Heidi McGannon: Beloved
Heidi read Toni Morrison’s Beloved in Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature with Mrs. Linda Vasu, Assistant Head of School and Director of Academic Programs and Professional Development. The novel impressed upon Heidi an appreciation for literary techniques. Heidi’s extensive annotations and enthusiastic class activities are a testament to this novel’s impact on its readers.
“My favorite book I read at Sacred Heart is Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which I read in Mrs. Vasu’s AP English Literature class during senior year. This book was my favorite and among the most memorable of the books I have read at Sacred Heart, primarily due to the way I remember feeling when it came time to write an essay on the novel. I read the prompt and knew it would be challenging to determine what exactly I was going to write about because I instantly became overwhelmed by ideas. There was so much to unpack in the novel: structure, syntax, diction, literary devices, among so many other elements, but one which stuck out to me was Morrison’s discussion of nature. I ultimately decided to write about Morrison’s use of elements of nature as objective correlatives which she imparts to each character, focusing specifically on Denver, a deeply complex character whom Morrison introduces as a kind of transgressor between the natural and supernatural worlds, two deeply meaningful realms in the novel.
One thing I learned from my experience reading this novel is the value of close reading. Though my pages were heavily over-annotated, I feel that this is really a testament to the timeless power of Morrison’s writing. The overwhelming number of words I had circled in my book was not only deeply helpful in my writing on symbols, images, and tropes, but also serve as visual evidence of the impact the novel had on me.
One memory I associate with this novel is the mapping we did as we read, as well as the introduction to the AP English Literature course, which emphasizes the use of nature in literature. In class, we made maps on the whiteboards and created colorful posters to visually outline certain themes and ideas in the novel. My group was focused on nature images, movement, and gender norms in the novel, and it was so inspiring and fun to collaborate with my classmates.”
Featured Image by Avery Kim ’24