PsychologicalRepercussions of abuse in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and DorothyAllison’s Bastard out of Carolina
ToniMorrison and Dorothy Allison are quite forthcoming as they highlightthe ills of abuse. Most of the assertions that they provide touch onthe psychological implications of such mistreatment and as such, itends up messing interfering with the general health of a given personand as such, the general quality of life of such an individual. Thegeneral forms of abuse addressed by the authors happen within thefamily. The paper aims to show the relationship between the twonovels written by the authors in relation to the case of abuse. Itindicates the level of abuse that is leveled upon women and children,which points towards the element of inequality that existed duringthe time and as well, in the current period.
AlthoughBelovedby Toni Morrison was written in the 1860s while Bastardout of Carolinaby Dorothy Allison written in the 1950s, both of them appear to havesome consistency. They show how the element of race and abuse wasperceived in the society. They also indicate the case of inequalitythat may be accorded to other people, especially those of color(Morrison36).They also indicate the kind of ills that face the world today,especially given the fact that cases of abuse and untoward actionstowards people of other races are quite rampant in manyestablishments.
Thenovel Belovedtouches ona setting in the 1860s that was characterized with high cases ofill-treatment of people who belonged to the black community. It isthe same period that slavery had been abolished and there stillexisted a high level of resentment by the whites towards the blackcommunity (Moraga& Gloria64) Most of them felt that banning slavery was quite unfair and hadrobbed them of the free labor that the black community provided,mostly in the cotton farms. The whites would, thereafter, continue totarget people of the black community as they aimed to ‘avenge’ tothem the losses that they had gone through as a result of theabolishment of slavery. The black community also received lesssupport from the government in the form of goodwill. For instance,the Supreme Court failed to address the problem of desegregation thatwas taking shape, in spite of the agreements that were made in the13thand 14thAmendment.
Inher novel, Dorothy explains the harm that was leveled towards women.In such a many males felt that women were inferior and as such, couldnot be accorded some of the opportunities that their malecounterparts were given. The situation was even evident at householdlevel where they were not allowed to point out important decisionsregarding the home (Dorothy76).Some of the issues would relate to aspects touching on to thefinances of the home as well as future prospects that the familywould aim for. The role of women was expected to stay at home andjust take care of their children. Their position in the society wasput in the back banner, where they were not allowed to have any majorrole in the society.
Thediscrimination case would not be accorded to women only, but alsopeople of color. In the 1950s, there were many civil societyactivists who were so concerned with ensuring that cases ofdiscrimination would reduce. They were also against the practice ofsegregation that had taken root in the country that was characterizedwith among others, black children attending different schools fromwhite students (Dorothy76).It is at such a time that Rosa Park refused to stand for someone on abus, just because the person was white and as such, it led to a sparkof mass protests for black rights, an element that would lead togreat results in the long run.
Thetwo cases of discrimination against women and people from the blackcommunity would explain the general cultural orientation of theAmerican people as it indicated the views that they had regardingsome concepts. The fact that many fights had to take place for longfor equality to be achieved in terms of how women and blacks weretreated shows how deep-rooted the problem was. In such a situation,the two novels appear to fete the effort put by various civilactivists as they did their best to ensure that most of the casesthat were present during the time would go on to change in the future(Wetzel 96). They also help to preserve history in such a way that itmay be relevant to most people who could need to look back and get torecognize the efforts that were put in by others in a bid to accordthem the freedoms that they enjoy today.
Thecase of mother-daughter relationships is also evident in both novels.The girls who seem to suffer at the hands of their mothers appear toget less support from society. The problems may be linked to the factthat America is mostly a country of watchers who do very little toassist those who appear to be going through some given level ofproblem. The fact that the two authors have shown the case of girlmistreatment could, therefore, explain the level of thoroughness thatthey had in terms of explaining some of the social issues thatexisted during the time of their time. It also shows how observantthey were, and the kind of conviction they had in terms of trying toexplain the vices that they did notice in the society and the beliefthat they held with the aim of trying to reverse the problem for thepurpose of sustaining better treatment of people and being able toaccord them the kind of high qualities of life that they did deserve.Looking back, one may easily appreciate the work put in by theauthors in terms of outlining the problems faced by people and comingup with strategies that would ensure that they were well handled.
