Lesson Plan

Toni Morrison's Beloved: For Sixty Million and More

Toni Morrison speaking at The Town Hall, New York City, February 26, 2008
Photo caption

Toni Morrison speaking at The Town Hall, New York City, February 26, 2008.

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” 
― Toni Morrison, Beloved

One of the most compelling novels of the twentieth century, Beloved by Toni Morrison became a popular choice in classrooms following its publication in 1987. The novel follows Sethe, along with her escape to freedom, the murder of her child, and her difficult psychological journey as she copes with her past as a slave. As both an historical account of the experiences of slavery and an insightful novel about a supernatural ghost, this text is ideal for upper level high school students and students in AP programs. The following activities are intended to guide thoughtful inquiry into the novel and its major themes, while also providing teachers and students with creative outlets for making connections with one of the great novels of the twentieth century.

Guiding Questions

How do characters use collective experiences, challenges, and memories to construct a sense of community?

When and why are Sethe's actions justified?

How do the supernatural and achronological elements of the narrative contribute to plot and thematic development?

Learning Objectives

Analyze how characters construct varied forms of community in response to tragedy.

Analyze themes and symbols used throughout the novel to make meaning of the text. 

Evaluate decisions made by characters by considering context, character development, and narrative structure. 

Synthesize interpretations of the text to create an original product that illustrates your understanding of the novel.