I remember there being a massive gas meter or electrical box near my house growing up. It was a colossal eyesore, so the company that owned it painted it blue. A nice shade of blue. This is what some of the characters from Toni Morrison’s Beloved do to their pasts. Paint a pretty color on it.
the earliest example of this starts out in the first chapter of the book. Sethe’s mother in law Baby Suggs spends the final 8 years of her life an invalid staring out the window and looking at the pretty colors that the clouds make. We later discover the person she was before this. She was a strong pillar of the community, even so that everyone envied her. A sacred holy preacher, turned into a shell of her former self following the murder of her granddaughter by Sethe. Unable to understand the horror show that was before her, she gave up. Sat on her bed and looked at the pretty colors.
After Sethe killed her 2 year old daughter to keep her from re-entering slavery, she gave her a tombstone. On it bore the word Beloved, not being able to afford the word dearly, painted pink. A light pastel pink, painted the past away. This white washing of the past ties into the main theme of the story. In the book Beloved comes back reincarnated as what she would be if she survived that day. After integrating herself in Sethe’s family she begins to Isolate Sethe and bleed her dry. Here the books theme of one’s inability to come to terms with the past and let it go is tied with color. In Sethe’s lowest point, practically banishing everyone in her life baring Beloved, she spends what little money she has on candy and pretty yellow ribbons. this is the ultimate expression of the previous two points.
The past of the characters is an eye sore. one that instead of coming to terms with it, they paint it a pretty color.