International Council for Education, Research and Training

Glimpses of self-alienation in Tony Morris novel ‘Beloved’

Yadav, Nutan 

Associate Professor, Government College for Women, Hisar Haryana India


Tony Morrison’s novel ‘Beloved’ may be counted as a revolutionary novel- as a unique addition to the genre – fictional and the typical slave narrative structure. It is a fair document of the dehumanizing effects of slavery that leave the protagonist Sethe stuck in the past and unable to escape the “continuing apocalypse of racism”. ‘Beloved’ is one of a very few examples of literature that is written in a maternal voice. This novel speaks to the unspeakable, and somewhat incommunicable, rawness of trauma. ‘Beloved’ speaks to the pervasiveness of psychological trauma. Here Toni Morrison tackles life’s darkest elements through the story of an escaped slave based around the murder of her innocent infant. The twisted mother-daughter relationships of ‘Beloved’ showcase the fracturing effect of slavery upon the human mind. Morrison radically presents this phenomenon by granting the psychological effects of slavery a physical embodiment, resurrecting a figure to adopt the secondary selves of the living. This paper explores the crisis of slave life of American in particular and all over the world. 

Keywords– Unique, turmoil, maternal, psychological, fictional

Impact Statement

Toni Morrison is one of the most celebrated authors in the world. In addition to writing plays, and children’s books, her novels have earned her countless prestigious. As the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Morrison’s work has inspired a generation of writers to follow in her footsteps.  In 1987, Morrison released her novel called Beloved, based on the true story of an African-American enslaved woman. In this book, Morrison animated that reality in prose that rings with the cadences of black oral tradition. Her plots are dreamlike and nonlinear, spooling backward and forward in time as though characters bring the entire weight of history to bear on their every act. Through the memories and experiences of a wide variety of characters, Beloved presents unflinchingly the unthinkable cruelty of slavery. In particular, the novel explores how slavery dehumanizes slaves, treating them alternately as property and as animals. To a slave-owner like Schoolteacher, African-American slaves are less than human: he thinks of them only in terms of how much money they are worth, and talks of “mating” them as if they are animals. 

About the Author

Dr. Nutan Yadav is an eminent personality in the field of higher education. She is an associate Prof. of English in Department of English at Govt. College for Women Hisar. She has the teaching experience of 17 years of PG and UG classes in English. She did her Doctoral (PhD.) from Bharthiar University Coimbtore and PGCTE from English and foreign language university Hyderabad. She is a member of GJUS&T Distance Education Program at PG and UG level. She is also the member of Haryana Board paper evaluation committee. She has presented numerous research papers in national and international conferences. An author of 1 books and editor of 2 books, she has successfully completed UGC minor research project on English language teaching in Haryana. She is a paper setter and evaluator of various universities in Haryana. She is a frequent invitee as a resource person in GJUS&T HRDC in Orientation and Skill Development Programs. She is the author of the study material of GJUS&.T Distance Education Courses of PG and UG English. She is also an evaluator of IGNU programs. She has numerous publications on her credit in national and international reputed journals.


1. Boudreau, Kristin. ‘Pain and the Unmaking of Self in Toni Morrison’s Beloved’. Contemporary Literature, vol. 36, no. 3, 1995, pp. 447–465.
2. Caesar, Terry Paul. ‘Slavery and Motherhood in Toni Morrison’s Beloved.’ Revista de Letras, vol. 34, 1994, pp. 111–120.
3. Cullinan, Colleen Carpenter. “A Maternal Discourse of Redemption: Speech and Suffering in Morrison’s Beloved”. Religion & Literature, vol. 34, no. 2, 2002, pp. 77–104.
4. Hamilton, Cynthia S. “Revisions, Rememorizes and Exorcisms: Toni Morrison and the Slave Narrative.” Journal of American Studies, vol. 30, no. 3, Pt. 3, 1996, pp. 429–445.
5. Hinson, D. Scott. “Narrative and Community Crisis in Beloved.” MELUS, vol. 26, no. 4, 2001, pp. 147–167. Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research 2018, Issue 9 Selfridge 83 Koolish, Lynda.
6. “To Be Loved and Cry Shame: A Psychological Reading of Toni Morrison’s Beloved.” MELUS, vol. 26, no. 4, 2001, pp. 169–195.
7. Lightfoot, Cynthia, Michael Cole, and Sheila R. Cole. The Development of Children. 7th ed., Worth Publishers, 2005.
8. Liscio, Lorraine. “Beloved’s Narrative: Writing Mother’s Milk”. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, vol. 11, no. 1, 1992, (pp. 31–46).
9. Moglen, Helene. “Redeeming History: Toni Morrison’s Beloved”. Cultural Critique, no. 24, 1993, pp. 17–40. Morrison, Toni. Beloved. Vintage. 1987.
10. Osagie, Iyunolu. “Is Morrison also among the Prophets? “Psychanalytic” Strategies in Beloved.” African American Review, vol. 28, no. 3, 1994, pp. 423–440.
11. Putnam, Amanda. “Mothering Violence: Ferocious Female Resistance in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Sula, Beloved, and A Mercy.” Black Women, Gender + Families, vol. 5, no. 2, 2011, pp. 25–43.
12. Schapiro, Barbara. “The Bonds of Love and the Boundaries of Self in Toni Morrison’s Beloved.” Contemporary Literature, vol. 32, no. 2, 1991, pp. 194–210.
13. Wyatt, Jean. “The Maternal Symbolic in Toni Morrison’s Beloved.” PMLA, vol. 108, no. 3, 1993, pp. 474–488.

Scroll to Top