The Holy Damned

I’ve been told many times that the Bible is the greatest book ever written, from a purely literary standpoint, I might even be inclined to believe this. The correlations to biblical figures or stories to modern day literature is a prevalent subject of discussion that I have with myself. In class when we discussed the Holy Trinity, I realized there are many biblical aspects of Beloved, that I may have previously overlooked. Though I must admit, some of the distinctions drawn and conversations roused in class escape me in meaning, and I often feel as if I am only getting a general idea of what is being said. And to that point I might be diverging from the path of discussion traveled in class. Consider yourself forewarned.

Reading Beloved alongside Dante’s Inferno emphasizes the conversation in which Toni Morrison is engaging in with Dante. Our in class discussion regarding throughlines, opened another door which prompted me to assume that Beloved is Vigil’s equivalent, able to move through and guide 124’s inhabitants through their own personal Hells. Beloved also has the unique ability to travel back to the land of the living, and in that ability to transcend the worlds, she exerts an otherness that cannot be escaped. As a reader I found that Beloved made me uncomfortable, her otherness lingered on the pages of the book and much like 124 itself, I felt haunted. This concept of haunting is something that Morrison explored in a mercy, as well. something we didn’t get to discussing in class is the fact that Jacob, after his death, rises from the grave and haunts his home that he never got to live in. In my first post i said that i’d be examining some of the commonalities in themes and the like within Morrison’s work, and I have found many. ( Though I won’t be discussing them in this post to focus on the main post here’s a running list: haunting, the toughness of feet, a respect of nature esp. trees, and the complexities of a mother’s love).

However, it is the presence of haunting that intrigues me the most. The holy Trinity is The Father, the Son, and the holy Spirit, or ,as in my Baptist upbringing, the Holy Ghost. Despite Beloved being the physical representation of a haunting, a ghost, I cannot see her as the holy ghost, because she is not holy. Beloved was a sinister character in my reading every single step of the way. To quote the film V for Vendetta “What was done to me was monstrous. And they created a monster.” Beloved isn’t sweet baby steps, she is a dog tossed so ferociously at the wall and broken that he refuses to return to the house, she’s slamming doors, and sounds without a tangible source. Beloved is not anything good or holy, at least in my reading, she is “baby’s venom”, Denver nursing milk and dead baby blood from her mother, and she is the hell of love in the time of slavery. I do not think that Beloved is any part of the holy trinity, I can’t see her as that. Beloved is one of the damned, and her mother’s love made her that. She is a consequence and even in her return that is all that she can be.

Forgive me, I do not know the bible well enough to know any story it contains that is a reflection of this circumstance, but I do hope that someone might add that mssing point to this conversation!

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