Beloved Jessica Gavin

Why do parents consider their children's futures so sacred?

It's not unusual for parents to protect their children's future at any cost, taking control to ensure that they will have opportunities later on in their life, even if it jeopardizes the future of that parent. However, the lines are blurred in Toni Morrison's Beloved, where the main protagonist, a motherly former slave, decides that the best way to protect her children from the confines of slavery was to end their lives. This is an exploration of parents' preservation of their children's futures, with a focus on the actions described in Beloved.

As seen in some animals, Sethe chooses to protect her children with violence. This aggression is typically towards the source of danger. However, when Sethe is confronted with the possibility that her offspring may be forced into slavery once again, she makes a dramatic decision that harms them physically. She feels as though it is her duty to make this choice for them so she can spare them of the life of pain and suffering that she experienced, no matter the cost.

"'I stopped him,' she said, staring at the place where the fence used to be. 'I took and put my babies where they'd be safe'" (Morrison 193)

Sethe's actions, seen as horrific and illegal by others, are an event in her life that she stands by. She was jailed for the slaughter of her daughter Beloved, but she had abandoned her hope for her own future to focus on the conservation of her family. Denver is embittered by her mother's actions, but Sethe still stands behind them.
Denver?•It’s me, Sethe•I love you•I’m sorry•One day•I hope that•You understand why I fought• against Everything to protect you•And I hope that•You can see your father•And your brothers•But for now•You have me•And I hope that I am enough

Sethe is not the only individual to be more concerned about her children's future than her own. One of the men she had previously been enslaved with, Sixo, laughs as he is captured and killed. He is invigorated knowing that his lover is pregnant with his child, who will ideally be born free.

"Shouting Seven-O! Seven-O! because his Thirty-Mile Woman got away with his blossoming seed" (Morrison 270)

Parents live on through their children, and for slaves such as Sethe and Sixo, many had accepted that they would not ever be truly free, causing them to put their faith in freedom towards their offspring. Sethe especially felt that it was her duty to ensure that they had a chance, and she took it physically into her own hands.

The characters in Beloved see their purpose in life as serving their children and ensuring the progression of their futures. Sethe feels guilty as a result of ending Beloved's life, and continually tries to convince herself that when Beloved returns, she is worthy of her forgiveness. Sethe stands by her decision to preserve Beloved's future, and she is optimistic that her choice has kept Beloved free.

ME, I'M THE ONE THAT WILL BE THERE • I PROTECT HER • BEARING HER HEART WITH ME WALKING WITH THE MOST CAUTIOUS STEPS • EVERY WAKING MOMENT I SPEND WORRYING THAT I WILL MESS UP AND DESTROY HER LOVE FOR ME • I AM HER SHINING ARMOR • THE ONE THAT IS MEANT TO PROTECT HER • SHE HAS MORE TRUST IN ME TO CARRY HER HEART THAN I HAVE IN MYSELF • I WILL WALK THE COARSE PATH WITH EASE AND PROVE TO MYSELF THAT I AM WORTHY TO CARRY SOMETHING SO DELICATE • THE LOVE I HAVE FOR HER IS THE POWER THAT WILL HELP ME CARRY OUT THIS MISSION • I MADE A PERSONAL OATH TO PROTECT HER AT ANY COST • I WON'T FAIL MYSELF • I WILL PROVE THAT I AM CAPABLE • WITH EVERY STEP I GATHER CONFIDENCE • I NO LONGER WALK WITH CAUTION BUT WITH PRIDE THAT I HAVE THIS MOST IMPORTANT JOB • I WILL COMPLETE THIS MISSION NO MATTER THE COST OR LOST THAT WILL CONFRONT ME • ME, I'M HER SHINING ARMOR •
Parents have some control over their children's futures, and for Sixo and Sethe, the promise that their children's futures would continue was all that they could want, even if it came at their own expense.

Credits:

Created with images by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region - "Sunset over the Ohio River" • skeeze - "bears grizzly mother" • isaiasbartolomeu - "mother's love person people" • Unlisted Sightings - "Silhouetted" • Myriams-Fotos - "hands open fig"

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