Exploding and Being Swallowed: Cannibalism in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Lay Sion Ng, Ruzbeh Babaee


Cannibalism is a meta-discourse in Toni Morrison’s Beloved. In Alan Rice’s “Who’s Eating Whom,” Beloved’s dream of “exploding and being swallowed” has been critically linked to the cruel practices of slavery, yet it is important to note the way in which the dream of “being swallowed” is largely unexplored. This paper concentrates on the latter aspect, stating that in Beloved, cannibalism and slavery relate not only to the domination of black slaves by white masters, but also to the black mother-child relationships between Sethe and Beloved, Sethe and Denver, and the black sister-sister relationship between Denver and Beloved. This paper argues that the whites designate themselves as the ones who represent civilization through implanting the image of cannibalism into the black Other. Ironically, the system of slavery precisely deconstructs the images that they have built of themselves, making them something no more than cannibals.



Mother-daughter Relationship, Slavery, Black Identity, Deconstruction of White Cannibalism

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijclts.v.5n.1p.11


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