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Literary Commentary – Beloved

Quote: “Right on her was a circle and a cross burnt right into the skin. She said, ‘This is your ma’am. This,’ and she pointed. ‘I am the only one who got this mark now ‘Mark the mark on me too.’‘She slapped my face’ ‘I didn’t understand it till I had a mark of my own” (Morrison 72-3).

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Introduction: Beloved has gotten Sethe to open up about her relationship with her mother. It is revealed that Sethe barely saw her mother and had little to no relationship with her other than blood.This was due to the fact that they were slaves and her mother was constantly working, even before Sethe got up in the morning. One day Sethe gets pulled to the side by her mother and she shows Sethe the branding she has that sets her apart from everybody else. Sethe suddenly gets worried and asks her mother to mark her so that she can be recognized.

Analysis: Slavery has torn Sethe and her mother apart so much that they almost never see each other. However, that has not stopped Sethe’s mother from attempting to be close to her and love her. She wants Sethe to be able to recognize her even when she would normally be unrecognizable. She wants Sethe to be certain when she is dead so that Sethe knows when she has to stop worrying about her mother. To Sethe at the time, the mark seemed to be something that is necessary and good. Sethe’s mother tried to get that idea out of her mind really quick. She does not want Sethe to go through what she has been through. She loves her too much to think about her going through the branding process, both the pain of the hot metal scarring her skin as well as the pain of being a slave.

This quote also shows the extreme horrors of being a slave. As mentioned before, there is the inevitable fact that as a slave, branding will occur. Being branded is humiliating, dehumanizing, and extremely painful. It proves that they are thought of as property and only property because banding is a practice that…


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