“I AM BELOVED and she is mine”: Love and Its Sinister Sister in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

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Morakot Pan-iam

Abstract

Drawing on the critical practice of affect theory, this paper reads Toni Morrison’s Beloved’s nuanced representations of love and selfishness as instances of a racialized affect. While many critics have generally noted Morrison’s dramatization of love, whether it be benevolent or horrific as a proof of freed subjectivity and sustained intersubjectivity, this paper intends to examine love as an affective force in order to understand love and how it operates in places where it has often been seen as more benevolent or emancipatory, where it is and remains, in other words, ostensibly negative and cruel. Arguably, Morrison’s textual representation of love including its sinister sister, selfishness, exemplifies broken and traumatized subjectivity of the racial other during the post-escape life. By racializing love as an affect, the paper particularly reads the human body as space, a space in which the human body and subjectivity are turned against itself by the pernicious force of affection and selfishness.

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