Wednesday, August 29, 2007
pulitzer prize winning novel from a nobel laureate...that's beloved by toni morrison.. i picked this book up after reading about it on oprah's bookshelf. Having enjoyed all the books I was excited to pick this book up because i thought it held great promise. It was very different from what i expected it to be. Firstly, there was a 'horror' element to this that somehow didnt seem to blend with the rest of the theme.. All those who know me would know that I am not a great fan of horror.. tales of dead people coming back to life tend to creep me out and this, being a book, creeped me out a little lesser than the movies did..but creeped me out nevertheless..
The book is set in the times after the civil war. This is when black slaves were starting a free life in America..either after legally buying their freedom or after running away. The story line is pretty interesting..It revolves around Sethe, a woman who has lived all her life as a slave. She gets married to Halle who is also a slve at Sweet Home and doesnt really think beyond life in the farm.. a free life..
Suddenly, life in the farm changes after their liberal master dies and the strict schoolteacher takes over..
Sethe escapes from Sweet Home with three children and fully pregnant with the fourth. Halle, her husband, had worked outside the farm and saved enough money to free his mother- baby suggs.. Sethe intends to escape and go to her. A young white girl helps her deliver her baby girl in the middle of the escape and she names her daughter "denver" in memory of her..
She eventually gets to Baby Suggs place and they begin to lead a free life when suddenly one day, the school teacher comes searching for her..to take her and her children back...
This is when Sethe is torn. She doesnt want to take her children back to the life she escaped from. She knows how hard it would be for them and decides that she would not let them experience what she did.. She decides that there is only one way to protect them from slavery..death..as soon as she kills her baby girl, beloved..she is stopped from killing her two boys.. and then taken to jail..
I somehow admire Sethe for having the courage to do what she did. She chose death over slavery for her own kids and she had the courage to take her daughter's life with her own hands.. I totally admire her for that..
But the whole "horror" aspect of the book kinda put me off.. Beloved, the child who she kills, comes back to haunt the house.. Sethe somehow finds peace in the presence of her daughter's ghost. When the ghost is ridden from the house by an aquaintance of Sethe from the past, it takes the form of a teenage girl and comes to live with them.. Now thats where the book gets spooky and illogical.
I can understand memories of the girl haunting you..but the girl herself?? thats a little too much to take..
The book as such is well written.. and i neednt say it..the pulitzer and the nobel prizes say it all.. towards the end, the book has multiple voices.. Sethe speaks, Denver speaks and Beloved speaks.. they each have their own versions of the story to say.. their feelings..their thoughts..
Inspite of the horror element, the book is gripping.. the state of the slaves is pitiable.. The joy that they get out of living a free life is something that we would never experience in life..
I would definitely recommend this book to anybody who wants a good read.. maybe the horror aspect of it would make more sense to them than it made to me..