Sexual Imagery as a Theme
As I started reading Beloved I soon saw the reoccurring theme of sex. In the first few chapters of the books she brings up several different forms of sexual intercourse as well as the after effects, negative or positive. Sethe reflects on the memory of when she first arrived at Sweet Home and how all the men there wanted her sexual. As they waited for her to make her decision of who she was going to chose, the men would participate in beastiality by fornicating with cows. She continues the story and talks about how she eventually chooses Halle as her suitor and they consumated their marriage consentually in the corn fields. Some off 18 years later Paul D shows up at 124. The sexual tension is still there. They flirt and before the end of the night Paul D is feeling her breasts. Also, when she is burying her child she agrees to have sex with the engraver in order to have the word Beloved placed on her tombstone. Although she agreed she did it out of desperation. The reoccuring sexual images could represent many things such as the dominance of men over women or the ever present memory of slavery. She shows the experience of slavery by always being submissive, especially with the engraver. Sex also reappears when Sethe is talking about her mother. She remembers the story Nan told her about how on the way to America they were repeatedly raped by white men on the ship and how her mother threw away all the children she concieved with the white men. Rape is showing the power of men over women regardless of race. The violation of Sethe's body is present in almost every chapter. She just can't get a break. She molested, violated, and raped by almost every man she meets. But the image of sex is not limited to humans. At least twice the image of sex with animals has appeared. Animal and human, as well as animal and animal (the turtles Beloved watches). Nor is sex limited to heterosexuality. While Paul D is in prison he is subjected to sexual abuse as well. Rape and violation are not limited to the women in the book.