To Preserve Innocence

Is it ever justified to end an innocent person’s life? This question proved controversial in the classroom, as students seemed to be split on it. How could one ever rationalize killing an innocent person in any circumstance? Originally, this was my belief. That there was no way something like that could have been justified no matter what way one puts it. But after some thinking, I believe that perhaps in the case of Sethe murdering her own child, the situation may be a little more complex than our surface level assumptions lead us to think.

When a child is born into the world, the mother looks after them; their lives, unburdened and their futures, not yet written. They are free and in the hands of their loving mothers and fathers. But this was not the case for Sethe. As soon as Sethe’s child entered the world, she was a slave, just as her mother was. Sethe knew that if she were to ever be captured, her baby would be forced into slavery. She had experienced just how terrible slavery was; the scarring that came with it, and she could not bear to let her innocent child be treated as an animal like she was. In a sense, Sethe did not want her child to become like her. She wanted Beloved to stay innocent and in her power, the only way she could guarantee that Beloved would, was to take her out of the world.

One thought on “To Preserve Innocence

  1. Jordan SD

    Is it fair to take an innocent person’s life? I question this whenever I think of that scene, however, I feel that Sethe could’ve done a lot more. She didn’t have to kill Beloved. Yes, she was scared and didn’t want her children to be brought into slavery but couldn’t she have forced her kids to run away for a bit and come back later. Why not even sneak them out. I find it over the top that in order to make a point to the Schoolteacher she had to attempt to kill her own kids. If I was put into the situation, I definitely would’ve tried different alternatives before I came to the conclusion of killing my own kids. To this day I’m still conflicted about whether the taking of an innocent person’s life is ever justified.


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