joi, 24 decembrie 2009

Toni Morrison – Beloved [ Study Guide ]

Toni Morrison – Beloved

Study Guide

1. Toni Morrison [ 1931 – ……. ] : Biography

2. Beloved – Short Summary

3. Beloved [ about the novel ]

4. Beloved – Characters’ List

5. Beloved – Chapters’ Summaries and Analyses

A. Summary and Analysis of Part 1, Chapters 1-4.

B. Summary and Analysis of Part 1, Chapters 5-8.

C. Summary and Analysis of Part 1, Chapters 9-12.

D. Summary and Analysis of Part 1, Chapters 13-16.

E. Summary and Analysis of Part 1, Chapters 17-18.

F. Summary and Analysis of Part 2, Chapters 19-22.

G. Summary and Analysis of Part 2, Chapters 23-25.

H. Summary and Analysis of Part 3, Chapters 26-28.

6. Beloved – Quiz

7. Beloved – Quiz Answers

I. Toni Morrison : Biography [ 1931 - ]

Chloe Anthony Wofford, later known as Toni Morrison, was born in Lorain, Ohio, in 1931. She was the daughter of a shipyard welder and a religious woman who sang in the church choir. Her parents had moved to Ohio from the South, hoping to raise their children in an environment more friendly to blacks. Despite the move to the North, the Wofford household was steeped in the oral traditions of Southern African American communities. The songs and stories of Chloe Wofford's childhood undoubtedly influenced her later work; indeed, Toni Morrison's oeuvre draws heavily upon the oral art forms of African Americans. Although Toni Morrison's writing is not autobiographical, she fondly alludes to her past, stating, "I am from the Midwest so I have a special affection for it. My beginnings are always there.... No matter what I write, I begin there.... It's the matrix for me.... Ohio also offers an escape from stereotyped black settings. It is neither plantation nor ghetto."
She was an extremely gifted student, learning to read at an early age and doing well at her studies at an integrated school. Her parents' desire to protect their child from the racist environment of the South succeeded in many respects: racial prejudice was less of a problem in Lorain, Ohio than it would have been in the South, and Chloe Wofford played with a racially diverse group of friends when she was young. Inevitably, however, she began to experience racial discrimination as she and her peers grew older. She graduated with honors in 1949 and went to Howard University in Washington D.C. At Howard, she majored in English and minored in classics, and was actively involved in theater arts through the Howard University Players. She graduated from Howard in 1953 with a B.A. in English and a new name: Toni Wofford (Toni being a shortened version of her middle name). She went on to receive her M.A. in English from Cornell in 1955.
After a teaching stint at Texas Southern University, she returned to Howard University and met Harold Morrison. They married, and before their divorce in 1964 Toni and Harold Morrison had two sons. It was also during this time that she wrote the short story that would become the basis for her first novel, The Bluest Eye.
In 1964, she took a job in Syracuse, New York as an associate editor at Random House. She worked as an editor, raised her sons as a single mom, and continued to write fiction. In 1967 she received a promotion to senior editor and a much-desired transfer to New York City. The Bluest Eye was published in 1970. The story of a young girl who loses her mind, the novel was well-received by critics but failed commercially. Between 1971 and 1972 Morrison worked as a professor of English for the State University of New York at Purchase while holding her job at Random House and working on Sula, a novel about a defiant woman and relations between black females. Sula was published in 1973.
The years 1976 and 1977 saw Morrison working as a visiting lecturer at Yale and working on her next novel, Song of Solomon. This next novel dealt more fully with black male characters. As with Sula, Morrison wrote the novel while holding a teaching position, continuing her work as an editor for Random House, and raising her two sons. Song of Solomon was published in 1977 and enjoyed both commercial and critical success. In 1981, Morrison published Tar Baby, a novel focusing on a stormy relationship between a man and a woman. In 1983 she left Random House. The next year she took a position at the State University of New York in Albany.
Beloved, the book many consider to be Morrison's masterpiece, was published in 1987. Mythic in scope, Beloved tells the story of an emancipated slave woman named Sethe who is haunted by the ghost of the daughter she killed. The novel is an ambitious attempt to grapple with slavery and the tenacity of its legacy. Dedicated to the tens of millions of slaves who died in the trans-Atlantic journey, Beloved could be called a foundation story (like Genesis or Exodus) for black America. It became a best seller and received a Pulitzer prize.
In 1987 Toni Morrison became the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Council of Humanities at Princeton University. She is the first African American female writer to hold a named chair at a university in the Ivy League. She published Jazz in 1992, along with a non-fiction book entitled Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. The next year she became the eighth woman and the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. 1998 saw the publication of her seventh novel, Paradise.
One of the most critically acclaimed living writers, Morrison has been a major architect in creating a literary language for Afro-Americans. Her use of shifting perspective, fragmentary narrative, and a narrative voice extremely close to the consciousness of her characters reveals the influence of writers like Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner: two writers that Morrison, not coincidentally, studied extensively while a college student. All of her work also shows the influence of African-American folklore, songs, and women's gossip. In her attempts to map these oral art forms onto literary modes of representation, Morrison has created a body of work informed by a distinctly black sensibility while drawing a reading audience from across racial boundaries.

II. Toni Morrison – Beloved : Short Summary

In 1873, Sethe and her daughter Denver live in 124, a house in a rural area close to Cincinatti. They are ostracized from the community for Sethe's past and her pride. Eighteen years have passed since she escaped from slavery at a farm called Sweet Home. Sweet Home was run by a cruel man known as schoolteacher, who allowed his nephews to brutalize Sethe while he took notes for his scientific studies of blacks. Sethe fled, although she was pregnant, delivering the child along the way with help from a white woman named Amy. Sethe's husband, who was supposed to accompany her, disappeared. After her escape to Cincinatti with her four children, Sethe enjoyed only twenty-eight days of freedom before she was tracked down by her old master. Rather than allow her children to be returned to slavery, she attempted to kill all of them, succeeding only in killing the baby girl. Rejected then by her master, who saw she was no longer fit to serve, Sethe was also saved from hanging and was released to raise her remaining three children at 124. The ghost of the dead baby began to haunt the house. The two sons, Howard and Buglar, left after having particularly frightening encounters with the ghost. The grandmother, Baby Suggs, died a broken woman. Baby Suggs had been a great positive force in Cincinatti's black community, regarded by many as an inspiring holy woman. After what happened to Sethe, she gave up her preaching and retired to bed, asking only for scraps of color. Years after her death, Denver and Sethe continue to live in the house alone. Sethe works as a cook, and Denver spends her days alone. Denver is terribly lonely but is also afraid to leave the yard‹even though she is eighteen years old.

III. Toni Morrison – Beloved [ about the novel ]

Beloved is Toni Morrison's fifth novel. Published in 1987 as Morrison was enjoying increasing popularity and success, Beloved became a best seller and received the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Its reception by critics was overwhelming, and the book is widely considered Morrison's greatest novel to date.
Mythic in scope, Beloved is an attempt to grapple with the legacy of slavery. Morrison based her novel on a real-life incident, in which an escaped slave woman who faced recapture killed her children rather than allow them to be taken back into slavery. In the novel, the protagonist's near-recapture follows the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, part of the Compromise of 1850, which stated that escaped slaves, as property, could be tracked down across state lines and retrieved by their old masters.
In Beloved, Morrison explores themes of love, family, and self-possession in a world where slavery has only recently become a thing of the past. Beloved is the ghost of Sethe's murdered child, returned for unclear reasons, embodied as a full-grown woman at the age that the baby would have been had it lived. Part history, part ghost story, part historical fiction, the novel also seek to understand the impact of slavery, both on the psychology of individuals and on the larger patterns of culture and history. Morrison was drawn to the historical account, which brought up questions of what it meant to love and to be a mother in a place and time where life was often devalued. The novel powerfully portrays the meanings of what it means to be owned by another and the difficulty of owning oneself.
Beloved also presents a powerful account of the foundation of black America. The memories of the characters?even the strange, supernatural race-memory of Beloved?extend back no farther than the beginnings of American slavery. The institution of slavery destroyed much of the heritage of the Africans brought to the Americas; the novel partially recounts the creation of a new people and culture, a people displaced and forced to forge a new identity in the face of brutality and dehumanization. Fragmentary in structure and written with great psychological intimacy, the book also continues with Morrison's narrative experiments that began with The Bluest Eye and have continued throughout her career. In 1998 it was adapted for a film starring Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey. The film met mixed critical response and was a box office failure, a testament, at least, to the uniquely literary qualities of the novel.

IV. Toni Morrison – Beloved : Characters’ List

1. Sethe

Born on a distant plantation that she barely remembers, Sethe is the child of an African-born slave woman whose name she never knew. As a young teenager she was brought to Sweet Home, where she took a man named Halle Suggs for her husband. She had four children, pregnant with the fourth when she fled Sweet Home on foot and alone. When schoolteacher, the brutal master at Sweet Home, tracked her down, Sethe attempted to kill her children rather than see them returned to slavery. Sethe has a troubled relationship with her own past, often not willing to speak about it but obsessively reliving it in her own head. She has a mass of scars on her back that resemble a tree.

