A TREE CAN BE A HEAVY LOAD TO CARRY
Throughout our lives, we have all had our own “tree” carved onto us. Whether it is on our back, in our heart, in our soul, our hands or feet, we can all share the knowledge and pain our lives have borne. So there is an understanding of how and what Sethe has had to bare throughout her life, and every branch of her tree has its individual story to tell. Not only has she been affected by the choices she has had to make, but also everyone who has come in contact with her have been affected. One branch of Sethes tree tells of her killing her baby and another tells of the guilt she has felt throughout the years and the near destruction of her from the haunting of her dear “Beloveds” ghost. Another tells of her boys running away and another tells of the neglect that her younger daughter has had to face.Because of this guilt, she almost paid for it with her life. However, the stages that her mind her took through with coming to terms with her involvement in Beloveds murder, her redemption of that burden, and near madness were the elements that helped to guide her through the guilt. From the redemption of her guilt, Sethe has learned that when a branch of her tree has weltered a little, which means that her family bond is not as strong, the tree does not die, because it has a strong root. A root that represents all of the sorrows of her life, but she is still strong and is willing to fight to get rid of the weltering branches and sprout new ones, which represents new hope, new life and new beginning.
In comparison with Sethe, many of us could probably relate to Sethe and the tragedies and devastations she has had to face. Like her, we and the people around us have had to face death, neglect, uncertainties, self-doubt or inner demons. Sethe explains that she took her babys life in order to save her from the treacherous world that she would have greeted. She did not want her baby to grow up in slavery like she had to, or starve because she did not have any milk to feed her. “.and I could not let her nor any of em live under schoolteacher. That was out”(163). But was that really an excuse to use for what she had done by taking her childs life? Paul D, who was her long-lost friend for eighteen years, disputes her reasoning for killing her child. He states,
The prickly, mean-eyed Sweet Home girl he knew as Halles girl was
obedient(like Halle), shy(like Halle) and work-crazy(like Halle). He was
wrong. This here Sethe was new. The ghost in her house did not bother her
for the very same reason a room-and board witch with new shoes was
welcome. This here Sethe talked about love like any other woman; talked
about the baby clothes like any other woman, but what she meant could
cleave the bone. This here Sethe talked about safety with a handsaw. This
here new Sethe didnt know where the world stopped and she began.
Suddenly he saw what Stamp Paid wanted him to see more important than
what Sethe had done was what she claimed. It scared him”(164).
Paul D was bewildered and outraged by Sethes actions towards a child and found it unforgivable. Because she killed her child others deemed her a demon, incapable of love, and her younger daughter began believing that was true. She was deemed insane and others around her felt the devastation of her demise. Denver, who is Sethes younger daughter, lived in fear after learning the truth about the horrific actions of her mother. She wondered what would stop her mother from killing her, if killing was so easy for her.
I love my mother but I know she killed one of her own daughters, and
tender as she is with me, Im scared of her because of it. She missed
killing my brothers and they knew it. They told me die-witch! stories to
show me the way to do it, if ever I needed to.Im afraid the thing that
happened that made it alright for my mother to kill my sister could happen
again. I dont know what it is, I dont know who it is, but maybe there is
something else terrible enough to make her do it again. I need to know
what that thing might be, but I dont want to. Whatever it is, it comes from
outside this house, outside the yard, and it can come right on in the yard if
it wants to”(205).
It must be an awful feeling to live and be in fear of ones own mother.
Because of Sethes guilt for killing Beloved, she has lost her job, has isolated everyone from her including Denver, and now Beloved was working on taking Sethes health. Sethe has no money because she lost her job and consequently, had no food, but did Sethe care? No, all Sethe wanted to do is to play with Beloved. “But it was Beloved who made demand. Anything she wanted she got, and when Sethe ran out of things to give her, Beloved invented desire. She wanted Sethes company for hours to watch the layer of brown leaves waving at them from the bottom creek”(241). Beloved wanted to consume Sethes life as much as possible. She started dressing like Sethe, imitated Sethes persona, she even slept with Paul D and became pregnant for him. “She took the best of everything first. The best chair, the biggest piece, the prettiest plate, the brightest ribbon for her hair, and the more she took, the more Sethe began to talk, explain, describe how much she had suffered, been through, for her children”(241). Beloved drained Sethe of all her strength to the point where Sethe contemplated suicide.
When I put that headstone up, I wanted to lay in there with you, put
your head on my shoulder and keep you warm, and I would have.I
couldnt lay down with you then. No matter how much I wanted to. I
couldnt lay down nowhere in peace, back then. Now I can. I can
sleep like the drowned, have mercy”(204).
Paul D, who had abandoned her after learning of Sethes horrific actions, and Denver, who was abandoned by her mother, were the two people who saved her life. Sethe had to have been at her lowest point in order to contemplate suicide. After the boys held her down and stole her childs milk, she was unable to provide food for her “Beloved.” What is a mother if she cannot provide food for her children? She is unworthy of living and unworthy of being a mother. Paul D, after he learned of Sethes decline in health, went to visit her. The pitiful sight of Sethe was troubling and it was then that he had to restore her faith. “Sethe .me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow,.You your best thing, Sethe. You are”(273). Paul Ds reassurance was the one thing that
Sethe needed to restore her faith in believing she is a good, decent person. Along with Paul D, Denver too was an aid in Sethes resurrection. Denver after being left to save herself, came to the aid of Sethes demise. In comparison to Beloved, Denver too had to take on the role of mother, unlike Beloved who wanted to destroy her mother, Denver took care of the child, “Sethe.” Denver received food from the neighbors and brought home the paycheck to help with the daily maintenance of the family. Another group that helped Sethe, was the community. The community rose to the aid of Sethe to help her fight her demons.
When times were bad and Sethes branches were breaking and her roots were being uprooted, the community and the people who care the most about her, combined their strength to save a woman fighting her demons. This is true for each of us, when there does not seem to be any hope and our world is caving in, we can always count on the people who care about us the most. If our friends, neighbors and families strength is not strong enough, we can always count on the Lord for His strength because He has an abundance to give.