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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Budding Writers -> 
Loving a tree is not loving small (I)
    2018-06-27  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Qianyu Ann Nie, Emma Willard School

In “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, Paul D named a tree Brother. This tree was at Sweet Home, the plantation where he served as a slave before attempting to run away. What was special about Sweet Home, or, the probable reason that the plantation was named Sweet Home, was that all the slaves there, including Paul D, were given relatively more rights than slaves on the other farms before the schoolteacher came.

When Mr. Garner was alive, Paul D believed that his manhood lay in his right to own a gun, to receive an education, and to voice his opinions; but this belief was shattered as the schoolteacher arrived and, in his own opinion, “corrected” the way to treat the Sweet Home slaves. To Paul D, who remembered neither his parents nor life before Sweet Home, the tree played the role of an older brother who was his mental support and spiritual guide when slave life was difficult and made up for his absence of family ties when he was lost in his hard-earned but unexpected freedom.

During the years at Sweet Home, Paul D established and developed a need for family ties as his relationship with the other slaves shifted after small families were formed within the big Sweet Home family. Before Sethe was sold to Sweet Home, Paul D “didn’t miss” family ties because the slaves, although all owned by the Garners, felt independent and belonged to each other. In fact, the bonds they formed were so tight that they would risk their lives running away together as a group when the schoolteacher’s punishments became intolerable, never planning to leave anyone behind to suffer.

However, Sethe’s arrival and Baby Sugg’s buyout made Paul D see the small family that Halle was forming within this big family of Sweet Home. Sixo’s commitment in meeting the Thirty Mile Woman then reinforced the idea taking shape in his head — a desire to have a family of his own after knowing that everyone at Sweet Home does not just belong to each other. In Paul D’s words, the Sweet Home in the early days was a “cradle” which was “split” as Mr. Garner died.

It is interesting to note that the word “cradle” stands in opposition to Paul D’s claim of manhood, implying that all the rights and freedom he enjoyed were completely based on Mr. Garner’s decision, and that he was naive like a baby to believe his owner’s philosophy, having not seen the harsh world of the “adults” which, in this case, are the other slaves not of Sweet Home. “Cradle” also implies Paul D’s sense of belonging at Sweet Home because the cradle is the resting place for an infant where he is protected. But disillusion began as Halle formed his own family, being chosen by Sethe as her husband over the rest, which was also the moment when Paul D sought refuge underneath the tree he called Brother. Paul D felt lonely because of Halle uniting with Sethe, and as a resolution, he turned to Brother.

To Paul D, the “trees were inviting; things you could trust and be near; talk to you if you wanted to.” From these descriptions, one could tell that the tree is an older brother figure to Paul D, who longs for family ties and fatherly love, a sentiment triggered by Halle and Sixo’s behaviors, later incentivized by the sight of other black families.

In addition, the presence of the tree as a brother figure to Paul D in the story setting serves to draw attention to slavery’s detrimental effect on slaves’ families. Paul D attempted to run away but failed, receiving severe and humiliating punishments from the schoolteacher. Later, “Paul D began to tremble” in fear of the unknown future when the schoolteacher was sending him away for economic income. On his departure, “he turned his head, aiming for a last look at Brother, turned it as much as the rope that connected his neck to the axle of a buckboard allowed, and, later on ... there was no outward sign of trembling at all.” Paul D bid farewell to the tree by making efforts to take a last look at Brother, a sibling he found for himself at Sweet Home.

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