From the Same Tree: Gender and Iconography in Representations of Violence in Beloved
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Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved capitalizes on the simultaneous gender neutrality and semantic multiplicity of tree images associated with rape and lynching in order to eschew any hierarchy of black oppression, which might privilege riveting instances of male victimization (lynching) as the emblem of that oppression over instances of female victimization often viewed as less than noteworthy. My claim in this essay is that in Beloved Morrison piggybacks on the power and currency of lynching iconography—particularly tree imagery—as a way to demonstrate continuity between violence committed against black men and violence committed against black women and as a way to interpolate black women’s sexually violated bodies into the publicity that black men have mostly benefited from through antilynching efforts organized as legislative campaigns and even art exhibitions.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Humanities. Literature Section
University of Chicago Press, The
Alexandre, Sandy. “From the Same Tree: Gender and Iconography in Representations of Violence in Beloved.” Signs 36.4 (2011): 915–940. Web. 28 Aug. 2012.
Final published version