Tuesday, March 15, 2022

"We flesh": The zero copula in Baby Suggs's sermon in Toni Morrison's "Beloved"

In her sermon in "the Clearing" near her house, Baby Suggs in Toni Morrison's "Beloved" celebrates the bodies of the members of her community: "[...] in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass." "We flesh" is a zero copula, a feature of African American Vernacular English that connects a subject and a predicate without a verb. This morning, when my students and I "fleshed out" the construction, we not only considered verbs that could be put between the two ("are" or "become") but also interpreted "flesh" as a verb, with the ghost Beloved "fleshing herself out" when she assumes bodily form. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 15 March 2022)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Beloved also "fleshes up" by putting on weight...grows a sizeable stomach...sleeps, eats and raises hell.Referred to as 'flesh' by Ella. " I'm talking about flesh".pg 301. As Beloved increases in size, Sethe diminishes...fleshes down ?