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(Re)memories of Slavery: An Examination of the Traumatic Past,Present, and Future Depicted in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

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The application of Toni Morrison’s Beloved as a lens through which one can analyze intergenerational trauma on an individual and communal level results in a blueprint towards a remedial process.

The application of Toni Morrison’s Beloved as a lens through which one can analyze intergenerational trauma on an individual and communal level results in a blueprint towards a remedial process. The characters and their experiences in her novel are representative of a myriad of ways in which trauma is manifested. I have broken down the concept of intergenerational trauma into the idea that it can be seen as the state where one is both simultaneously “falling” and “fallen” at the same time. Used here, the term “falling” refers to the consistent, individual trauma that one is experiencing. On the other hand, the term “fallen” refers to the trauma that a community as a whole has experienced and internalized. This framework that I establish based off of Beloved is a launching point for the conversation surrounding the topic of remedial actions in relation to intergenerational trauma that resulted from slavery. Using it as a basis of knowledge allows one to truly gather the weight of the situation regarding trauma postbellum. Considering the current climate surrounding any meaningful dialogue, knowledge is one of the most important aspects. Along with the concepts of “falling”/”fallen,” I also coined the term productive memory, which refers to the act of confrontation as well as the remembering of intergenerational trauma. The use of productive memory is imperative in addressing the prior ideas presented regarding intergenerational trauma and the possible pathways to move forward.

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  • 2021-05

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The Vilification of Wilderness and Its Relation to the African Experience in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness: An Ecocriticism

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First-wave ecocriticism, while studying the relationship between humans and the environment with the focus of emphasizing the value of nature, maintains a categorical divide between these two highly connected subjects.

First-wave ecocriticism, while studying the relationship between humans and the environment with the focus of emphasizing the value of nature, maintains a categorical divide between these two highly connected subjects. However, second-wave ecocritical studies reduce this gap between nature and humans by analyzing the environment’s ultimate self, humans as part of that environment, and comparisons between the treatment of enslaved bodies and the land. A second-wave ecocritical approach is used to examine the vilification of wilderness versus the claim of the cultivated environment despite its violent history and its impact on other captive bodies within Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899) and Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987). It finds the perception of the wilderness is used to define other enslaved entities, characterizing them as villainous and so excusing their exploitation and mistreatment. Conrad's novel follows the story of Marlow and internally, the story of Kurtz, both of whom are members of The Company that goes on expeditions to find ivory in the Congo. The jungle, which is seen as a possession and exploitable by other colonists, differs from Kurtz’ view after living with the Natives in the Congo. Rather, Marlow finds that European colonists possessive hunt for ivory, a sought-after commodity, into territory they claimed for themselves after brandishing it wild, reflected their perceived darkness of the jungle back onto themselves. Morrison’s novel introduces Sethe, who kills her child, Beloved, to spare her from the life of a slave. In both novels, the utility of the enslaved body is regarded as more important than its selfhood, which serves to not only categorize slaves as lower than both humans and animals, but removes their ability to represent themselves through communication, further disallowing them to own themselves or speak against actions that have been taken against them.

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  • 2021-05