Toni Morrison, Beloved, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987

  1. Christopher MacGowan

Published Online: 24 FEB 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781444393675.ch65

The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook

The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook

How to Cite

MacGowan, C. (2011) Toni Morrison, Beloved, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987, in The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444393675.ch65

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 24 FEB 2012
  2. Published Print: 21 JAN 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405160230

Online ISBN: 9781444393675



  • Toni Morrison, Beloved, New York - Alfred A. Knopf, 1987;
  • central event of Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel - Sethe's act of infanticide;
  • Garner's story, told in Steven Weisenburger's Modern Medea - A Family Story of Slavery and Child-Murder from the Old South;
  • project titled The Black Book - Margaret Garner, whom Morrison's character is based, returning to slavery after the murder;
  • emancipation, novel telling Sethe's story - within broader context of individuals, families, and communities impacted by slavery;
  • The story, told through recollections of various characters - a process illustrating roles of memory and forgetting, in ways in which a painful personal and cultural past is lived with;
  • community, distancing itself from Sethe and her family - after the murder as one way of living with such an event;
  • “To Sethe,” narrator comments in the novel - the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay;
  • final pages, of the novel - moving into the present tense, Paul D tries to help Sethe prepare for a future, that is more than “simply not that other one”;
  • story, Morrison insisting through its retelling and elaboration - that its significance must not be lost


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Bibliography