2. Beloved

Beloved is the ghost of Sethe's third child, murdered to protect her from schoolteacher. Her real name is never known. She is the embodiment not only of the baby's ghost but also the legacy of slavery. She represents the power of the past to intrude into the present.

3. Paul D

Paul D was one of the Sweet Home men. He has also suffered horribly, and has reacted by shutting away any deep feelings. He shows up at 124 and tries to make a life with Sethe. He is powerless against Beloved, who seduces him as a way of controlling him and dividing him from her mother. After nearly twenty years of freedom, he is still unsure of the source of his manhood and his humanity.

4. Denver

Sethe's daughter. She is the grown up daughter of Sethe who was born during Sethe's flight to the North. Denver is eighteen years old and terribly lonely. She has not left the yard of 124 by herself for twelve years. She has a possessive need for Beloved, and initially will do anything to please her. But she is also a very dynamic character; by the end of the novel, she is transformed into a strong and independent young woman with a new understanding of her mother.

5. Baby Suggs

Halle Suggs mother and Sethe's mother-in-law. Halle bought her freedom, which she accepted because she saw how much it meant to him. She did not expect how much it would mean to her, feeling while still a slave that she was too old to enjoy freedom anyway. But freedom transformed Baby Suggs, giving her a new understanding of what it meant to be alive and transforming her into a kind of holy woman for Cincinatti's black community. Sethe's tragedy, however, broke Baby Suggs' spirit, and she spent her last days bed-ridden and somber.

6. Halle Suggs

Halle Suggs was Sethe's husband and the father of all of her children. Halle vanished at the time when he was supposed to flee to the North with Sethe; later, it is discovered that he witnessed Sethe's brutalization at the hands of schoolteacher and his nephews. When Paul D last saw Halle, he had gone insane.

7. Schoolteacher

Mr. Garner's brother-in-law. Schoolteacher was a cruel and sadistic master, interested in ways to break the wills of his slaves. He conducted a pseudo-scientific study of the slaves, treating them in his study the way a biologist treats lab animals. His nephews held Sethe down and stole her milk while schoolteacher took notes. When it was discovered that Sethe told Mrs. Garner what they had done, schoolteacher had one of his nephews whip Sethe, giving her the distinctive scars on her back.

8. Amy Denver

A former indentured servant, Amy helped Sethe to escape to the North, saving Sethe's life and helping to deliver her baby. Amy was trying to get to Boston so she could buy carmine colored velvet. Sethe's daughter Denver is named after her.

9. Howard and Buglar

Sethe's sons and her two older children, she tried and failed to kill them when schoolteacher came. The two boys fled years ago after particularly frightening encounters with the ghost. Sethe has recurring dreams of her boys walking away from her, unable to hear her as she calls for them to come back.

10. Mr. Garner

The old master of Sweet Home, Mr. Garner was generous by the standards of slave owners, and insisted that his slaves were the only male slaves in Kentucky who were real men. His "enlightened" slavery, however, proves to be a sham after his death and was full of contradictions and hypocrisy even in his life.

11. Mrs. Garner

Mr. Garner's sickly wife. She brought schoolteacher to Sweet Home after Mr. Garner's death. She spent the last months of her life bed-ridden and very ill.

12. Sixo

One of the slaves at Sweet Home, Sixo was one of the planners behind their flight to the North. He regularly visited a woman who lived thirty miles away, dubbed the Thirty-Mile woman. He was close to Paul D during the time of Sweet Home, but was killed during their escape attempt.

13. Paul A, Paul F

The brothers of Paul D. All three brothers were at Sweet Home for most of their lives, until Paul F was sold and Paul A died during the escape.

14. Ella

A woman who was an agent on the Underground Railroad. She took Sethe on the final leg of her flight to the North. When Ella was a girl, she was shared by a white man and his son. After Sethe killed her child, Ella becomes one of her harshest critics. Later, she softens her opinion, and organizes the woman to go and exorcise Beloved from 124.

15. Stamp Paid

Born with the name of Joshua, Stamp Paid changed his name after his wife was taken to the bed of their master's owner. Stamp felt he had paid all of life's debts in that year. Stamp worked as an agent for the Underground Railroad for many years. When schoolteacher came for Sethe, it was Stamp who saved Denver's life. He is a friend to the family and also to Paul D.

16. Lady Jones

Lady Jones teaches the black children of Cincinatti how to read and write. She is mixed-race, with yellow hair that she despises. She was once Denver's teacher. When Denver flees 124 looking for help, she turns to Lady Jones.

17. Nan

Nan was the one-armed woman who nursed children back at the plantation where Sethe was born. Sethe has more memories of Nan than of her own mother.

18. Janey

Servant to the Bodwins. She spreads the story of Beloved's return through the black community. She was working for the Bodwins when Baby Suggs first arrived, and she is still working for them when Denver is looking for work decades later.

19. Edward Bodwin and Miss Bodwin

Brother and sister, they are former abolitionists and try to be helpful to the black community. They own 124, which they allowed Baby Suggs and her family to use. Edward Bodwin witnesses the exorcism of Beloved.

V. Toni Morrison – Beloved : Chapters’ Summaries and Analyses

1. Summary and Analysis of Part 1, Chapters 1-4

Part 1, Chapter 1


The year is 1873, and Sethe, a former slave, lives with her daughter Denver in "124," a house in rural Ohio. The house is haunted by the ghost of one of Sethe's children. Denver is the only living child who is still with Sethe; the two boys, Buglar and Howard, had fled by age 13 after having particularly frightening encounters with the ghost. Sethe's memories of her sons are fading fast. Baby Suggs, Denver's paternal grandmother, died shortly after the boys left. Baby Suggs was a weathered woman, unsurprised by the fleeing of the boys, insisting only that Sethe and Denver should bring bits of color into the house, especially during the gray Ohio winters. Baby Suggs was unmoved by the disappearance of the two boys: of her eight children, all disappeared. She could barely remember her first-born.
The spirit of the dead baby is persistent and often malicious (years ago, the baby crippled the family dog). Sethe paid for the child's tombstone by having sex with the mason, ten minutes for seven letters, which was enough for the word "Beloved." The way the child died is hinted at, as we are told that Sethe can remember the feeling of the baby's blood.
Eighteen years have passed since Sethe escaped from Sweet Home, the farm where she was a slave. Sweet Home was originally run by Mr. Garner, but after he died and Mrs. Garner became ill, a cruel man called schoolteacher came to run the farm. The actions of schoolteacher were the catalyst for Sethe's flight.
Today, Paul D, the last of the Sweet Home men, turns up on Sethe's doorstep. He was one of five men: Paul D Garner, Paul F Garner, Paul A Garner, Halle Suggs, and Sixo. All the men, back in those days, were in their twenties. Back at Sweet Home, Sethe was originally bought to replace Baby Suggs, Halle's mother. Halle had bought Baby Suggs' freedom with money earned by hiring himself out every Sunday for five years. Sethe arrived at Sweet Home, a young woman with "iron eyes and a backbone to match." The men waited a year while Sethe chose which one of them she would have for her partner. Desperate for women, the men dreamed of Sethe and had sex with calves while they waited. She finally chose Halle, sewing herself a dress so that their legally and religiously unsanctified marriage would have some feeling of celebration to it.
Sethe invites Paul D into the house. Paul D immediately encounters the ghost, in the form of a pool of red light. Sethe explains that the mysterious happenings in the house are the doing of her dead baby's ghost. In the world of the living, Denver receives Paul D with apprehension, feeling left out of the rapport and the shared history between her mother and this new male guest. Denver breaks down and says that she can't stand living at 124 anymore: no one comes by, not only because of the haunted house, according to Denver, but because of Sethe. Paul D's presence somehow allows this breakdown: he is described as the kind of man in the presence of whom woman feel comfortable crying. When Paul D asks why they don't leave, Sethe is adamant: she will not run from anything ever again.
She tells Paul D about the tree on her back, a cluster of scars in the shape of a chokecherry tree. Right before she fled from Sweet Home, Sethe sent her two sons and her daughter up to Cincinatti, where they were left with Baby Suggs. Sethe was pregnant with Denver, but the third child, the girl, still needed Sethe's milk. Sethe tells Paul D that schoolteacher's nephews took her milk, and when she told Mrs. Garner about it schoolteacher found out and responded by having one of the boys whip her. The scars are still there.
Paul D touches Sethe's breasts and the ghost becomes violent, shaking the entire house. Paul D tries to fight back, shouting loudly and smashing up parts of the house in the process. The rumbling stops. The ghost's presence can no longer be felt, and Denver resents Paul D for having gotten rid of it; the ghost was the only other company Denver had.


