Toni Morrison's Beloved: The Climactic 2nd Book of Morrison's Christian Allegory
IntroductionWhen one looks even a little bit beyond the surface story in Toni Morrison's Beloved, thesymbols and allegory she uses as paintbrushes look more like C.S. Lewis then Uncle Tom's Cabin,though it's undeniable that the truth that prompted the writing of Uncle Tom's Cabin is present here. If Lewis had been an African American woman with slave ancestors, who more comfortable with the body, more poet then monumental mind, he could have beaten Morrison to writing this Trilogy. Insome ways she is more obvious then C.S. Lewis, beginning most of her works with a scripture verse(or Christian allusion) and giving characters Biblical names, but in other ways much more elusive. Theallegory lies below the surface, hints and tinges of truth mostly obscured because of Morrison'semphatic yet disjointed descriptive style. Morrison's Trilogy of
roughlycorrespond to C.S. Lewis three allegorical works in the chronicles of Narnia,
The Magicians Nephew
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
, and the Biblical eventsof Creation & the Fall, Redemption, Heaven & the New Creation.
begins the Trilogy by quoting from the Nag Hammadi , the corpus of writings of the firstChristian heretics, the Gnostics. “I am the name of the sound, and the sound of the name. I am the signof the letter and the designation of the division” (
, inside cover). The image of the apple and Adamand Eve throughout sings like a jazz riff throughout the rest of the book. The first sin in God's perfectcreation and the first heresy that took root after Christ's resurrection and the founding of the newchurch are interminably linked. Both are rejections of God when his love is most heated, most pure,and most apparent.
is all about variations on that theme. While Adam and Eve remind the reader of paradise, most of the notes Morrison's narrative plays are on the jazzy painful repetition of the songof sin looped and reshaped time after time, measure after measure. Jazz music's chaotic seemingly un-linked passages on the same thing are the perfect metaphor for this work. Men leave women. People