Beloved

In the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison, the dehumanization of African Americans during the years of slavery is discussed on nearly every page. One that really sticks out is the Last Supper scene where Baby Suggs cooks a meal for all her friends and neighbors. Through this scene, Morrison shows how the dehumanization of slavery distorts the mind so much that African Americans are willing to turn against each other and stresses the importance of the African American community sticking together.

The Last Supper Scene depicts a large gathering of escaped slaves to eat dinner in celebration of Sethe and her children arriving at 124. Baby Suggs cooked “enough for the whole town pretty near” and her “three (maybe four) pies grew to ten (maybe twelve)” (Morrison 161). The entire meal was all a bunch of excess. The fact that Baby Suggs was able to do this; was able to celebrate and momentarily forget the horrors of slavery; was able to do something good and nice for everyone, caused them to get angry. They were upset because “she had overstepped, given too much, offended them by excess” (Morrison 163). Her neighbors’ anger shows the dehumanization of slavery in that they are upset because they have lived such a minimum life, never experiencing anything in excess. Their shock and appall over the celebration and the gluttony illustrate how unaccustomed they are to a normal life.

Their anger also stems from the fact that they feel like Baby Suggs hasn’t had as rough a life as they have. They resent her for this and Baby Suggs was very much aware of “the smell of disapproval” (Morrison 162). They resented her for having been “bought out of [slavery] by a doting son and driven to the Ohio River in a wagon” (Morrison 162). The neighbors feel as if Baby Suggs has lived a privileged life and causes them to question “Where does she get it all?” and “Why is she and hers always the center of things?” (Morrison 161). Their jealousy of Baby Suggs’ ability to “love everybody like it was her job and hers alone” and the fact that they get angry about it and turn on her shows how dehumanizing slavery is (Morrison 161). The neighbors are jealous because Baby Suggs can love. Loving someone shouldn’t be something only allowed for white people. Morrison uses their jealousy to show this dehumanizing aspect of slavery.

Morrison also uses this to stress the importance of the African American community sticking together because while Baby Suggs may have had an easier escape from slavery than some of them, they all have gone through the same horrible things. She may be able to love now, but when her children were born she still “barely glanced” at them because “it wasn’t worth the trouble to try to learn features you would never see change into adulthood anyway” (Morrison 163). It is obvious Baby Suggs can love now, but Morrison shows us that wasn’t always the case. Baby Suggs struggled just like everyone else going through slavery which solidifies the author’s belief that African Americans need to stick together because they are all rooted in the history of slavery.

Beloved shows the injustices and dehumanizing nature of slavery throughout its entirety. The Last Supper scene is no different. In it, Morrison shows us how slavery dehumanized every African American and even though some had it easier than others, they all suffered just the same and because of this the author stresses the importance of African Americans sticking together.





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