In Beloved, the schoolteacher is a typical slaveholder. The scholar Chen guifeng said, “The schoolteacher, who is cruel and brutal, allows his nephews to conduct a pseudo-scientific study on the slaves, treat them like lab animals.”3 He seems to be equitable. But the schoolteacher asks his two nephews to do so-called research; he used to measure the black slaves. The two nephews steal Sethe’s milk .The white people do anything just as they like and the black have no other choices, only endure all.
Sethe is beaten by the slaveholder frequently. She is scared and swears that she would never allow her children to suffer from it. So, when Halle and Sixo’s escape plan failed, she also decides to escape. But she is not set free although she fled. The Schoolteacher finally finds her and asks her to kill the child Beloved. What’s more, she is a woman. “She was forced to be a slave of the white, a tool of giving birth to children, a mother who didn’t have the chance to rise her own children up”4 It is the evil slavery that gives the right to the slaveholder like the schoolteacher to trap on the black’s bodies and soul. So, the tragic life of Sethe is the tragedy of history.
In a way, Sethe is a humanist. When Mr. Garner is alive, Sethe is pure-hearted, staunch and hardworking, because she have a belief to live well through hardworking. When the schoolteacher takes over Sweet Home, she is courageous to bring her children food. We all know that slavery is dehumanized, but Sethe is a slave with human nature who fights against slavery. Her power alone isn’t strong enough to fight against slavery, so she fails and her life becomes a tragedy.
In Beloved, almost every black is covered by the shadow of slavery. Their memory is full of bloody wounds. They don’t want to remember the terrible past memory. But they have to live a sorrowful life because it is difficult to avoid the scene that always occurs in their minds. According to Freud, to cure a psychological problem, one should let the past reappear. That is to say, to experience what has happened. In 1873, Sethe and her daughter Denver live in 124. A visitor comes here that is Paul D, who is a slave with Sethe on the Sweet Home and also suffers terribly on the plantation. Paul’s arrival arouses Sethe’s painful memory.
“In a family, the relationship between the mother and the child is most significant because the relationship between the two plays a crucial role in the whole life of the child.”5Because Sethe’s mother is a slave, she has abandoned Sethe when she is a baby. So the relationships between them have been cut from then on. When Denver askes Sethe about her mother, she remembers that her mother has tried to run away, but finally she has been captured.
Slavery creates a situation where a mother is separated from her child. When the black women can’t provide motherly care for their children, they feel frustrated. Likewise, when children are separated from their mothers, they lose the familial identity associated with mother-children relationships. Sethe is never able to see her mother’s true face. So she isn’t able to associate with her own mother, so she does not know how to connect to her own children, even though she wants to.