Memory and Rememory in Beloved

             The novel Beloved by Toni Morrison is told in a flashback manner, in line with the workings of the human mind. Throughout the novel, the characters work to avoid the past because it is filled with pain and horror for them. The characters must come to grips with these experiences, accept and recognize them in their consciousness. The memories of the past are recollected through rememories that have been repressed in order to avoid the pain of reality. The rememory of certain events can be aroused unexpectedly through many different devices. The sight, sound, or touches of a place or event are all triggers that can enable rememory to occur. These images brought back serve to heal the suffering brought on through past experiences. Morrison's thematic concept of memory and rememory is defined through her transitions between past and present, the triggers that set off the two, and the effect on the novel.
             The transitions from past to present and back again are shown through the suppression of memory. Prior to Paul D's visit, Sethe had suppressed her "rememories" and chose to block the experiences she knew she could not keep hidden. The characters cannot directly address the issue of their past. They avoid the past because "if you go there and stand in the place where it was, it will happen again" (Pg. 34). Memories assume a life of their own and the past is always out there to haunt and torment. The baby's ghost torments Sethe, but at the same time, she does not wish the ghost to leave, for that would mean the reality of her suffering would vanish and be forgotten. The realms of past and present are two that must remain distinct. The memories that can hurt one must "stay behind [or] you might have to stomp it out" (Pg. 243). The memory of a place or event lives on, even when previously existing conditions are no longer present. Sethe is unable to run away from it and !

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Memory and Rememory in Beloved . (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:46, January 20, 2017, from