“The Beauty and the Pain”: Image of the Tree in Beloved

Ying XU


This thesis explores the complicated images of the trees in Beloved. The archetypal image of the tree as tree of life reflect the pastoral “beauty” in the south by its regenerative power which assists the black slaves to gain physical flight from the slavery and the former slaves from the psychological grip of the slavery past. The “strange fruit” of the southern trees and the tree-like scar in Sethe’s back reveals the “pain” in the slavery south. Beloved’s seemingly perverse image as the residue of the slavery past aggravates this “pain”, but her foils to a revived tree stump representing the tree of history and to the metamorphosing tree-god Dionysus help the former slaves rebuild the bond with their past, thus retrieve the lost “beauty” in the south. In this sense, the continuity between the two seemingly contradicting concepts—“beauty” and “pain” is established.
Key words: beauty, pain, life; history, continuity
Résumé: Le présent article explore les images compliquées de l’arbre dans Beloved. L’image archétypique de l’arbre, comme l’arbre de vie, reflète la « beauté » pastorale du Sud par sa force régénératrice de l’arbre qui aide les noirs à acquérir la liberté et à se débarrasser du joug mental imprimé sur leur coeur par l’esclavagisme. Le « fruit insolite » sur l’arbre du Sud et la cicatrice en forme d’arbre sur le dos de Sethe révèlent la « douleur » du Sud sous l’esclavagisme. Et Beloved, qui représente l’ombre laissé par l’histoire esclavagiste dans la vie des noirs, aggrave cette douleur. Mais l’image de la souche de résurrection et l’image du dieu de l’arbre permettent aux noirs de rétablir le lien avec le passé pour retrouver la « beauté » oubliée dans le Sud. En ce sens, la continuité entre la beauté et la douleur, deux notions apparemment contradictoires, semble être établie.
Mots-Clés: beauté, douleur, vie, histoire, continuité

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/j.css.1923669720080402.008


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