Mother/Daughter Relationship: Psychological Implication of Love in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

  • OB Nweke


Motherhood posed great challenges to African American women under slavery as reflected in literary works by Black writers. Black mothers lost the opportunity and freedom to perform roles of ‘caregivers’ to their children. Instead, their children’s milk was appropriated, under very humiliating and intolerable conditions, to nourish white babies whose mothers were incapacitated. As victims of such humiliating and
shameful experiences, the black women, realizing the implication of this situation to their sex, developed survival strategies to protect themselves and their female children. This resulted in some very strange relationships between mothers and their daughters.
This paper re-examines Toni Morrison’s Beloved to identify an example of the types of mother/daughter relationship that existed between black mothers and their daughters and the implications of such relationship on the Black American society. The paper is a psychoanalytic reading, utilizing Melanie Klein’s Object Relations theory to reveal the psychological motivations for the behaviour of the protagonists
of the novel in the peculiar circumstances they find themselves. The paper exposes the slave masters’ strategies under the slave regime in America and the psychological implication of decimating the blacks and their family institutions on the generation of the Blacks in Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

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eISSN: 1813-2227