Theone case that is evident is that both Morrison and Alison are quiteforthcoming as they spell out the features of American culture thatexisted in the 19thand 20thcenturies. People were more concerned. In the 1860s, the Civil warshad just ended and the period was marked by a number of movementsthat marked some of the turnaround viewed in the country today. Forinstance, African-Americans had fought for their rights thatculminated in being accorded freedom and a further banning ofslavery. The action marked a new era for them and showed that morewould come. In spite of the considerable achievement that the peoplehad made, the one element theta is evident is the fact that cases ofdiscrimination would still continue, especially, with the propagationof segregation in education whereby there were both African andAmerican schools. In her novel, Morrison had pointed out quiteclearly the case that the total achievement of rights was somethingthat people would have to fight for quite hard as there was a highchance that the fete would not come in on a silver platter.
Thestage portrayed by Allison is that of a time when women were so muchin calling for their rights. They viewed that they had been ignoredfor a long time and men had taken the center-stage to show that theywere the ones in control and were in charge of various aspects thatrelated to both the household and the country (“American RacialHistory Timeline, 1860-1900.”. np). Women felt that they had theright to have active participation in politics and get to have aninfluence on various matters that the country was involved in. Theworld had just come out of the Second World War, and the role ofwomen in the War was quite evident. They had participated quiteactively in the various industrial activities that made productsaimed at providing supplies for the war. Their place in making thehistory of the country would, therefore, not go unnoticed as they hadmade all the plans necessary to ensure that they would remainresourceful to the country through playing their patriotic duties.
Theone common element that may, therefore, be identified in the storiesportrayed by the two authors regarding the 1860s and 1950s is thatthey were periods that were marked with extreme inequalities withsome people having the belief that they were superior to others(Wetzel 97). In fact, Allison highlights the case of sexism where sheshows the suffering that a young girl undergoes in the hands of herfather who has little concern towards her and views her to be of lessvalue. Although Alison applies an extreme analogy to show the kind ofill-treatment that women would go through in the American society atthe time, she is quite factual in terms of showing how the situationactually was, and the kind of struggles that women would have toexperience in a bid to gain a voice in an environment that was somuch dominated by men.
Thepsychoanalytic theory is quite relevant toboth Belovedand Bastardout of Carolina. Thetheory shows the kind of effects that people may be exposed to asthey suffer from some actions that are not only considered sociallyunacceptable, but are outright wrong and a clear infringement upontheir very own rights. The theory bases on the argument that theconscious events that people go through, for the most part, have aninfluence over the subconscious form of behavior that such peoplecould portray (Morrison48).As for the case of abuse that the girl was subjected to by herfather, Allison aims to show that the life of such a girl would notremain the same anymore. She was bound to suffer from mostly, someemotional problems. For instance, she could appear to be quitedistant from other people and would be quite apprehensive in herlife. There is also a huge chance that the girl could end updeveloping loose relationships with other people as she could beconditioned to have a feeling that people are out to harm her.
Thestory Belovedalso explains the kind of close mother-daughter relationship thatwould go on to have an impact on the mother. Sethe, a woman whoescapes from slavery and goes to Ohio still had thoughts regardingher child who had died. About 18 years from the occurrence of the inthe incident and she still has the memories of how the situation wasand the kind of ill thoughts of losing her child was (Morrison73).The situation, therefore, has a heavy psychological effect on her asshe feels that she can never go beyond the occurrences of the timeand overcome the harsh memories that she has had to live with forquite too long. The level of cognitive dissonance that is portrayedin the book is quite massive as is shown in the many flashbacks andnightmares that Sethe experiences as she remembers how it feels beingwith her child and then how it feels waking up one morning and havingto live with the fact that the said child was not there anymore.
Thelevel of attachment that Sethe has with her lost baby seemed to havetaken a huge toll on her, which could go on to show the extremeeffects of the kind of actions that were leveled upon women and thekind of long-standing suffering that they would have upon them. Inthe book Womenof Color: Mother-Daughter Relationships in 20th-century Literature,Elizabeth Brown-Guillory aims to provide an explanation that wouldprovide a rationale for the kind of attachment that Sethe had withher child. Quite essentially, she indicates that women of color had adeep affectionate relationship with their children and would alwaystry to teach them various ways to which they would survive in a bidto attain good standards of life and as well, ensure that they wouldlive on to see the better times that lay ahead of them(Brown-Guillory 26). The reason is because people of color always hadthe belief that things would definitely change for the better andthey would get to experience while different lives from the ones thatthey were exposed to.