Beloved's narrative moves quickly between past and present, frequently shifting forward and back in time and through the memories of characters. This narrative technique suggests the powerful continuity between the past and the present; although Sethe might like to forget her past, its influence (as reflected directly by the direction of the narrative and metaphorically by the ghost) constantly intrudes into the present. The power of this past is embodied in the ghost of Sethe's baby. The dead child will not leave the family alone, and it's absence/presence is inscribed even into the number of the house: "124" draws attention to the missing "3," the third child, the dead daughter that now haunts their home.
The horrifying effects of slavery on the family unit are clear. Baby Suggs seems scarcely able to feel love for her relations, numb from a lifetime of loved ones being taken from her. The men, including Paul D, are wanderers, drifting from place to place. Now, Sethe is in the first generation of blacks that can bear children without those children being torn away from her. But Sethe's family life is still haunted by the dead child and the memories of slavery.
Denver is a lonely and troubled girl, friendless and needing company but also wary of the male intruder from Sethe's past. Sethe is constantly described as having eyes of iron, and her refusal to run anymore shows some of her determination-as does the story of her successful escape from slavery while pregnant. Her devotion to her children is also clear: in telling the story of her tree-scar to Paul D, she emphasizes the theft of her milk above all other parts of the story. The passage possibly suggests that she was also raped, but the loss of her milk, to this day, is the part of the story that Sethe keeps repeating.
The tree on Sethe's back suggests the need to aestheticize painful experiences. Real trees are referred to at several points, establishing a motif of trees as a source of protection, comfort, and pleasure-when Sethe remembers Sweet Home, she always thinks of the beautiful trees. Through language and imagery, the scars from Sethe's pain and humiliation become a tree in bloom, a source of life and shelter. Using language to transform a scar into a tree parallels part of the work done by the novel: it is an attempt to make sense of a painful legacy through the power of words and of art.

Part One, Chapter 2


Sethe and Paul D have sex, which is disappointing for both of them. Paul D has longed for Sethe for thirty years, and the experience has been quick and unexciting. Paul D, looking at Sethe, dislikes the way her breasts lay flat on her and is repulsed by the clump of scars on her back, refusing now to accept the comparison between the scars and a tree. He remembers the trees of Sweet Home and the shelter they once provided him; under a special tree he called Brother, he rested in the shade with his friend Sixo, one of the slaves at Sweet Home. On a few of the rare free days the men had, Sixo used to take long treks to see a woman thirty miles away. Consequently he was the one Sweet Home man not sick with longing for Sethe
The sex is equally disappointing for Sethe. She resents his earlier exhortation to her to leave the house; it's the first and only home that has been her own. The slaves had to become used to not being able to lay claim to things: although Sethe was lucky enough to be married for six years to one man who fathered all of her children, Baby Suggs eight children had six fathers. Baby Suggs lost all of her children while they were young, except for Halle-and Halle, too, she eventually lost. Being with Paul D reminds Sethe of the way Halle used to treat her-more like a brother, rather than one who could lay claim to her.
When Halle and Sethe decided to get married, Sethe told Mrs. Garner of their decision, who reacted pleasantly (but rather unpassionately) to the idea. When Sethe asked if there would be a wedding, Mrs. Garner laughed and called her sweet. Sethe wanted to have something, so she secretly made a dress. She was fourteen years old.
The first time Halle and Sethe made love, it was in the cornfield. Although the two thought they were hidden, from the rustling in the field all of the Sweet Home men knew that Halle had been chosen. They watched mournfully, and then cooked some of the corn from the field and ate it. The corn, at least, is a simple pleasure that no one takes from them.


History is what has brought Sethe and Halle together, and together in bed, they can think nothing of the future: they return obsessively and repeatedly to memories of their past, shared and otherwise. The sex in the present has been disappointing, not nearly as sensual as Paul D's memory of the corn he ate on the first day Halle and Sethe made love. This preoccupation with the past and the disappointing sex in the present emphasizes the power of the past, its constant intrusion into the present, its burden on the characters, its ability to shape/undermine characters perceptions of present events. When Paul D and Sethe have sex, they have thirty years of Paul D's fantasies of her as a burden; no sex can live up to that kind of pressure.
Ownership is an important theme throughout the book: for the ex-slaves, to feel that something belongs to them, whether a place or a person, is a loaded issue. Sethe stays in the house partly because she feels a bond to the place: it is her own, ghost and all, even if the deed to the property is not officially hers. All who visit know it is her home, and she cannot forget that she was never able to own anything as a slave. Even more significant is the idea of "laying claim" to another person. Sethe remembers that Halle treated her in an almost brotherly way, and not as a person who laid claim. But part of love is being able to make demands, have expectations, and in some respects lay claim to the other. Sethe and Halle were unable to lay claim to each other because even their own lives were not their property. Even though the Garners were generous masters (by the standards of slave-holders), the lives of the slaves were not their own, and the nature of slavery meant that a change of hands could bring a terrible change of fortune. Part of slavery's legacy is this inability to lay claim: one cannot say "my mother," "my husband," "my daughter" with a feeling of security, because they cannot belong to you if they are the property of another. The kind of "ownership" that comes along with love and familial bonds is ruptured by the unnatural ownership of slavery.

Part One, Chapter 3


Denver has a secret place where she spends time alone, in the woods behind 124. There is a place where five boxwood bushes planted in a circle have grown together into a canopy, forming a round and empty room with green leaves and branches for walls. She spends hours at a time there, paradoxically isolating herself in the room to seek relief from her loneliness.
Years ago, after a session in her secret place, Denver came home and looked in through a window to see her mother kneeling in prayer. A white dress was kneeling next to her mother and had its empty sleeve around Sethe's waist. The tenderness of the phantom's gesture reminded Denver of her own birth.
Sethe has only vague memories of her own birthplace somewhere far from Sweet Home. She was not allowed to be with her own mother. Just a child, she helped tend the babies and watched rows and rows of black women, all of whom she called Ma'am, but one of whom was "her own." Sethe learned to recognize her mother, although they were never allowed to be together, because her mother alone wore a cloth hat.
When Sethe herself was a mother, fleeing from Sweet Home and pregnant with Denver, she received unexpected aid from a poor white girl named Amy. Amy, a recently released indentured servant, saved her life. Amy and Sethe ran into each other by chance: the white girl was trying to walk to Boston because she was obsessed with the idea of finding some carmine-colored velvet. Sethe, with a baby about to come, a torn-up back, and destroyed swollen feet, was barely able to crawl. Amy led her to a lean-to and massaged her damaged feet, telling Sethe to endure the pain because "Anything dead coming back to life hurts."
When Denver told Sethe about the phantom dress, Sethe talked to her about memory: even after a thing is destroyed, its presence remains, not only in minds but somehow in the real world. She told Denver about schoolteacher, who was Mr. Garner's brother-in-law. He came with his two nephews and always took notes while observing the men and Sethe, studying them pseudo-scientifically. Sethe explained some of this to Denver and then they both decided that, judging from the apparition of the dress, the baby ghost had plans.
After his failed escape from Sweet Home, Paul D spent time in a prison in Georgia, working in a quarry by day and going crazy in a box in the ground at night. He sings songs, some of which he learned in Georgia, while he works. His heart is described as being closed up, and Sethe's presence threatens to open it. Paul D decides to stay for a while-although he has a pattern of settling in and wandering out soon afterward-and his decision makes Sethe hopeful.
Sethe tells him some of the story of when schoolteacher found her, after she had reached Cincinatti. Somehow she managed to avoid being taken back to Sweet Home, but she did spend some time in prison. Paul D wants to know more, but speaking about jail reminds him of his own experience in Georgia. He drops the subject. Sethe is hopeful about a future with Paul D, but her the future is still primarily "a matter of keeping the past at bay." Her mission is still to protect Denver from this past.


Denver's time in the green room reveals her painful loneliness, and is yet another example in the book (along with Paul D's old tree, which he named "Brother") of trees providing comfort to human beings. The apparition of the ghost foreshadowed the form the returned baby will take: not a child's form, but a full-grown woman, the age that the baby would be if it had lived. This form was consistent with Sethe's ideas about the past. Although the baby died, it has continued to grow and change as if it had lived, and its presence is totally real. Sethe's idea of the past comes from her own painful relationship with the legacy of slavery; she is still convinced that the past could hurt Denver, and tells no stories to her unless Denver prods. Denver, on the other hand, has an insatiable curiosity about the story of her birth, and feels the need to connect to the past that her mother is so silent about.
Amy's rescue of Sethe is a portrait of a possible world, one of female companionship and community in addition to one of black-white cooperation. Significantly, Sethe expected that the approaching stranger would be a white boy, in which case Sethe felt she would have been done for; instead it was Amy, who was a former indentured servant. Indentured servants were only one step above slaves, living as the near-property of wealthy whites, although each servant's time of servitude was finite and set. Although Amy sometimes talked to Sethe in a condescending or rough way, Amy did not turn Sethe in, and in fact saved her life. Her quest for carmine (red) velvet is reminiscent of Baby Suggs desire for colored cloth. Small pleasures, such as the simple pleasure of looking at a colored piece of fabric, were for both Amy and Baby Suggs a deep relief after a life of hardship.
The problem of the past exerts a powerful influence on the way Sethe and Paul D interact: he wants to talk about her time in jail, but it reminds of his own past, which hurts so much that he drops the subject. His heart, here and repeatedly throughout the novel, is described as being closed or locked away in a container. By closing himself off, Paul D has protected himself and survived. His own past is so painful that often he relates to it indirectly, through his songs-although he knows not to sing any of the Sweet Home songs in Sethe's presence.

