Beloved and “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac

The song that I thought of immediately when reading Beloved was “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac.

To me, the song has this eerie feeling due to the lyrics and the beginning guitar. The lyrics that were the most like Beloved in my opinion were:

“Running in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies ” (Line 2) This specific line was haunting to me in how much it connected with Beloved. The stories of all of Morrison’s characters running from their pasts and the different dynamics of what love means to each character seemed to relatable to this song. Specifically, Sethe and Beloved’s story and their ongoing struggles throughout the book; especially in the end, Sethe’s love is just simply not enough for Beloved.

“And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)”
(Chorus) Again, the reference of love is strong in this song and I think that it connects so well to Beloved. The lines “I can still hear you saying, You would never break the chain” remind me of the idea of breaking promises and breaking expectations. The ongoing question of why Sethe killed Beloved (until the ending) reminds me of this line. The reference to love and never breaking the chain (perhaps a promise?) in the chorus seems like an ode to Beloved (even though I know it’s not).

The last lines (Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)) repeat over and over emphasizing the connection that “the chain” creates. The “chain” in this could almost be the past? The past keeps us together and in order to stay together, you have to be aware of the past.

Here are the full lyrics:

Listen to the wind blow, watch the sun rise
Running in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies

And if, you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)

Listen to the wind blow, down comes the night
Running in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies
Break the silence, damn the dark, damn the light

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain (Never break the chain)

Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)
Chain keep us together (running in the shadow)

Storytelling through both space and time in Beloved

While flashbacks are often used in storytelling, Toni Morrison really takes it to the next level and utilizes it to enhance both the characters and story. Beloved is a story that is fixated on the past. So much so that a central character is a literal representation of the main characters’ past.

Toni Morrison is able to move seamlessly between the past and present in order to provide background and context to important events in the characters’ lives. Memories are often told in great detail and from multiple points of view. Providing several points of view can help understand how each character was affected or shaped by that memory.

For example, Sethe’s wedding day is first told from her perspective. However, it soon becomes apparent that we can’t trust just her take on that day to be reliable. While she thinks that nobody knew she and Halle had sex in the cornfields, Paul D. and the others were quite aware. This is just one example, although these types of situations occur several times throughout the book.

From the Past to the Present

In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the past haunts the characters and exerts its influence on the present in many ways. Arguably, memory in Beloved takes center stage. 

In Beloved, memory is conveyed as a painful part of the human consciousness. In the novel, Sethe is haunted by her past and cannot seem to move forward. Thus, she teaches her daughter that “nothing ever really dies” (44). Additionally, she believes that “the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay” (51). 

For example, Sethe and Paul D are haunted by their memories of slavery. Yet, after years of repressing these memories, Paul D finds the strength to confront his past and make some kind of peace with it, and he wants the same for Sethe. 

“Sethe,” he says, “me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow” (322).

Paul D implores Sethe to stop dwelling on the pain of the past, particularly all the ways she has failed those she loved. Paul D acknowledges that the past will always be part of his story but he holds out hope to Sethe that they can build a new future. Paul D made a specific choice to move forward even if that means opening his heart up again, and he wants Sethe to do the same.

I believe that one of the principal messages of Beloved is that the past should not be the impediment to the present. While painful parts of our pasts must be acknowledged before we are able to lay them to rest, it is important not to dwell. The past is something that is hard to forget and regardless of how horrific it may be, it can not be changed. Significantly, what is chosen to be done by the memory of the past certainly shapes our futures and our ability to move forward.

Is She Wrong?

Throughout the time of slavery, many people did the unthinkable by taking their own lives or their children’s lives just to keep them out of the hands of a slave owner. Sethe makes that ultimate choice but is she wrong from taking the life of her child Baby Suggs.

Sethe puts her child baby Suggs to rest after the slave catcher comes to take them back to slavery. Sethe feels that if she out hurts her child from the pain of slavery she can save her child from the time and trama of everything she had to endure doing her time on sweet home’s plantation. Paul D felt she was being an “Animal” and could have easily run before taking the life of her child but is she wrong or is she right the question is why is she wrong and why is she right. She is right from the perspective that no one wants to see someone that they love and care to be placed into a system that works them and destroys them from the inside out. Sethe was not trying to find an easy way out for her kids but find a better way for them to be free and go to the next phase of life. Here is where some might feel she is wrong for killing her child since she has two feet and not four and could have easily run until she reached safety or gave it a fighting chance to make it out safely. Sethe took the choice of her childhood growing up and being able to make it through life without being enslaved. Even if Baby Suggs was enslaved she could have still possible made it out by escaping sweet home even though it would not be easy, it was not impossible since her mother and others in the community were able to escape as well.

Sethe chose to take baby Sugg’s life he choice was not a selfish choice but it was also a somewhat non-moral choice to decide to take another’s life. So is Sethe wrong or was she right for her decision it’s up to you and how you look at it from different non-bias perspectives.

Do we all have ghosts?

In Tony Morrison’s “Beloved”, the character Beloved is a ghost who represents the stories and traumas of her mother, Sethe, who has suffered a horrible past. However, at first this isn’t clear to the reader. We know that Beloved is this random person and if you are paying attention then you very quickly realize that she is Sethe’s daughter and that she is a ghost. But as the story develops further and further, it is apparent that Beloved is more than that, she brings up the past to Sethe and is a constant reminder of her painful times.

This is a very interesting way for Morrison to talk about slavery and trauma, and how it continues to affect people throughout their lives. With Beloved, this reminder was inescapable, and it was getting worse and worse. It was basically the main component driving the theme that the past can never truly be forgotten or escaped.

So do we all have these ghosts? Maybe they aren’t just for trauma, but for all of the past. No matter what happens in people’s lives, the past is what got them there, and it will stick with them for the rest of it. So in a way, everyone has little “ghosts” that are reminders of what we all went through, and that force us to face what has happened to us.