Beloved By Toni Morrison

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
to be extremely difficult and taxing on Sethe, for not only did she have to live
out her years in a house palsied by the baby\'s fury at having its throat cut,
but those ten minutes she spent pressed up against dawn-colored stone studded
with star chips, her knees wide open as