Part One, Chapter 4


After Paul D has stayed at 124 for a few days, Denver asks him how long he plans to "hang around." The question hurts Paul D's feelings, and he never really answers it. Sethe chastises her daughter strongly and then apologizes for her, but she refuses to hear any of Paul D's criticism of Denver. Paul D sees from Sethe's behavior that she loves her daughter fiercely, and he remarks to himself that it's dangerous for a former slave to love anything so much-love must be rationed, because what and whom one loves can be taken away at any time.
Paul D, in part to make peace with Denver, brings the two women to the carnival, which sets aside Thursdays for black people. The other blacks, who usually shun Denver and Sethe, treat them with some gentleness when they are with Paul D. Paul D has the best time of anyone, buying gifts for the women and bending over backwards to make sure they enjoy themselves. On the way to and from the carnival, Sethe sees that their three shadows look like they are holding hands.


Denver is lonely, yet she still resents Paul D's presence. She resents his shared past with her mother; any past history not connected to her birth is somehow threatening to her.
At the carnival, we see the extent of isolation usually experienced by Denver and Sethe. The townspeople fear the haunted house, and they have not forgotten the circumstances of the child's death. But Paul D gives Sethe and Denver a link to the rest of the black community. In the figures of the shadows holding hands, Sethe sees a symbol of a future the three of them could have together. For once, Sethe is thinking of the future, and the shadows stand as mirror opposites of the ghost baby: rather than phantoms of the past, they are auguries of the future. These hopes will be challenged by the arrival of Beloved in the next chapter.

2. Summary and Analysis of Part 1, Chapters 5-8

Part One, Chapter 5


A woman, the narrator tells us, walks out of the water, and, exhausted, she rests all day and all night by a mulberry tree. The air hurts her lungs. Finally, she manages to get up and slowly walk to the yard of 124, where she sits on a tree stump. Her skin is new, like a baby's.
Coming home from the carnival, Sethe, Paul D, and Denver find the girl. On seeing her, Sethe has a powerful urge to urinate, and runs off. She does not make it to the outhouse and voids an unbelievable amount of water-as much as when she lost her water before Denver's birth.
The girl's name is Beloved, and she does not seem to have a last name. Paul D wants to ask more questions but knows that a black woman on her own must be running from something bad, so he doesn't press the issue. Beloved is feeble and asks for water, of which she drinks an incredible amount. She sleeps for four days, a possessive Denver tending to her. When she gets well enough to eat, all she asks for are sweets. She moves like an old woman, supporting herself and taking tiny steps.
Paul D is suspicious: although Beloved acts weak, he has seen her pick up the rocker with one hand. He shares these fears with Sethe, who does not believe him. When Paul D asks Denver, who was there, to confirm his story, she denies it.


Beloved is the dead baby returned, in human flesh, at the age she would have been had she lived. The text does not yet say this explicitly, but there are a number of indicators:
--her name
--her baby-like characteristics: skin, craving for sweets, and her weak command of language
--her strange first appearance as she emerges from the water, like she is coming out of the waters out the womb
--Sethe's need to lose water on seeing Beloved (as if Sethe were giving birth)
--the disappearance of Here Boy (the dog that never enters the house after having been injured by the baby ghost)
Denver seems to have some early instinctual grasp of the situation, because when Sethe asks where Here Boy has gone to, Denver answers that he has disappeared for good. Paul D is suspicious, but has no idea what has happened-he still knows nothing about the conditions of the baby's death. Sethe has no idea of Beloved's identity, but she decides to let the girl stay at 124 indefinitely.
Denver is painfully lonely, and tends to Beloved possessively-she finally has a new friend. Her refusal to confirm the truth of Paul D's story shows her need to protect Beloved at the cost of the truth, and her lie chills her relationship with Paul D considerably.
The ghost, at this point, seems benign enough, but her power is hinted at by Paul D's story. Although she is clearly frail, her ability to perform acts of strength suggests that she is far from helpless.

Part One, Chapter 6


Beloved is obsessed with Sethe, watching her every move, following her around the house. Beloved is also obsessed with hearing stories about the past. Sethe tells her stories that she seldom shares. Beloved also seems to know, before the stories are told, about events and things that she could not possibly know about.
Back at Sweet Home, Sethe got a pair of crystal earrings from Mrs. Garner, who gave them to Sethe perhaps out of guilt that Sethe clearly wanted a real wedding and wasn't going to get one. Sethe took to stealing scraps of fabric, from which she sewed an ugly and bizarre-looking dress.
Beloved also asks Sethe about her mother, and if her mother ever fixed her hair. The answer is No: most nights, Sethe's mother did not even sleep in the same cabin as Sethe. She worked from before dawn until late at night in the rice paddies, and on Sundays she slept all day. But Sethe does remember that her mother showed her a mark, like the mark cattle get from a brand. Her mother told her that if something happened to her, and Sethe couldn't tell her identity from her face, she would know by the mark. All of the other slaves with that mark were dead. Later on, Sethe's mother was hanged, but the body was so mutilated that she could not make out the mark anyway.
Retelling this story brings memories that Sethe had buried deep down: she remembers suddenly that when she was little she spoke a different language, with Nan, the one-armed slave woman who tended the children, and with her own mother. She cannot remember the language anymore, and realizes that it might have something to do with the vagueness of her memories of the world before Sweet Home. She also remembers Nan telling her that Sethe was the only baby her mother kept-her father was a black man, and Sethe inherited his name. The other babies were from when Sethe's mother was raped by white men, and she threw them all away.
Denver wonders why Beloved seems to know what questions to ask about Sethe's past.


Beloved needs Sethe with a frightening intensity. She does not see Sethe as separate from herself-like the infant in psychological/psychoanalytical theories, she has not conceived of an identity separate from her mother's. Her need to know stories of Sethe's past is more inclusive than Denver's. While Denver want to know only stories that concern herself, Beloved wants to know everything about Sethe-in part, perhaps, because for Beloved, Sethe is part of her.
Her name reflects the confusion. Sethe named Beloved after the first two words said at the funeral-Dearly Beloved-which she mistook as referring to the dead. "Dearly Beloved," however, actually refers to the people at the funeral. Sethe names Beloved after herself, revealing that she, too, is confused about where her own identity ends and her children's identity begins.
Sethe's links to her own mother are painful. Although her mother did not get to raise her, conditions led both of them to the act of infanticide. Sethe's name is a trace of heritage left to her, but although she bears her father's name she does not know the name of her own mother, and she has forgotten the language of her childhood. Nan and her mother were of the generation brought over on a slave ship, and the violence of that act has cut off Sethe's heritage, leaving her with no legacy beyond the history that begin with slavery. She forgets her language, but, like her mother, commits infanticide.

Part One, Chapter 7


Paul D grows increasingly suspicious of Beloved, probing her with questions. Beloved reacts angrily, and Denver sides with her against him. Later, Sethe and Paul D have an argument about her. Sethe insists that it's no trouble to feed her, while Paul D thinks they might find somewhere else for Beloved to live. During the argument, Sethe insists that all men want to wrong women, all men including Halle, because he took off and ran when they were supposed to escape to the North together. But Paul D reveals that he did see Halle again, and Halle had gone mad. He was sitting next to a butter churn, butter all over his face. Paul D believes that Halle was watching from the loft when schoolteacher and his nephews took Sethe's milk. Paul D wanted to say something to him, but he couldn't because he had an iron bit in his mouth at the time.
Sethe is horrified. When she hears a story, her brain immediately begins to imagine it. She cannot imagine the future, but the stories of the past are vividly imagined in her head. So she sees her husband watching, impotent, while she is abused, and then she sees him by the churn, realizing that he was putting the butter on his face because he was remembering the milk that the boys took from Sethe. She dreads hearing the rest of Paul D's story.
Paul D tells her that while he had the bit in his mouth he watched a rooster strutting around the yard and felt inferior to it. He intends to tell her more, but she stops him by rubbing his knee. Paul D thinks it is just as well-he doesn't wish to show her "the tobacco tin buried in his chest, where a red heart used to be. Its lid rusted shut." Sethe, in rubbing his knee, feels like she is kneeding dough, something she does every day, and the ritual helps her to beat back the past.


