Monday, March 1, 2010

Beloved – Who’s on First?

I will be putting this link at the top of each of my blog posts for Beloved - as I read this book, I could not get this song out of my head: Sinnerman - Nina Simone

So, my greatest challenge when starting to read this book was with the regular shifting of perspective and time in the novel. This was something that I came to enjoy as I reached further and further into the novel, but as I neared the end of the first book, I noticed that of the four primary characters in the story, the omniscient narrator could only see into the mind of three: Sethe, Denver, & Paul D; not Beloved. Each of these three characters, throughout the story, becomes more and more realistic and human; and the emotional foundations and struggles that they face become concrete. On the other hand, Beloved’s mind is never exposed to the reader, and she becomes more and more of a mystery (so to speak, it’s pretty hard to top the mystery of a crazy wet woman in new shoes that shows up on your doorstep on afternoon). Her motivations are not revealed except through her actions and the perceptions of others, never through her own story.
What I enjoyed about this was that it gave the character an ethereal nature that wasn’t grounded in reality at all. As I read this, I’d really hoped that Beloved was a real person that had experienced some wild story rather than actually being the obvious supernatural manifestation of the ghost. I thought that seeing the other characters realize that Beloved was a ghost would be interesting for their internal struggles, and then Wham! – she was a real person all along running from an abusive white man who invades 124 and really upsets the ghost, who brings down the house on top of him. Luckily for Sethe and her crew, the house was insured for a pile of money that the Bodwins use to build a new house for them to live in, and since the ghost got revenge on the abuse of the white man, it is satisfied and disperses. Now, that would have been pretty cool.

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