Sethe’s scar on her back is an emblem and reminder of the physical cruelty of slavery. But the scar eerily resembles a beautiful tree. This can be seen as symbolizing the deceitfully pleasant and beautiful appearances of picturesque plantations like Sweet Home, which were rooted in ugly violence. But, also, it can serve as an example of a strange beauty coming from a horrible experience. In this way, the scar can even become an analogue for Morrison’s novel itself, an artistic creation arising out of the tragedy of slavery, whose beautiful writing asks the reader to confront the relationship between beauty and human suffering.
Sethe’s Scar Symbol Timeline in Beloved
The timeline below shows where the symbol Sethe’s Scar appears in Beloved. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Part 1, Chapter 2
Part 1, Chapter 8