Paul D, by setting himself against Beloved, makes his position precarious. Denver and Sethe are protective about the girl, and Beloved herself (although Paul D does not know it) is dangerous.
Both in the story of Halle's madness and Paul D's wearing of the bit, we see the emasculation of black men under slavery. Halle watched, powerless, while white men took his wife's milk. Paul D, a bit in his mouth as if he were an animal, watched a rooster and felt that his own masculinity was inferior to the bird's (the rooster's name, significantly, was Mister). The image of Paul D's heart as a tin with a rusted lid is one that recurs throughout the rest of the novel. It shows his strategy of survival has been to kill feeling, to remove his human heart.

Part One, Chapter 8


Upstairs, Beloved and Denver dance. Denver asks Beloved what it is like on the other side. Beloved tells her that on the other side she is small, curled into fetal position, and it is hot with no room to move. She has come back to see Sethe's face. When Denver asks her not to tell Sethe what she is, Beloved becomes angry, warning Denver not to tell her what to do. Denver, Beloved warns her, she can do without, but she must have Sethe. She asks Denver to tell the story of how Sethe gave birth to Denver in the boat.
Amy showed Sethe where a lean-to was, and tried to tend to her wounds. It was Amy who said that the scars on Sethe's back were a chokeberry tree. Amy wondered what God could be up to. Sethe, to everyone's surprise, lived through the night. Sethe and Amy found a boat the next morning, and in that boat Amy helped Sethe to give birth to Denver. They came ashore and tended to the baby that night, dressing the infant in rags from their own bodies. The next morning, Amy asked Sethe to tell the baby about her and then set off on her own, afraid to be caught with a runaway.


Beloved's need to possess Sethe is frightening: she insists that Sethe is hers, and that she needs her. The dynamic between Denver and Beloved is unhealthy: Denver is desperate for kindness from Beloved, but Beloved is fickle and selfish, like a child, only needing Sethe. Denver often feels rejected and lonely.
The tree on Sethe's back, and Amy's questions about what it could all mean, are reflective of the need to make sense of slavery's legacy. Amy's re-imagining of the scars as a tree presents a faith in art, in imagination, in hope. The tree is often an image of protection and shelter throughout the book (Paul D's tree at Sweet Home, Denver's boxwood room, the flowering trees Paul D follows to the North in a flashback later in the novel). Amy's aid to Sethe, and the beautiful birth of Sethe's child, shows more cause for hope. When the two women came ashore and tend to the baby, they were coming to see "what, indeed, God had in mind." There is reason to be optimistic. The birth of this baby, the baby who will be named Denver, provides a powerful juxtaposition to the story of the baby ghost, and shows hope for the future.

3. Summary and Analysis of Part 1, Chapters 9-12

Part One, Chapter 9


Sethe feels the need to go to the clearing where Baby Suggs used to preach. Baby Suggs did not give sermons, but instead instructed the crowds of black folks to laugh, dance, and love their bodies, in particular their hearts and mouths. Sethe wants to go there now to pay tribute to Halle, and she feels the need to commune with Baby Sugg's spirit. But she remembers, too, that Baby Suggs died in grief, embittered against whites and without hope for the future, all because of what happened to Sethe.
After Amy left and Sethe was on her own, she walked until she found a black man with two boys. The man was Stamp Paid, who gave her some eel and a coat in which to carry her baby. He left her at a relay station, where a woman named Ella came to pick her up, having been left "the sign" by Stamp Paid. Ella brought her to Baby Suggs, whom Sethe had never met before. Finally, she had made it, although she had to wait until the next morning to see her children so as to avoid frightening them with her haggard appearance. Baby Suggs bathed Sethe and soaked her feet, and Sethe began her life as a free woman. Her third child, a girl, whom she had not seen since she sent her ahead with the Railroad, had started to crawl. Sethe was so happy that for a while the realization that she was free seemed more like a dream, unable to hit her with full force.
In the clearing with Beloved and Denver, Sethe tries to feel Baby Sugg's presence. She feels Baby Sugg's fingers caressing her neck, they way they once did in life, but then the fingers begin to choke her. Beloved and Denver rescue her, and Denver tells her that Baby Suggs would never hurt her. Beloved massages Sethe's neck and kisses her, too passionately, her breath smelling like milk. Sethe tells her she's too old for that. Still, the visit to the clearing makes Sethe feel better, and she also decides that she wants Paul D in her life. She goes back to cook up dinner for all, remember the first day she arrived at 124, when she had milk enough for all.
Beloved hates Paul D, because he takes too much of Sethe's attention. She listens to the to of them for a while and then leaves to go outside. Denver confronts her about the clearing, telling her that she knows Beloved was choking Sethe, even if she did "rescue" Sethe afterward. Beloved warns Denver not to cross her and runs away.
Denver remembers when she used to go to school. When she was seven, she walked away from home and found the house of Lady Jones, a mulatto woman who taught black children reading, writing, and math. The year of school (in which she was avoided by her classmates without realizing it) ended when Nelson Lord asked Denver "the question." When Denver asked her mother "the question," she became deaf, not even hearing her mother's answer or anything else for two years. She regained her hearing when she heard the baby ghost crawling up the stairs.
Baby Suggs instructed the blacks to love their bodies, especially their mouths and hearts. They had to love their mouths to battle the speechlessness imposed on them under slavery, and their hearts they had to love in order to preserve their human feelings-her old philosophy stood in sharp contrast to Paul D's need to keep his heart locked away. But what happened to Sethe broke Baby Suggs, convincing her that there was "no bad luck in this world but whitefolks," and making her feel that her preaching had all been lies.
Sethe was elated at finally achieving freedom, unable even to conceive of the change in her life. Her elation set the stage for the desperate action she took later when schoolteacher found her.
Beloved's actions in the clearing reveal her malevolent streak, and her reaction to Denver's accusations hint at how dangerous she might be. In the clearing, however, Sethe is able to make peace with Halle's memory, and subsequently can resolve that she wants to try and make a new life with Paul D and the two girls. She believes she can take care of all of them, just like when she first arrived in Ohio, when "she had milk enough for all." She understands herself as a provider.
Denver's childhood deafness shows some of the danger of the past, from which Sethe has always tried to protect her daughter. The question of what happened to her mother made it impossible for Denver to hear anything, representing the power of the past to impair life in the present. But Denver's hearing also returned because of the sound of the ghost baby, possibly indicating that the answer to the pain of the past may lie in confronting it rather than avoiding it.

Part One, Chapter 10


After failing to escape from Sweet Home, Paul D was sold to a new master, whom he tried to kill. He was sent to Georgia. At a prison for blacks, he was kept in a small box in the ground at night and let out during the day to work in a chain gang. At night, he trembled uncontrollably. After months, a powerful rainstorm gave the men a chance to escape. Still chained, they ran until they found a Cherokee encampment. The Cherokee broke their chains.
Paul D, instructed to follow the blossoms (which would keep him going North) found his way to Delaware, where he stayed with a weaver woman for eighteen months. All of these experiences he put away in the "tobacco tin" lodged in his chest, and "nothing in this world could pry it open."

More of Paul D's painful past is revealed, making clear why his strategy for survival has been to strangle his own feelings. The level of brutality in Georgia far exceeded anything he had experienced at Sweet Home, and showed him how little his life was valued. The relatively gentle treatment he received under Mr. Garner, however, is no argument that there is an enlightened form of slavery. Whatever privileges he enjoyed under Garner were fragile, not his own to keep and protect. After Garner's death, there was nothing Paul D could do to save himself.
The image of the tobacco tin in his chest reveals how tightly he holds back all of his memories. Although we are told that "nothing in this world" can open it, Beloved is not of this world.

Part One, Chapter 11


Beloved moves Paul D. Inexplicably, he begins to feel uncomfortable sleeping with Sethe. He begins to sleep in the rocker, then in Baby Sugg's old room, then in the store room, then in the cold house. The moving, he knows, has nothing to do with Sethe, but is involuntary, yet he can do nothing to prevent it.
Beloved comes to him in the cold house and tells him to touch her "inside part" and call her by her name. Paul D tries to resist, but he cannot. She insists, and he does as she asks, horrified by his own actions. As he touches her, he repeats the words "red heart" again and again, like a mantra.


Beloved shows her intent to be rid of Paul D, first by moving him, and then by using sex to try to conquer him. Paul D cannot resist her, and the reader sees an indication of Beloved's power. He has survived slavery and a Southern prison for blacks, but he cannot resist the ghost.
The encounter pries open the "tobacco tin" in his chest, and his repetition of "red heart" indicates that he still has what he had tried to leave behind, the repetition giving the words a pattern like a heartbeat. Beloved forces him to feel what he does not want to feel. Perhaps because she is an embodiment of the past, the encounter with her tears down Paul D's defenses. Certainly, the sex is horrific and desperate and not entirely under his control, but Paul D's vulnerability and defeat by the ghost reminds him of his own human feelings.

