In Beloved, characters experience egregious violations of their human rights that develop situations that the English language can not truly capture. The author, Toni Morrison tries to communicate the meaning of some indescribable feelings and actions with catachresis, a literary gadget where a writer utilizes the closest possible phrase to describe something that has no precise meaning in the English language(Danner, 32-34). Morrison describes this in her foreword, stating “To render enslavement an individual experience, language needs to get out of the way.”(Morrison, XIX) One problem resolved throughout Beloved is the battle of servants to preserve their mankind through their human qualities, such as their face or their teeth. Considering that this battle has no meaning that someone who has never ever been a servant could comprehend, Morrison utilizes catachresis to describe the various aspects of it. In her utilization of the expression “a hot thing”(Morrison, 248), which Morrison draws from Sethe’s understanding of characteristics, she describes the sensation that happens after the loss of a human identity. This usage of catachresis is used to communicate the emotion when a character feels as if either they or their enjoyed ones have actually lost their humankind through the loss of a distinctively human trait.
The specific phrasing of “a hot thing”(Morrison, 248) originates from Sethe’s restricted definition of attributes. When Sethe worked on the Sugary food Home plantation, her understanding of characteristics was limited to the example “a feature of summer is heat. A characteristic is a function. A thing that’s natural to a thing.” (Morrison, 230) Due to Sethe’s illiteracy, she has problem understanding what a characteristic is and she moves on prior to she genuinely understands it. Morrison draws from Sethe’s experience at this minute to find an expression which she feels will best communicate the significance of an indescribable feeling. Morrison picks this experience to discover a phrase for the emotion, due to the fact that this is the moment where it ends up being most clear to Sethe that she is being treated as if she were an animal. For that reason, the phrase “a hot thing”(Morrison, 248) offers the closest definition of an emotion, which takes place when someone experiences dehumanization in Beloved. This is likewise one of the times in the novel that qualities are linked to emotion.
By having Sethe feel she is being dealt with like an animal, Morrison links feeling with attributes in the novel. Sethe fears that she might lose her mankind with the loss of just one particular, a worry shared by other characters. Sethe looks for information of what a particular is, when she overhears her master teaching his nephews to separate her human and animal attributes, stating “I told you to put her human qualities on the left; her animal ones on the right.” (Morrison 228) A particular is more than simply a visible element of an individual’s look as specified by the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford English Dictionary). A characteristic is a function, which is important to the humanity of a person; therefore, a particular is a piece of someone’s identity. This is the origin of the worry of falling into pieces. The dehumanized sensation that Sethe has in this instance is not the only time when it ends up being evident to the characters in Beloved that they are considered animals, but it is the explanation for why some characters feel that they could burglarize pieces at any moment. The characters feel that if they lose their defining particular that keeps them human, they will end up being just a list of animal qualities rather than a human. It becomes clear which features these characters think about to be distinctively human functions.
One characteristic that is considered to be integral to a part of some characters’ humanity is their teeth. Previously in the unique, Beloved loses a tooth and experiences the worry of no longer being human, and ending up being just her animal qualities rather. Morrison composes “Beloved took a look at the tooth and idea, This is it. Next would be her arm, her hand, a toe. Pieces of her would drop perhaps one at a time, possibly at one time.”(Morrison, 157) The decision to list just other body parts as the pieces of Beloved that would fall next is more evidence of a character’s fear that losing her special, human quality would result in her ending up being simply her animal qualities. After she loses her tooth Precious concerns that she has no particular to hold her human identity together, she will lapse into simply her noticeable animalistic functions, which she thinks she will ultimately likewise lose. So, to Beloved, losing a tooth is losing what she thinks keeps her human.
Another time that teeth represent a clearly human function is Sethe’s listing of injustices that took place during her experiences while oppressed. Sethe remembers, to name a few things, that the owner of the plantation” [whitefolk] gave Paul D iron to consume …” (Morrison 222) This quote is considerable since of the phrasing. Instead of referring actually to the bit in Paul D.’s mouth, this quote recommendations the iron bit as iron he was required to consume. This implies that the iron obscured his teeth, stopping him from revealing his most human particular, in Sethe’s eyes. The context of this quote also makes it clear that Sethe is discussing oppressions that robbed people to whom she was close of their humankind.
A 2nd particular, which is represented as a specifying part of a human’s identity in Beloved, is an individual’s face. When the characters in Cherished remember Halle, they normally remember his face. When Sethe is keeping in mind the very same list of unjustified things that happened in slavery, she likewise keeps in mind that “they buttered Halle’s face …” (Morrison, 222) While the master of the plantation did not literally butter Halle’s face, he did rob Halle of his mankind. After seeing Sethe’s milking, Sethe’s husband, Halle went outrageous, being in a butter churn and stirring continuously. Both Paul D. and Sethe remember the buttering of his face, not the loss of his humankind. These characters thought about Halle’s unique particular as being his face, so when Halle lost his sanity, and for that reason his humanity, the characters of Beloved saw his buttered face as no longer being representative of his mankind.
