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.