The Subversion of Master’s Defining Power in Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”

By Sima Farshid.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Incorporated in Toni Morrison’s creative enterprise to portray the unendurable life of slaves and to articulate their age-stifled voice in “Beloved” (1987) is the picture she draws of the ruthless slave-holder named Schoolteacher. This callous concurrent holder of power and subject of knowledge, who considers Sweet Home slaves subhuman creatures, tries to scrutinize their characteristics to know and define them, and thereby sustain his power over them. By her disdainful depiction of Schoolteacher’s petrifying rationality via which he attempts to classify and define slaves, Morrison sharply criticizes his inhuman conduct, and furthermore reveals how the mortifying discourse of white racists sustained their power. On the other hand, she dramatizes how Schoolteacher’s vicious exertion of power results in the ensuing resistance of the slaves who resist and subvert his defining power by such shocking acts as murdering their beloved child or laughing while getting burned which altogether reveal the spuriousness of his scientific classifications.

Keywords: Slavery, Racist Discourse, Power and Knowledge, Resistance, Subversion

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp.21-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 382.274KB).

Dr. Sima Farshid

Assistant Professor, English Department, Islamic Azad University, Karaj Branch, Karaj, Iran (Islamic Republic of)

She is an assistant professor at Islamic Azad University, Karaj Branch, where she teaches English and American literature and directs graduate studies of the discipline. She has written several articles that have been published in national and international academic journals, has translated some books from English into Persian, including Saul Bellow’s Herzog and Raman Selden’s Reading Theory and Practicing Literature, and has compiled literary terms in an English-Persian dictionary.