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by Toni Morrison

Men and Masculinity Theme

Being a man is anything but simple in Beloved. Our leading men have some complicated relationships with women and with themselves. In order to prove their masculinity, men want to own things. So not owning anything—including themselves—leaves the male slave vulnerable to some pretty serious psych issues. Oh, and to baby girls who've come back from the dead.

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. Why does Paul D feel like he's less of a man compared to Halle and Sixo?
  2. Do the women in Beloved think a man is only manly if he can lay claim to something or someone? What do the women think manliness is all about?
  3. How do men express love for each other in Beloved?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In Beloved, a man is only worth something if he's "claimed" by someone else—a mother, a wife, a child, or a friend. Otherwise, he just won't have a meaningful life.

In Beloved, a real man is someone who resists authority and does his own thing.

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