Part One, Chapter 12


Denver remembers the "original hunger," before Beloved came. But even now, she cannot consistently win Beloved's approval or her smiles. She is desperate for Beloved to love her, and she fears that Beloved might leave again.
Sethe comes to believe that Beloved was locked up by a white man-all Beloved can remember is standing up on a bridge looking down and one white man. We later realize that the one white man is schoolteacher, but Sethe believes that Beloved was locked up and used for a white master's pleasure. Sethe remembers Ella, the woman who took her on the last leg of the Underground Railroad. Ella was locked up by a father and his son for a year, and Sethe thinks something like that may have happened to Beloved.
Denver follows Beloved out to the cold house, where Beloved vanishes into thin air. Denver begins to cry, worse than when Paul D first came: "Then it was for herself. Now she is crying because she has no self." But Beloved reappears, and asks mysteriously if Denver can see "her face." Denver cannot, and asks whose face it is, to which Beloved replies, "Me. It's me."


Denver conflates her own identity with the identity of Beloved, just as Beloved conflates her own identity with Sethe's. She cries and feels that "she has no self," showing how absolutely dependent she has become on Beloved's presence and approval.
Beloved, in turn, sees herself as one with Sethe. When she sees "her face," she means the face of her mother-which, in her mind, is equivalent to herself. Like infants in the theories of some psychologists and psychoanalysts, she sees her mother's identity and her own as one.
This relinquishment of selfhood is not healthy-and is a transformation and continuation, of sorts, of the lack of selfhood blacks had while still slaves. Although the Civil War has been fought and the slaves emancipated, Denver and Beloved are not yet ready to own themselves. They instead find the Self lodged in the identity of another.

4. Summary and Analysis of Part 1, Chapters 13-16

Part One, Chapter 13


Paul D wonders about his masculinity. Mr. Garner prided himself on having slaves who were men, and Paul D believed him, but now he wonders about the value of masculinity bestowed on him by a white master. Once Garner died, after all, that masculinity proved terrifyingly easy to take away. And now, he finds himself unable to beat Beloved. He begins to wonder if she is more than just a girl.
He resolves to tell Sethe, but cannot, and instead asks if Sethe will have his child. He is growing to love Sethe more and more, but Sethe gives an ambiguous response. Later that night she tells him that he won't be sleeping outside anymore, but should come upstairs where he belongs. He is grateful to her, only the second time in his life he has been grateful to a woman. The first was in Delaware, when the weaver woman gave the half-starved fugitive Paul D some sausage.
Sethe does not want to have Paul D's baby, but she is happy to have him home. She is beginning to understand Beloved's identity, although it is not yet totally clear to her.


Paul D's anxiety's about his own masculinity point to the shortcomings of even Mr. Garner's "enlightened" slavery. Although his treatment of his slaves was good, the slave's dignity still had its origin in an outside source and was therefore meaningless.
Sethe does not want to have Paul D's baby, but she is happy for his presence and for the two girls. She still dreams that one day Howard and Buglar will come back, revealing a mindset that considers the future, but only in a way that refuses to let go of the past. Her assertion that Paul D will now start sleeping inside shows her ability to take command of a situation. She resolves the tension of Paul D sleeping outside, and by her words she breaks Beloved's spell of expulsion-although not necessarily Beloved's strange hold on Paul D. This simple decision shows Sethe's strength and the limits of the ghost's power.

Part One, Chapter 14


Beloved is infuriated by Paul D's return into the house, but Denver defends him, saying that he is there because Sethe wants him there.
Beloved fears that her body might fall apart, knowing that it could happen at any moment. Holding herself together takes great effort, and she fears waking up to find herself in pieces. She loses a wisdom tooth and is afraid that the process is beginning, but Denver assures her that it's normal. Beloved tells her it hurts and Denver asks why she doesn't cry. So she does, as if the idea had never occurred to her before.


Denver's defense of Paul D shows some sign of independence, as well as consideration of her mother's feelings and desires.
Beloved's fears about falling apart hint that her presence in the world of the living is a great effort, and Paul D's return to the house shows the limits of her powers. But the emergence and loss of her wisdom tooth, despite her fears, actually shows the strength and possible permanence of her flesh in the world. Her body is growing, changing, going through the stages of growing up. When she learns how to cry, we see how like and unlike a baby she is: all experiences are new for her and she has to learn them like an infant does, but some of those experiences (like crying) are things that should come instinctively to a human.

Part One, Chapter 15


After Sethe's arrival at 124, Stamp Paid got two buckets full of blackberries and brought them to Baby Suggs. With that as the beginning, a giant feast came about spontaneously, a celebration for all of the black people in town. Afterwards, the other blacks in town actually resented Baby Suggs, feeling that her generosity was a sign of pride. They began to resent her preaching and her fortune at having so many members of her family with her.
Baby Suggs originally allowed Halle to buy her freedom only because it had seemed to mean so much to him. She was convinced that she was too old to really need freedom, but as she was driven north by Mr. Garner she suddenly was intoxicated by the knowledge that she was free, noticing her hands and realizing that they were her own, and feeling her heartbeat-noticing it, in a way, for the first time. Baby Suggs then asked Mr. Garner why he and his wife always called her Jenny. He revealed that "Jenny Whitlow" was her legal name, the one on her bill of sale. Baby Suggs told him that Suggs was her husband's name, and she was always called Baby, and that no one ever called her Jenny.
Baby Suggs's first stop was at the Bodwins', a brother and sister who were abolitionists. Janey, their black servant, gave Baby Suggs water to drink and told her that her family all lived in the area. The idea was wondrous to Baby Suggs, who thought then and there that she might be able to find the scattered bits of her own family (after two years of fruitless attempts and letters, Baby Suggs gave up). She met the Bodwins, generous white people who let her stay at 124 and voiced their disapproval of slavery. Mr. Garner spoke up, reminding them that he allowed Halle to buy Baby Suggs's freedom, but she thought silently that her son would be working off that debt for years to come.
After the feast celebrating Sethe's arrival and the arrival of Baby Suggs's grandkids, Baby Suggs could smell the disapproval of the community in the air, and she had a vague premonition of the disaster that was coming.


The novel powerfully conveys the feeling of suddenly owning oneself, of having been a slave and then being free. Baby Suggs did not realize until she was free how freedom would change her, make her body her own. Nor did Mr. Garner. When Baby Suggs laughed and told him that she could feel her heart beating, he thought that she meant her heart was pounding out of nervousness. In fact, she meant she felt like she could hear her heart beating for the first time. Mr. Garner's expectation that Baby Suggs should be grateful was met by her silent thoughts about how her son remained in captivity, showing the great divide between their perspectives, even though Garner considers himself enlightened.
Baby Suggs's inquiries about her own name and her search for her family reveal the absence of self-knowledge and self-recognition under slavery. The absence of a name, which will appear again in the next chapter, signifies a denial of her humanity; her old master never called her by any name at all. Baby Suggs refused to go by her newly discovered name, keeping instead the name her husband gave her, the name she has been called by other blacks for all of her life. The decision shows the importance of relationships to identity, as does her search for her family.
The community's envy of Baby Suggs shows the ex-slaves' anxieties. They were not ready to celebrate life and became resentful of her generosity. They felt, wrongly, that Baby Suggs was flaunting her good fortune at having brought in so much of her family. Their hatred of what they consider to be pride manifests itself again with Sethe, who stands alone and does not go to the community for anything.

Part One, Chapter 16


Twenty-eight days after Sethe arrived at 124, schoolteacher, one of his nephews, the slavecatcher, and the sheriff ("the four horsemen") came to reclaim Sethe and her children. Sethe, on seeing them, ran into the shed and killed the crawling baby girl's throat. She tried to kill Howard, Buglar, and Denver, but did not succeed. Howard and Buglar she only managed to wound, and Denver she attempted to throw against a wall. Stamp Paid leapt in and saved Denver's life. Schoolteacher saw then that she would never be a good slave again: "you just can't mishandle creatures and expect success." The sheriff told the other three white men to leave, saying that it was now his business.
Baby Suggs moved in and tried to take control of the situation. She told Sethe to nurse Denver, but became infuriated when Sethe absent-mindedly brought Denver to her chest without cleaning away the dead baby's blood. They fought over the child, Baby Suggs finally slipping on a puddle of blood. Denver drank her sister's blood along with her mother's milk. Then Denver and Sethe were carried into town in the sheriff's wagon, a crowd of blacks looking on disapprovingly at Sethe's straight back and unashamed eyes.


The first part of the chapter, although in the third person, is from the perspective of schoolteacher and his nephew. After that, the perspective shifts back to that of the blacks. The use of both perspectives shows powerfully how schoolteacher dehumanizes blacks: all of them are nameless "niggers" differentiated by what they wear. When the perspective shifts back to the main characters and we realize that the "nigger with the flower in her hat" is Baby Suggs, the refusal of schoolteacher to recognize black humanity becomes even more clear. We know Baby Suggs as a human being, but in the eyes of the schoolteacher all of the blacks are different specimens of animal. He is unnerved by the gaze of their eyes and has to leave-discomfited by that simple confrontation with their humanity.
"The four horseman" refers to the Four Horsemen (Famine, War, Pestilence, Death) of the Apocalypse, as described in the Bible. Their arrival signifies the end of the world, just as schoolteacher, his nephew, the slavecatcher, and the sheriff end the twenty-eight days of happiness Sethe has enjoyed.

