Tackling the task of reading Toni Morrison's "Beloved" can be quite daunting. A thick, thoughtful, and often circular novel on the trials of new life after slavery, Morrison's book is a hefty and challenging read for even the adept. It's hard enough to simply grasp the twisting story of this book, let alone to understand the underlying themes and insights Morrison hides between her powerful descriptions. In standing strong against the torrent of information and confusing literature, one can find a very powerful and emotional message about the lasting legacy and shackling destructiveness of slavery and its wide reaches into the time after emancipation. As one reads through the story of Sethe and her family, Morrison's very powerful thoughts on the period after slavery are revealed. In Beloved, Toni Morrison uses the recounting of Seethe's experience in being milked and Paul D's description of his experience with the bit to convey a message of the horrible unjustifiability of slavery.
Morrison uses the experiences, and the reluctance to recount them, of Sethe and Paul D to aptly display the unjustifiability of slavery. She goes further than that though, and tries to display some of the more terrible and detailed reasons why the institution of slavery should have been wholly unsupportable. One of the more powerful ideas she displays in the beginning of her book is the idea of the degradation of slaves to a status of beast, as to justify their existence as a slave. In the passage where Sethe speaks about her experience being milked by the schoolteacher's nephews, one can clearly see this element of degradation. Sethe was basically reduced to that of a cow by the two young boys. Beyond that, Sethe was then whipped, as if it was her fault and her personal state that produced the situation. The reader should notice how absolutely disgusted with her situation Sethe seems to be, as it shows that this act of stealing her milk was more defiling, unnecessary and unusual than the act of rape.