Hirsch(1989) also explores the kind of relationships that mothers wouldhave with their daughters and the kind of impact that suchrelationships would have upon both of them. She clearly puts out thatthe form of relationships that mothers and daughters normally have,usually go a long way to have an effect on the psychological behaviorthat both of them could showcase and as well, the level of feministgrowth that they would attain in the long run (Hirsch 77). In theBastardout of Carolina, themistreated girl would suffer great problems and there is a highchance that she could be of bad influence to her future child, as thekind of exposure that she had while growing up was not so good. Shewas oriented to the case of girl mistreatment to the point that shecould not get the real idea as to how a girl could protect herselffully from some forms of mistreatment that other people could bewilling to inflict on her.
Thealienation of Sethe from her daughter would also interfere with therelationship that she had with her future husband. She would latercome out to be attached to a ‘ghost’ of her daughter known asBeloved as she felt that there is no way she could avoid her owndaughter. The case points towards the fact that she was so dejectedto the point that she could not think clearly and be rational on someissues that were so sensitive. Although there was a later exorcism ofthe ghost and Sethe, later on, managed to continue living well, shehad missed quite a lot in terms of forming a lasting relationshipwith her own husband as she had spent most of the time thinking aboutsomeone who was not even there with her (Morrison64).The case could go a long way to show the effects of some level ofabuse that Sethe had received at the hands of her masters. The issueof illusion was real as she could not see things clearly and get tomake sound judgments.
Theone consistency that is established from the Belovedand Bastardout of Carolina isthat not much had changed between the two periods in terms ofmistreatment of people of color and women. The level of unequaltreatment that these two groups of people received was quite high andthere was a need to come up with ways that would see the reversal ofthe same. The case is well highlighted by Neuhausin his article, "The Way to a Man`s Heart: Gender Roles,Domestic Ideology, and Cookbooks in the 1950s." On the uppersurface, the article seems like an innocent guide to women on howthey could cook so that they may be in a position to win the heartsof their men. However, the sexist undertone that is engrained in thestatement is quite strong (Neuhaus 37). It clearly points towards thefact that the role of women in society was limited to the work thatthey could do in the kitchen without giving too much thought to otherskills that they had, as well as not according to them theopportunities that they did deserve such as being able to take partin policy making, something that was quite crucial.
Inconclusion, despite the high levels that women and African Americanswere exposed to at the time, a lot has managed to change over time,although there still exists a large room for improvement. Today thereis a high rate of flow of information, something that has led to manypeople being able to learn about their rights and the actions thatthey may put in place in order to safeguard them accordingly. ToniMorrison and Dorothy Allison were quite categorical in pointing outthe kind of vices that did exist in the society with the aim ofmaking people aware of them and, thereby, formulate strategies withwhich they would be able to prevent ill occurrences from taking placeand bearing a negative impact on people. It is clear that abuse goesa long way to have an impact on people as it could pre-dispose themto some emotional problems that could go on for long periods.
“AmericanRacial History Timeline, 1860-1900.” OccidentalDissent,WordPress, 25 Dec. 2008,www.occidentaldissent.com/american-racial-history-timeline-2/american-racial-history-timeline-iii/.
Brown-Guillory,Elizabeth. Womenof Color: Mother-Daughter Relationships in 20th-century Literature.Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996. Print. 21-29
DorothyAllison, Dorothy. “Bastard out of Carolina” 1992 pp. 21-76
Hirsch,Marianne. TheMother/Daughter Plot: Narrative, Psychoanalysis, Feminism.Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. Print. 69-82)
Moraga,Cherríe, and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds. Thisbridge called my back: Writings by radical women of color.SUNY Press, 2015. 56-67
Morrison,Tonny. “Beloved” 1897 pp. 34-92
Neuhaus,Jessamyn. "The Way to a Man`s Heart: Gender Roles, DomesticIdeology, and Cookbooks in the 1950s." Journal of Social History1999: 529. JSTOR Journals. Web. 13 Nov. 2016. 31-39
Wetzel,Janice Wood. Theworld of women: In pursuit of human rights.Springer, 2016. Pp. 96-98