5. Summary and Analysis of Part 1, Chapters 17-18

Part One, Chapter 17


During the days, Paul D and Stamp Paid work with hogs. Cincinatti is the city of pork, exporting the valuable meat back to the Northeast. Stamp Paid shows Paul D the old newspaper clipping about Sethe killing her baby daughter. Paul D insists that the woman in the picture is not Sethe because "that ain't her mouth." Stamp Paid, remembering that horrible day, thinks about the fact that no black person sent warning to Sethe. The four white people were riding towards 124 with "the Look," and everyone who saw it knew what it meant. Stamp believes that there was some meanness that caused the inaction of the black community, jealousy left from the feast weeks earlier. He keeps these thoughts to himself.
But Stamp Paid helps Paul D to read through the article, at the end of which Paul D is still insisting the woman in the drawing cannot be Sethe.


The revelation that no one in the black community helped Sethe, all because of jealousy aimed at Baby Suggs, is a horrifying one. It makes the tragedy of the child's death the responsibility not only of Sethe and the whites who came to get her, but of the entire black community. Jealous of Baby Suggs, all because of her preaching and her fine house and her intact family, the community let Sethe take punishment-all would have known that schoolteacher and his nephews were coming for her and her children.

Part One, Chapter 18


Sethe, confronted by Paul D about the newspaper article, tries to explain herself. She circles the room wildly, starting by talking about the child who died, and then about what it was like to be free. Suddenly, Sethe was allowed to be selfish, to live her life as if it were her own to live. And her children were free; she felt for the first time that she could love them fully, because in Kentucky they had not been hers to love. What she doesn't tell Paul D is that when she saw schoolteacher's hat, it was as if a giant flock of birds was beating in her head. She could not allow her children to be taken.
Sethe still insists that she did the right thing. She still believes that her children were better off dead than under schoolteacher's rule. Paul D is frightened by her and her claims, feeling that Stamp Paid showed him the article not just to warn him of what Sethe had done but of what Sethe tries to claim. Sethe loves her children too much, not knowing where "the world stopped and she began." What she wanted for her children was guaranteed safety, and she was willing to kill them to get it for them. Paul D also is still ashamed of his sex with Beloved, feeling her eyes on him through the ceiling. He tells her that she has two legs and not four, implying that she is a human and not an animal and that she should have found another way. He leaves 124.


Sethe's literal circling of the room parallels the way she tells her story, moving around, filling in gaps, trying to explain all the circumstances leading up to the horrible event. Her insistence on loving her children so fiercely actually scares Paul D, who believes that ex-slaves should not love so much. He accuses her of having love that is "too thick," but from Sethe's point of view love is either thick or worthless.
The text has prepared us for Sethe's deed by showing the horrible conditions under slavery and the dehumanization suffered by human beings when they are owned by other human beings. Sethe could not bear to have her children treated as animals, and Paul D's insinuation that she behaved as an animal is especially hurtful for that reason. He is also coming down hard on Sethe because he is ashamed of his relationship with Beloved, whose gaze he feels he cannot escape. And both he and the black community are wary of the demands Sethe places on life, for her and her children-demands too proud and fierce, in their opinions, for an ex-slave to have.

6. Summary and Analysis of Part 2, Chapters 19-22

Part Two, Chapter 19


To Stamp Paid, 124 is "loud." He can hear the voices as he approaches the house, like a chorus of the dead. He wants to see Sethe and make sure everything is all right. Ever since he learned that Paul D left 124 on the same day that Stamp showed him the newspaper clipping, he has felt guilty. He worries that he did not take the feelings of Sethe or the well-being of Denver into consideration, and that perhaps he was infected by the feelings of the community toward Sethe. The last time he visited 124 was when he brought Baby Suggs's body out for burial. Sethe did not sing with the others at the funeral, and back at the yard of 124 afterward, the other mourners did not touch the food Sethe prepared. Sethe, in turn, did not touch any of theirs, and she forbade Denver to touch any of it as well.
At the door, Stamp Paid cannot enter the house. At the homes of blacks whom he has helped, he always enters without knocking, but today for some reason at 124 he feels the need to knock-and is not able to do it. He goes to 124 day after day, never working up the courage to knock on the door.
Sethe, to show the girls that Paul D's flight is not going to break her, takes the girls ice-skating. The three have a wonderful time, laughing and falling on the ice, not a soul to see them. At the end of the day, Beloved hums a bit of a song that Sethe made up to sing to her children. Sethe finally realizes who Beloved is. She goes to bed to consider the significance of what has happened.
Stamp Paid, still trying to make himself go to 124 and knock on the door, remembers how Baby Suggs was broken after what happened to Sethe. She never preached anymore, embittered and retiring to bed to think about colors. Stamp realizes now what Baby Suggs felt; he, too, has begun to feel tired "in his marrow." One day, while in the river, he found a bit of ribbon attached to a black girl's hair, the hair still attached to a piece of scalp. That small discovery was what made him feel fatigue, after a lifetime of tirelessly helping blacks.
Sethe, coming downstairs the morning after her discovery, is overjoyed. She makes breakfast, deciding it's all right to be late for work. The whole world, she feels, is in her home.
As Sethe walks to work, she thinks about all of the things that have taken place, rejoicing at her daughter's miraculous return, but also remembering her time in jail and the way that her own sons had become frightened of her. She remembers the way that Baby Suggs was broken and life became lonely after Sethe got out of prison, but now she feels like she can live with her daughters in the "timeless present."
Meanwhile, Stamp Paid finally knocks on the door. No one answers, and Stamp looks through the window to see Denver and Beloved. Not recognizing Beloved, he is uneasy. The supernatural voices around the house are still loud. He goes to see Ella, who speaks with disapproval about Sethe. She voices doubt that Sethe was even Halle's wife, and suggests that the white girl who supposedly helped Sethe to make it to the North must have been a ghost. Stamp is angry to learn the Paul D is sleeping in the church basement, and that no one in the black community has offered him a place to stay. No black man should have to ask for help, according to Stamp. He sets Ella straight, telling her that Paul D knew Sethe and Halle years ago. Ella suggests that the girl he saw through the window is the ghost of the dead baby.
At work at the restaurant, Sethe pilfers supplies rather than wait in line at the general store, where all of the black customers are served last. Her stealing still makes her feel guilty, and it reminds her of Sixo, who stole a baby pig and ate it. He attempted to justify it to schoolteacher, who beat him anyway "to show him that definitions belonged to the definers-not the defined."
Sethe also remembers the difficulty of caring for her children while working; no other women were around, and she had to find a way to do all of her chores and take care of her babies. Her internal voice addresses Beloved, trying to explain everything to her, although she believes her baby will understand why she did what she did. She remembers schoolteacher and his strange questions, his scientific measuring of the slaves body parts. She wants to tell Beloved something she has never told anyone: one day, while Sethe was working in the yard, she overheard him telling his nephews to list Sethe's human characteristics in one column and her animal characteristics in another. Sethe was horrified and was somehow shamed, too shamed to tell Halle about what she had heard. That night in bed, Sethe talked about missing Mr. Garner. Halle was none too eager to judge Mr. Garner too kindly, reminding Sethe that although Baby Suggs was bought and sent to freedom, Mr. Garner brought in Sethe and will own all of their children.
Sethe and the others decided to try to escape on the Underground Railroad. Life under schoolteacher was becoming increasingly difficult. But Sethe got her children through, sending three of them ahead on the Railroad and staying behind to wait for Halle. Later, on her own, she got through the journey to get to her children, walking by a mass of hanged black boys, one of whom was probably Paul A. Still speaking to Beloved in her mind, she seeks redemption and recognition of all that she suffered to reach her children: "Your remember that, don't you; that I did? That when I got here, I had milk enough for all?"
Stamp Paid believes that the voices around 124 are the voices of black angry dead. He thinks about what whites say: that under every black skin, no matter how polite the black person is on the exterior, a jungle is waiting. Stamp agrees that often it's true, but he believes that the jungle has been planted there by whites. The jungle has spread and spread, invading the whites who originally planted it.
The narrator tells us that mixed in with the voices around the house were the thoughts of Sethe, Denver, and Beloved: "unspeakable thoughts, unspoken."


