After class today, I was thinking about the foreword in relation to the supernatural presence in the house. Someone mentioned that the ghost is one of the many tools Morrison uses in order to bring the reader into another world. In essence, the supernatural helps “kidnap” the reader and bring them into a literary world where the rules are no longer their own. In some ways this mirrors Africans’ enslavement and then their involuntary and unfair thrust into a life that they could no longer control.
The first line, which we already discussed some in class, situates the reader into thinking that a non-human has feelings, “124 was spiteful” (Morrison 3). Morrison then kidnaps the readers into thinking about a widely conceived non-human, a house, having feelings; this can be directly compared to the widespread belief in the 19th century that black people were not totally conceived as having feelings/being fully human. The reader already is obligated to accept the idea that a house has feelings, a building (!), which is so strictly not human, therefore making room for the reader to begin sympathize with all the characters in the novel. Although spitefulness is not an emotion that is easily sympathize-able, the fact that a house is spiteful automatically, begs the reader to ask “Why???”
Morrison although kidnapping the reader, an obvious negative activity, turns it around and promotes a positive outcome, to understand another. This oppressive act becomes a tool that begs the reader to look at another’s feelings and ask questions and then ultimately, the reader is asked to try and understand the answers.
Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Penguin Group, 1988.