Another time that faces are used to represent a person’s identity is when Sethe’s mother informs Sethe how to identify her, stating “If something takes place to me and you can’t tell me by my face, you can know me by this mark.”(Morrison, 72) While it at first appears that Sethe’s mother is informing Sethe that her mark becomes part of her identity, upon close evaluation it becomes clear that Sethe’s mom is informing her that if she passes away, the ultimate loss of mankind, then she can be identified by a mark of her slavery. Particularly, by using the word “determine”(Morrison, 72) it ends up being clear that Sethe’s mom is talking about how Sethe should understand whether or not her mother is the individual who is dead. Considering that she starts her statement with “if you can’t tell me by my face”(Morrison, 72) it is clear that she considers her face to be an important part of her human identity. This is an instance of a character considering their face to be their defining function and basically stating that if they are dead, their face is no longer recognizable.
Through these examples, it becomes clear that characters are able to determine, either their own distinctly human characteristic, or the unique quality of someone who they liked. However, these characters do not explain the distinctly human quality of those who they do not love. When Sethe thinks about the oppressions that took place throughout slavery, she has the ability to specifically speak about the functions which Halle and Paul D lost. When speaking about her mother, who died prior to Sethe might get to know her well, and Sixo, to whom Sethe was not especially close, she merely notes the things that occurred to them, believing” [whitefolk] crisped Sixo; hanged her own mom.” (Morrison, 222) Sethe has the ability to identify neither her mother nor Sixo’s differentiating characteristic. This conclusion is significant because it discusses the selective usage of the phrase “a hot thing”(Morrison, 248), utilized later on in the book just in recommendations to people whom the storyteller enjoyed and the loss of their human functions.
The phrase “a hot thing”(Morrison, 248) is utilized to represent the feeling the storyteller of chapter twenty two feels, when a man, who the narrator likes, dies. The narrator specifies “I can not discover the guy whose teeth I have actually enjoyed a hot thing”(Morrison, 249). The specific recommendation to this male’s teeth show that the narrator feels they were his distinctly human feature. The next time the phrase is utilized, it is utilized after the storyteller sees “the little hill of dead people.”(Morrison, 249) The factor that “a hot thing”(Morrison, 248) is utilized after this piece is that she has actually seen her guy in this hill of dead people. While it is not clearly stated in the text, she describes her guy as if she makes sure he is dead for the remainder of the chapter.
Another time the phrase “a hot thing”(Morrison, 248) represents an undefined feeling remains in recommendation to the loss of a woman, who the storyteller believes shares her face. When the narrator states “the female with my face is in the sea a hot thing” (Morrison, 249). She is experiencing the inexpressible emotion represented by the phrase for two factors. First of all, because she lost another enjoyed one and is keeping in mind a feature which reminds her of that enjoyed one’s identity as a human. Second of all, she thinks that she and this lady share a face, saying at the start of the chapter “her face is my own”(Morrison, 248) So, not only did the loss of this woman represent the loss of a loved one to the narrator, it also represents the loss of the quality with which the storyteller recognizes her own humanity. The explicit link between characteristics and one facet of this emotion was made when Morrison wrote about Beloved’s worry of falling under pieces after losing her own distinct attribute. It is evident that the narrator of chapter twenty two thinks that she has lost her own distinct feature as well from the sentence “I drop the food and burglarize pieces.”(Morrison, 251) In this sentence, the narrator of this chapter has actually caught becoming just a list of characteristics and does not feel human anymore. This is why the storyteller does not experience “a hot thing” (Morrison, 248) again, till she sees the face, which she believes is her own, come out of the water.
That the narrator does not feel “a hot thing”(Morrison, 248) once again up until she sees the face resurface shows that “a hot thing”(Morrison, 248) is an emotion. This is evident since in Beloved, complicated feelings are attended to as something that is special to human beings. An example of this is when Paul D. says to Sethe that her love is “too thick” which she has “two feet … not 4.”(Morrison, 194) By stating this, Paul D. is telling Sethe that she is not an animal and for that reason ought to be able to like without caring a lot that she hurts her liked ones. Paul D’s discussion with Sethe in this instance is indicative of the belief, held by the characters, that having complex and conflicting feelings is unique to human beings. For that reason, when the narrator of chapter twenty two goes without experiencing the emotion represented by “a hot thing”(Morrison, 248) until she when again sees the face she lost, it is due to the fact that the narrator had actually stopped feeling human. Morrison chooses to utilize this catachresis in chapter twenty 2 to give the reader a much better understanding of what it felt like to be dehumanized everyday, while trying to hold on to humankind. When the significance of the expression “a hot thing”(Morrison, 248) has become clear to the reader, the chapter is especially unpleasant to check out. Morrison’s use of catachresis in this chapter serves to achieve her objective of rendering “enslavement as individual an experience as possible.” (Morrison, XIX)
In conclusion, Morrison utilizes the phrase “a hot thing”(Morrison, 248) as a catachresis for an indescribable emotion that takes place when a character keeps in mind the loss of either their own identity or the identity of an enjoyed one as an outcome of losing a distinct function that represents their mankind. Morrison’s usage of this particular catachresis is an effort to reveal to the reader an emotion that can not be sufficiently specified with the English language. Morrison’s use of catachresis throughout the book is what allows the reader to get insight into the emotions slaves experienced while going through the atrocities of slavery.