Painful Memories

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Memories create meaning in one's life as well as in the lives of others. The past is an unavoidable reality that may either put a smile on your face or haunt your every waking moment for the rest of your life. In Toni Morrison's Beloved, Sethe's relationship with her memories disturb her constantly, and will forever remind her of her unfortunate youth. Memory can imprison or set one's soul free.

As Sethe becomes accustomed to Beloved's presence at 124, she finds trying to forget her past continually increases with difficulty. The memory of Sweet Home and of the death of her baby girl stirs up the feelings of longing and yearning to make the pain cease. In Sethe's mind, the only way to make the pain stop is to explain to Beloved why the baby girl was killed. Sethe's great feelings of guilt fester inside of her as she tries to make Beloved understand that the death was the only answer.

As the memories come flowing back she is forced to face them and in turn can begin to move on in her life. She has spent her life living in her past and not her future. "Wrapped tight, hunched forward, as she started home her mind was busy with the things she could forget." (Beloved, p. 191) Instead of forgetting the past, like she has for years, she needs to face what has happened and use it to better her life. By concealing her pain she withers from within. By allowing the pain out for others to hear she frees herself from the pain.

Sethe needs to forgive herself for what she has done to her baby girl. She needs to understand what has happened is not her fault. She has been mistreated and dehumanized by...