A Journey into the Threshold

As I stand at the threshold of this course, nervous but ready to explore both the differences and similarities between Dante and Morrison’s work, I am wondering what will I be able to contribute to this course? What will my role in this journey be? What will I gain out of it? How will I view things after this course? Most importantly, who will I become after this course? I have so many thoughts and questions running through my mind while taking part in this course so early on. I am sure to have these questions answered throughout the course and surely will be able to reflect upon it at the end of the semester.

I have no background knowledge or experience in working with Dante besides hearing things from peers and friends who have taken courses about Dante. This far into the course I have already been able to see and connect references in Morrison’s Beloved to Dante’s works. When I have missed some connections my classmates sometimes would see things I was not and that was very stimulating and helped me to think about text’s more deeply and in different points of views. Through the course I am looking forward to challenging myself and improving my reading, writing, and observation skills. As I am standing in the threshold of this course I will continue to venture on with an open mind. 

When reading the first Canto in Dante’s Inferno I must admit I was somewhat lost. The difficulty I was having spiraled from the thoughts “what is this really saying?”, “how does this have anything to do with Morrison’s Beloved?”, and the overwhelming thought of “wow this is the most challenging work I have ever read”. With all of these overwhelming thoughts of having to make connections from two completely different time periods, it took me taking a deep breath and realizing I can only try my best and I am not in this alone, that I was then able to start making and understanding connections. 

One of the class discussions that has really resonated with me, is the connection of the seven deadly sins. The relationship between the seven deadly sins and the characters (or their actions) in Beloved relate to Dante as well. Dante encounters many different souls who are being punished for the deadly sin in which they are most guilty of during their life and are bound to eternal punishment. The sin that stood out to me the most in Beloved was pride. Sethe demonstrates pride in many ways throughout one is how prideful she is about killing her child and saving her from the enslaved life she lived. Right in the beginning of the reading I was already thinking “how can a mother love their child so deeply that killing them to protect them seems like the best choice they have?” In the article by the New York Times “Toni Morrison, In Her New Novel, Defends Women” we read “But mother love is also a killer” (paragraph 6). In the novel Sethe seems to hold onto her pride and almost lets it consume her bow because she was not allowed to feel that before. However, Paul D. challenges her pride when she is telling her story of her having enough milk for all her children. He tells her that she has two legs and not four and then leaves (Dr. McCoy’s class notes from February 8th). After the class discussion on this I was thinking more about how a mother’s love can be a killer? Is it because of the sacred bond of growing a human being inside of you that can make some mother’s love dangerous? Can it be over barring? 

I am someone who finds numbers very important and meaningful so, when we were discussing number three in class it has had me thinking about it ever since. A thought that came to mind after class while I was driving to work was “bad things come in threes” and the opposite of the “good things happen in threes”. I have heard people say it both ways all my life and to me I thought about the relationship between Beloved, Sethe, and Denver. From pages 236 to 256 we hear from Sethe, then Denver, then Beloved, then on page 256 Beloved ends by saying “You are mine, You are mine, You are mine” these words gave me the chills. As Beloved says “You are mine, You are mine, You are mine” (256), she is describing the complexity of their relationship by saying it three times sticking to our theme of things coming in threes. Sethe plays the role of a mother to Beloved and Denver, Beloved plays the role of sister and a guide for Denver but to Sethe she is her “second chance” because she is making up with Beloved for her guilt she holds within. Denver plays the role of the guide and sister to Beloved, but also the “forgotten” because Sethe is not a very present mother to her like she is to Beloved. This forms a love triangle between the three of them. I am wondering if in the rest of the trilogy (seeing how trilogy means three) will we see the number three be an important factor until the end? 

Standing in the threshold of what I feel will be a really great experience, class thus far has started calming my anxieties of starting a new course with new classmates and a new professor. As someone who worries about letting others around them down, the first couple weeks have ensured me that I will not do so in the duration of this course, instead I will be heard and guided through a journey. The class environment alone has made me feel as though I can relax and be involved in class without being criticized or made to feel inferior. I have much to learn and I am looking forward to having further small group discussions and collaboration along with full class discussions. I am looking forward to challenging myself to find connections between different texts and seeing myself grow as a not only a student but as a person as well.