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Beloved by Toni Morison


            "No body, but he who has felt it, can conceive what a plaguing thing it is to have a man's mind torn asunder by two projects of equal strength, both obstinately pulling in a contrary direction at the same time." ~ Lawrence Sterne.
             In Toni Morison's novel Beloved, the character of Denver exemplifies the Sterne quotation above. She is drawn to Beloved but is also fiercely loyal to her mother whom Beloved is steadily devouring. Denver is divided between the love she have for her mother and the need for love she seeks from Beloved. Because Beloved is causing both mental and physical harm to Sethe, the forces dividing Denver are pulling in opposite directions. It is there "contrary direction" that is tearing Denver's mind apart; she cannot have one without losing the other. Love is immeasurable; it cannot be quantified or even rationalized in this case and therefore Denver's love for her mother and her need for love from Beloved are "two projects of equal strength". .
             Denver and Sethe have never been separated; the rift between them is not measured in distance but emotion. Their bond is strongest because since she was born, Denver has shared her mother's life. She lived in the filthy cell, the haunted homestead of 124, and experienced every setback and ugly reality with Sethe as an equal. Psychologists say that Individualism occurs when a child realizes that they themselves, their parents, and the world around them are all separate entities. Since leaving Sweet Home, Sethe has separated herself and her daughter (as a pair) from the outside world, as has Denver, but not because she sees herself as an individual. To Denver her mother's view is her view, the idea of having her own opinion of the world does not occur to her until the last few chapters of the novel. This shows that until then Denver cannot realize her individualism. Paul D.'s arrival seriously confounds Denver's perception.


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