Living with the Dead: Memory and Ancestral Presence in <i>Beloved</i>

K. Zauditu-Selassie

in African Spiritual Traditions in the Novels of Toni Morrison

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780813033280
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039060 | DOI:
Living with the Dead: Memory and Ancestral Presence in Beloved

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This chapter examines the manifestation of the concepts of memory and ancestral presence in Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. It analyzes the main character Sethe and ways in which the ancestor, as memory, works in consonance with African iconography, and ritual to engender psychic wholeness. It suggests that Morrison's inscriptions physically re-creates the tight packing of bodies in the holds of ships that brought Africans as captives to America, with their arms crossed, knees drawn up. It also highlights the importance of ritual re-enactment in Sethe's process of revision, rememory and remembrance of the ancestor.

Keywords: memory; ancestral presence; Toni Morrison; Beloved; African iconography; ritual re-enactment; rememory; revision; remembrance; ancestor

Chapter.  9913 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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