I was just reading Natalie Haynes’s Pandora’s Jar, and she discusses Beloved briefly as a Madea story. This is true in the sense that the plot of Beloved involves Sethe, a formerly enslaved woman now ten or more years after the Civil War, living in a house in Ohio that is haunted by some sort of presence. Sethe too is a quite haunted woman. In a moment of abject fear and panic, some years earlier Sethe kills her infant daughter when she believes that she’s about to be sent back to slavery, only to later realize she was wrong, and the child died for nothing. Now she’s living in the house with her grown daughter, and early in the novel, a reunited lover. One day a woman appears at her door calling herself Beloved, and of course we all kind of realize it’s the embodiment of the anger and sadness in the form of her grown daughter.
The novel is in part a magical realist novel, but deep emphasis on the realistic part. The novel is also near breathless and relentless in its narration, and so much spookier and ethereal than other Morrison novels, who’s narrative voice is less hidden than it is here. It’s quite possibly her most powerful novel and probably best, alongside Paradise, though it’s not my favorite of her works, but I had been thinking of rereading for it awhile, especially in light of the cowardly attempts to ban it in schools and the embarrassing, recent backlash against Morrison in Virginia public education.