Parting the shadowy veil: Trauma, testimony, and shadow in Toni Morrison's "Beloved"

Melissa Ann Ruisz, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

Toni Morrison's Beloved deals with characters who suffer from trauma and abuses through American slavery, and need to heal. C. G. Jung's theory of shadow, Dori Laub's concept of testimony, and an analysis of symbols associated with Sethe's trauma show that Sethe cannot heal because she projects shadow pieces into her trauma, preventing her from knowing and truthfully witnessing to her trauma. Moreover, Sethe cannot heal because she cannot narrate her trauma to a listener who, according to Laub, must participate in the process of testimony; the reader must serve as the outside listener. Sethe's predicament is a metaphor for America's shadow of slavery; just as she refuses to see and re-integrate her shadow qualities into her self, which would enable her to create testimony and heal from her traumatic events, so too does the U.S. collectively refuse to see and re-integrate American slavery into consciousness. ^

Subject Area

Literature, American|Psychology, Personality

Recommended Citation

Ruisz, Melissa Ann, "Parting the shadowy veil: Trauma, testimony, and shadow in Toni Morrison's "Beloved"" (2006). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1435330.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI1435330

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