by every black man, woman and child who could make it through, took her great heart to the Clearing... (Morrison, 87)

Toni Morrison\'s Beloved is a book about a community made up of individuals running away from their pasts. In meeting a few of those individuals and learning how and what they are running from, it becomes obvious that no one can deal successfully with the burden of past memories alone. Those who attempt to face their troubles alone wind up tiring out and giving up, as is demonstrated by Baby Suggs. Sethe and Paul D however, try to fight back the past only to realize it cannot be done alone. After doing so, they find that with the community or a loved one to encourage you to put some of your weight in their hands, (22) the present becomes tolerable and a future possible regardless of the past.

Baby Suggs, a prominent figure in the community with an intolerable present and past, which helped her learn early on what it was like to be left alone, to deal with difficulties. When the community that had served as her strength withdrew its support, because they were angry and had taken offense to the uncalled-for-pride (137) Baby flaunted when her grandchildren and daughter-in-law were finally together, she no longer felt the support. As if the weakness Baby was suffering from their disapproval was not enough, the family was hit with another blow, when Sethe was imprisoned. As Sethe is being taken away by the sheriff, the community who was already looking unfavorably upon the family\'s pride, asked the questions: Was her head a bit too high? Her back a little too straight? (152). These questions foreshadowed how, as long as 124 continued to be prideful, the community would keep their support withdrawn from the family that lived within. As a result, Baby Suggs, Sethe and the rest of the family was left to deal with their trials alone.

Hence, Baby who at one time found her strength in the community, lost that sense of belonging, her strength then died leading to her giving up the fight. "Her past was like her present - intolerable, and since she knew death was anything but forgetfulness, she used the little energy left her for pondering colors. " (4) Without the community, Baby Suggs stopped looking towards a future and relinquished her fight to ponder color, an occupation that took no energy on her part and that she could accomplish without anyone\'s help.

Similarly, Sethe was left to deal with her problems alone, rather than giving up however, she threw herself into keeping what she has left, and protecting her family from the past. To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay. The \'better life\' she believed she and Denver were living was simply not that other one (42). Sethe\'s equation for a future meant subtracting or running away from the past at all costs. This task proved