As many of you have noticed, allusions to the Bible abound in Beloved. For example, Toni Morrison’s style in her description of Baby Suggs at the clearing (p. 103) recalls the first book of Genesis:
"’Let your mothers hear you laugh,’ she told them, and the woods rang. The adults looked on and could not help smiling.
Then ‘Let the grown men come,’ she shouted. They stepped out one by one from among the ringing trees.
‘Let your wives and children see you dance,’ she told them, and groundlife shuddered beneath their feet.
Finally she called the women to her. ‘Cry,’ she told them. ‘For the living and the dead. Just cry.’ And without covering their eyes, the women let loose.”
1) Reading: For familiarity with the original text Morrison alludes to, read Genesis 1: http://bible.gospelcom.net/passage/?book_id=1&chapter=1&version=9
2) Writing: Choose ONE of the following options. Each requires a 1.5-2 page response to the question. Print and bring to Tuesday’s class and post on the blog.
a. Option 1: After reading the text of Genesis, compare its content to this brief description of Baby Suggs at the clearing. What analogies can you make by comparing these texts? More importantly, look for differences in these passages. What deeper meanings does Morrison achieve from the differences that play off of this ancient text ?
Consider these questions to get you started: The creation of the earth is the purpose of Genesis. How is this the purpose for Baby Suggs’ declarations? What exists when God starts creating the earth? What exists when Baby Suggs is “creating”? What is the order or creation in genesis? How is it similar and/or different from Baby Suggs’ creation?
b. Option 2: Create a character and/or setting of your own, and include an allusion to Genesis (the part you just read) as one way to convey information and depict something deeper in your fictional piece. Choose a different part of Genesis from the one above. Mimic Morrison’s style as well as you can (weaving together personified nature, blurred boundaries of place and time, abstractions, and concrete images to stand in for ideas…and anything else you notice about her style).
c. Option 3: Pick any other Biblical allusion you have noticed in Beloved. Look up the story/ text it alludes to in the Bible (Can do this online at http://bible.gospelcom.net/). Explain the allusion itself and explain how it adds depth to the way you understand the novel’s plot, context, and/or characters.