In an effort to expose students to themes that relate to the real world, curriculums are set based on what is applicable and vital information for the student. The world of International Baccalaureate is no exception.
Toni Morrison addresses the relationship trauma survivors have with their pasts. She explores the difficulty of acknowledging suffering while moving forward. Additionally, she shows that people who have not personally experienced trauma can be affected by it. Individuals who are linked to suffering through culture and history feel their ancestors’ pain.”
Senior IB English students have spent the first month of the semester with the novel “Beloved” by Toni Morrison. The novel, published in 1987, is set in post-civil war Cincinnati, Ohio and follows a freed slave, Sethe, her children, and her life in house 124.
What makes this novel unique, according to students like Senior Victoria Bingaman, are the underlying themes of racism and self love and the unique point of view of slavery.
“It’s almost been a breath of fresh air to read a book about slavery from a different perspective,” Bingaman said, “[Beloved] is told solely through the black characters…the reader has an opportunity to hear their side of how slavery impacted them.”
Bingaman said she has had more of an opportunity than some IB English students to learn about the effects and impacts that slavery had on black people’s lives through her own family.
“While I never personally experienced these tragedies, my great grandparents have told me stories, which makes it a deeper content book for me,” Bingaman said.
In terms of modern day issues, Bingaman said that she believes some of the themes that arise in “Beloved” are applicable to modern global issues.
“Of course people aren’t being whipped or killing their children to be free,” Bingaman said, “but the parallel between whites and blacks is an oddly disturbing parallel between the police and blacks.”
Another student who was particularly passionate towards this novel was senior Taylor Manske.
“Beloved is a really shocking book because it goes into detail about the suffering that slaves went through,” Manske said.
Manske feels as though it is valuable that they are reading this book as seniors. “I would not have been able to comprehend that kind of suffering as an underclassmen,” said Manske.
Hauck had a few ideas about social injustices. “I think even the most socially conscious among us struggle to fight injustice. Speaking up or acting against social injustice can be personally and professionally risky, but remaining silent is no better than committing the injustice itself. To fight injustice, we should examine our own biases and actions. We should listen with open hearts when others are hurt by our actions or words. Reflection, listening, and personal change are crucial to making our society better for everyone.
Though racism is the only theme that IB students have had to tackle during their reading of the novel. One of those themes, according to Bingaman, is self love.
“It [Beloved] says love yourself even if others don’t…if you love yourself, you can not only live a happier life, but also inspire the people in the community to love themselves as well,” Bingaman said.
While “Beloved” contains fanciful plot points, such as a ghost haunting a house, Bingaman said that the novel ultimately left her with new philosophies.
“One of the biggest things to be taken away from the novel is being reflective on how we view ourselves as well as the past being something that forms who we are in the future, so be careful with what you think, say and do to yourself and others,” Bingaman said.