Symbolism of Milk Box in Beloved

Mother’s milk symbolizes life and love. Sethe herself was deprived of her mother’s milk, as she was always working in the plantation fields, and was fed by a wet nurse. Sethe worries about giving enough milk to her children Sadly, her breast milk gets “stolen” by the schoolteacher’s nephews. This incident haunts and terrorizes Sethe, firstly because she has been sexually assaulted and secondly because she feels she has failed as a mother. Mother’s milk occupies a very significant role in Sethe’s life. It is both a symbol of defilement, as well as her love for her children. When Halle witnesses the brutality unleashed on Sethe, he goes insane, rubbing butter all over his face. Butter is also a form of milk.

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