Different Types of Love Anna Armstrong

Everyone loves differently, and everyone reacts to trauma differently. Two contrasting people who both experienced trauma, such as slavery, and losing the ones that they love, have wildly different approaches to love. Paul D's type of love is at one end of the spectrum, because he is afraid to love, and Sethe's is at the other end of the spectrum, because she loves too much. Both types of love have their benefits and drawbacks. In the book Beloved by Toni Morrison, Paul D and Sethe's styles of love are foils of each other, and both kinds of love have their benefits and drawbacks.
love [luhv] noun a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. 2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend. 3. sexual passion or desire.

Examples of how Sethe and Paul D's styles of love are foils of each other

Paul D's Style of Love

"Risky, thought Paul D, very risky. For a used-to-be-slave woman to love anything that much was dangerous, especially if it was her children she had settled on to love. The best thing, he knew, was to love just a little bit; everything, just a little bit, so when they broke its back, or shoved it in a croaker sack, well, maybe you'd have a little love left over for the next one" (Morrison 54). Paul D can't imagine why Sethe would give herself to love, when there is such a high chance of it being taken away. He has developed a system where he only loves a little here and there, because he can't stand to be hurt again. Paul D is paralyzed by fear, and Sethe gives in to that fear without a second thought.

"And in all those escapes he could not help being astonished by the beauty of this land that was not his. He hid in its breast, fingered its earth for food, clung to its banks to lap water and tried not to love it. On nights when the sky was personal, weak with the weight of its own stars, he made himself not love it. Its graveyards and lowlying rivers. Or just a house---solitary under a chinaberry tree; maybe a mule tethered and the light hitting its hide just so. Anything could stir him and he tried hard not to love it" (Morrison 316). Once more, Paul D does not allow himself to love somethings, not even an inanimate object. He has had so much taken from him that he believes that he could not bare the loss of losing anything, not even land. Sethe would have loved this land fiercely, but Paul D does not want to feel the immense pain of loss, even if that means giving up the joy of giving himself up to something he loves.

"It was some time before he could put Alfred, Georgia, Sixo, schoolteacher, Halle, his brothers, Sethe, Mister, the taste of iron, the sight of butter, the smell of hickory, notebook paper, one by one, into the tobacco tin lodged in his chest. By the time he got to 124 nothing in this world could pry it open" (Morrison 133). Paul D feels too much pain when he thinks of what he has lost and what he has suffered through. So, he stuffs it away, out of sight and out of mind. But, by allowing all that terribleness to fester, it actually takes away his ability to love. He does not acknowledge his pain, so it does not go away. Sethe feels her pain, so she can love.

Sethe's style of Love

"Too rough for him to listen to. Too thick, he said. My love was too thick. What he know about it? Who in the world is he willing to die for? Would he give his privates to a stranger in return for a carving?" (Morrison 239) Sethe knows the beauty of love, but also the sorrow of loss. She loved Beloved so much that she killed her to protect her from going back into slavery. Sethe willingly parts with all that she posses for those that she loves, while Paul D would never think of doing that. However, Paul D has not had to feel the terrible sorrow that comes with giving everything and having it still not be enough.

"'Your love is too thick.' 'Too thick?' she said, thinking of the Clearing where Baby Suggs' commands knocked the pods off horse chestnuts. 'Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all'" (Morrison 194). Sethe believes that Paul D is not really living by not loving. She does not believe that one can only love a little bit, not really. She thinks that he is selfish, not giving any part of himself to another person. There is no such thing as love without pain for her, something Paul D may never understand.

"It was not real yet. Not yet. But when her sleepy boys and crawling-already? girl were brought in, it didn't matter whether it was real or not. Sethe lay in bed under, around, over, among but especially with them all. The little girl dribbled clear spit into her face, and Sethe's laugh of delight was so loud the crawling-already? baby blinked. Buglar and Howard played with her ugly feet, after daring each other to be the first to touch them. She kept kissing them. She kissed the backs of their necks, the tops of their heads and the centers of their palms, and it was the boys who decided enough was enough when she liked their shirts to kiss their tight round bellies" (Morrison 11). This is what Paul D is missing out on when he does not love. The reader can feel the happiness and peace that Sethe feels when she is reunited with her children after escaping to freedom. After sacrificing so much, Sethe gets to reap the benefits of having loved so deeply. Paul D may never feel such happiness in his love because he can only love a little at a time, but he will also not have to feel the intense grief of loss again.

How Slavery Has Had an Impact on Sethe and Paul D's Abiltites to Love

According to "When It All Falls Apart: Trauma's Impact on Intimate Relationships" by Anastasia Pollock, trauma survivors often have trouble connecting to their partners, have difficulty with intimacy, can't find answers to problems, and isolate.

Both Sethe and Paul D show these signs when it comes to love. However, Paul D more closely follows these signs. He feels like he has the lost the ability to love because he has had so many things taken from him and he has been so abused. Sethe swings the exact opposite way, by putting everything she has into loving her children. However, they both self isolate. Sethe doesn't really talk to anyone in her community and Paul D has been wandering the country for 18 years.

Dangers Of Love - Poem by Rebecca .c. Brier Falling in love is like falling on the front lines of a battle [field], you [take a] chance of being blown away or [coming] home a hero. Love is so dangerous that it can bring the most sane of [us] to the point of insanity. But one thing you can always count on is when ever love is added to the mix there are bound to be some tears in [whichever] way you end up [taking].

Sethe's love leads to extreme happiness and unhappiness. One can feel the joy that Sethe feels when she comes home and kisses her children. She has given everything she has to her children, and she will do anything to protect them. She even kills one of her daughters to keep her from going back into slavery. Her codependent love is clearly illustrated with Beloved, when she stops eating because she must give everything to her. Denver sees the two of them, "beribboned, decked-out, limp and starving but locked in a love that wore everybody out" (Morrison 286). Their love, like the quote and the poem above says, is driving them insane. Love is a double edged sword, and Sethe's edge is the complete opposite of Paul D's. She is unable to distance herself from who she loves, creating a dangerous situations for all parties involved.

Paul D has gone the opposite direction as Sethe. Refusing to deal with any of his awful memories or take the chance of losing everything he loves, he dehumanizes himself and feels that he has no heart, only a tobacco tin box that is rusted shut, never to be opened again. He hasn't felt human in years, and can only wander the country, never setting down roots. He has place to call home and no one to call his family because he is too afraid of getting hurt again, until he arrives at Sethe's house. Although he has not felt the terrible pain that Sethe felt when she killed her daughter, he also has not felt the joy that Sethe felt when she saw her children again. Paul D has been drifting through life, surviving instead of living. He is terrified of the kind of love the poem describes, where there is a chance of failure and tears. But by shutting out that kind of love, he also shuts out the chance of "[coming] home a hero" (Brier).

Created By
Anna Armstrong


Created with images by metin.gul - "Sunflower" • fill - "sunset red pair" • Snake3yes - "Love" • rightee - "Love"

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