Beloved - Trees

Beloved - Trees

  • Submitted By: pinkpenguin
  • Date Submitted: 10/18/2008 6:57 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 1093
  • Page: 5
  • Views: 1

For several characters in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, trees are a source of comfort and protection. Denver’s “emerald closet” of boxwood bushes is a sanctuary of her own, a place which she can escape to and reflect in solitude. Paul D reminisces of the plentiful trees at Sweet Home and describes the trees as inviting and trustworthy, like a close companion. He finds his freedom by following a path of blooming trees leading to the North. Throughout the novel however, there is contrasting imagery of trees. At times, trees are positive symbols of growth and life. When connected to slavery, trees reveal violence. The sycamore trees at Sweet Home are beautiful and mesmerizing, but are heavy with the dead slaves that hang from their branches. Trees become the sites of lynching and burning, as in Sixo’s death. The chokecherry tree on Sethe’s back is at times described as being full of life. In reality, the tree is unfelt by Sethe, whose back skin has been dead for years, and is only a collection of scars from the beatings she received as a slave. Morrison uses this contrasting imagery to convey that slavery, an unnatural, man-made institution, violates both nature and slaves and perverts their natural functions.
Trees offer comfort and protection for the characters in the novel. Denver turns to nature and the outdoors to escape from the troubles of 124. She discovers a “round, empty room” (34) in the woods formed by “five boxwood bushes, planted in a ring” (34). Denver claims this secret space as her own, and soon begins to spend most of her time there. Denver’s closet is a sanctuary where she can contemplate and rest in peace. The seven foot high trees and the “fifty inches of murmuring leaves” (35) provide reassuring shelter for Denver, who is protected from “the hurt of the world” (35). Denver feels troubled and lonely now that the ghost of her baby sister has been kicked out from the house and her mother pays all of her attention to Paul D, who has moved in. In her...

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