The voices around the house link Beloved with all of the wronged black dead, making her the embodiment not just of the dead baby but of the entire bloody history of slavery. Repeatedly, Stamp can make out the word "mine," the meaning of which will be clear in the next four chapters.
Stamp and Baby Suggs show the incredible fatigue that comes after a lifetime of fighting slavery and its legacy. Stamp always considered Baby Suggs to be a partner in this fight, and her defeat troubled him deeply. Years later, the discovery of the ribbon has made him feel some part of her weariness. The novel is full of blacks who are broken by slavery and its aftermath-Halle, Sixo, Baby Suggs-and even those who survive slavery with something intact come away damaged. Baby Suggs stopped preaching, finally allowing life to silence her despite her earlier exhortation to her following that they should love their mouths. Baby Suggs blamed whites, but the black community also failed Sethe's family by not sending warning. Ella's ridiculous claim the Sethe might not be Halle's old wife shows the level of distrust for Sethe in the community.
Sethe is brought to a new brink by her daughter's return. She believes wrongly that Beloved's resurrection will mean an ability to live in the present-but the girl will prove to be a force for the darkness of the past. Sethe's internal monologue in this chapter is addressed to Beloved, as if she were speaking to her. In trying to explain to Beloved why she did what she did, she goes over the reasons again, explaining them to the reader and, perhaps most importantly, to herself. Although she hopes that she will not need to explain herself to Beloved, the need to go through the reasons shows that she still feels the need to explain her actions to herself.
Schoolteacher's pseudoscience shows one of the ways the blacks were objectified and dehumanized by whites. Sixo is beaten not only because he stole, but because he tries to usurp the position of "the definer." His clever manipulation of language and logic must be punished by schoolteacher, lest the white man's control of speech become threatened. Overhearing his categorization of Sethe's human and non-human characteristics is one of the most painful experiences of Sethe's life, perhaps as important as losing her milk or the beating she receives from schoolteacher's nephew. The experience caused a strange pinching and itching of her head, a precursor to the beating of birds' wings she felt before she murdered her baby.
Sethe still defines herself as a mother, trying to exhort the imagined Beloved to remember that when she arrived at 124, she had "milk enough for all." She wants to be able to shelter all of her children, protecting them from a world that despises them, and perhaps that explains why she is content to have Denver stay entirely on the property of 124. In her own house, the children of Sethe (Sethe believes) are easier to protect.
Stamp, still feeling guilty about showing Paul D the article, searches for him. He also tries to learn the identity of Beloved so that he can help Sethe if he can. Stamp realizes that in dehumanizing blacks, whites dehumanize themselves, as the "jungle" they have planted spreads and invades those who have planted it, making the whites act like animals themselves, worse than they ever want to act. Slavery degrades the masters as well.

Part Two, Chapter 20


"Beloved, she my daughter. She mine." The next four chapters are stream of consciousness, the first in the head of Sethe, the second in Denver's head, the third in Beloved's, and the fourth a mixture of all three. The end of the nineteenth chapter provides the setup, when it says that among the voices that Stamp Paid heard but did not recognize were the voices of the women of 124, voices formed from their unspeakable and unspoken thoughts.
Sethe begins by claiming the returned ghost as her own daughter, and insists that she does not need to explain herself because her daughter has come back of her own free will. She remembers the milk that was taken from her, and then she remembers when she herself was nursing, and Nan had to nurse her along with white babies. She remembers her mother's body. She says now she understands why Baby Suggs pondered color-because she had never had a chance to look at her world and enjoy it. She promises to show Beloved the world, colors and smells, the way a mother should. She recalls Amy, Mrs. Garner, what she can remember of the way they looked. She remembers taking the three children to the waiting spot for the Underground Railroad agent and deciding to wait because Halle was nowhere to be found. It was after she had been whipped. Sethe blames Paul D for her not being able to recognize Beloved right away. She wonders about her own mother, refusing to believe that she was hanged for running because she would not have run without Sethe. She remembers her mother's face, which was deformed into a permanent smile from wearing the bit so often. Sethe tells Beloved that she wanted to die with her baby, but had to stay because of the three surviving children. She was not allowed, at that time, to rest in peace. She believes her daughter will bring that peace to her, so that she "can sleep like the drowned." She closes as she opened, claiming Beloved as her own.


In Sethe's stream-of-consciousness passage, the past breaks open like a flood. Her memories tend to focus on the women of her life, from her mother and Nan to Amy and Mrs. Garner to Baby Suggs; she wonders about motherhood and the loss of milk, the milk that was taken from her as an adult but also as a baby, when Nan had to nurse the white infants first. In this chapter, she sees a little bit more that she could know-she would not be able to remember, under normal circumstances, that she received milk last as a child, although she might have known it from watching Nan nurse later on. Her devotion and protective instincts are overwhelming, and they are constantly foiled by slavery: she tends Mrs. Garner as if Mrs. Garner were her own mother, but Mrs. Garner looks at her ultimately as a person who is a piece of property. She waits for Halle, even though it is after she has received the abuse at the hands of schoolteacher and his nephews. She longs to give her daughter a world of the senses, the world many slaves never had the leisure to enjoy. Her demands are strong, and other ex-slaves cannot condone them: when she said she would not want to draw breath without her children, Baby Suggs begged God to forgive her. She could not bear to have her children endure slavery, and that is why she did what she did.
She cannot accept that her own mother may have run off without her. She is haunted by the image of her mother's face, which lost all power of expression after being deformed into a smile by the bit. Sethe's feeling of incompleteness in her early life, caused by the absence of any kind of family, has made her all the more desperate to have a family now. But the ghost's return, rather than provide closure to the past, opens it like a flood: one of the last images of the passage is Sethe sleeping "like the drowned." Beloved's return will overwhelm her physically and paralyze her emotionally, making it impossible to move forward. Remember that outside the house, the voices of Sethe and Denver are mixed in with the voices of the past, the voices of the dead-as if Sethe and Denver were already ghosts.
The idea of ownership runs through all four of these chapters. When Stamp is outside the house in the nineteenth chapter, the only word he can make out, repeatedly, is "mine." Love here is possessive and consuming. Sethe clarifies that for her, to say Beloved is hers means also that she belongs to Beloved. In the world after slavery, we can see in Sethe and her family the desperate need to do what Halle never could, to "lay claim." Part of that ownership, and the refusal to distinguish between one's self and others, is that Sethe could justify taking her child's life as if it were her own. This kind of desperate need to lay claim to others is not unnatural or evil, but it has dangers. This possessive love is devouring, and makes it difficult for Sethe to see herself and her own worth outside of her relationship to others and her role as mother.

Part Two, Chapter 21


Denver's stream-of-consciousness narration.
"Beloved is my sister." Denver reminds us that she swallowed Beloved's blood along with her sister's milk, and that the sound of her ghost restored her hearing. Denver has always been afraid of Sethe, although she does not known that she was nearly dashed against the wall by her. Howard and Buglar knew they had nearly been killed, and would terrify Denver with stories of how to kill Sethe if she ever tried to kill one of them again. Denver is afraid that whatever made Sethe do it could come again; she knows it comes from outside of the house, out in the world. She has never left 124 by herself since she was a pupil at Lady Jones' house-and that was twelve years ago. Twice she has been outside of the yard of 124 in that time, and both times she was with Sethe.
Denver feels it is her responsibility to protect Beloved should Sethe try to kill the girl again. She describes a recurring nightmare she had as a girl, in which Sethe decapitated her every night and then carried her head downstairs to braid her hair. Denver has waited years for her father to come, dreaming of him. She idealizes her father, calling him an angel-man. She misses Baby Suggs, remembering Grandma Baby's instructions to love her body. She remembers that Baby Suggs warned her that the ghost was greedy and needed lots of love. Denver claims Beloved as her own again: "She's mine, Beloved. She's mine."


Denver claims a kind of one-ness with her sister because, as in the sacrament of communion, she drank her sister's blood, making Beloved's flesh part of her own. The allusion to the Christian Eucharist is reinforced by the fact the Beloved's death made it possible for all of the other children to live in freedom. Although Sethe did not intend to turn Beloved into a sacrifice, the baby's death allowed all of them to stay in the North.
The image of Sethe braiding the hair on Denver's decapitated head is a powerful one, mixing motherly tenderness with brutality. Denver has never been able to fully understand why her mother did what she did, but she knows that Sethe's love was the force behind the act. In the nightmare, the love and the violent act are mixed in a macabre way, showing that Denver still does not truly understand her mother's actions, making her unable to reconcile her fear with her love for Sethe or herself with her mother's past.
Denver is still a young girl. Her dreams of her daddy's return are unrealistic, and the fact that she has never left the house alone since she was seven years old-twelve years ago-shows that she has allowed herself to be stunted by Sethe's smothering love. Her need to lay claim to her sister is powerful; she, too, seeks to dissolve herself in another.

Part Two, Chapter 22


Beloved's chapter is the most disjointed and difficult of the four.
"I am Beloved and she is mine." Beloved lays claim to her mother, remembering her face. She insists she is not separate from her and that "there is no place where I stop." Her mind does not wander to the past, but insists that she is in a timeless present: "All of it is now it is always now there will never be time when I am not crouching and watching others who are crouching too" She speaks of men without skin who frighten her, daylight that comes through cracks, a world where there is no room to move and rats that do not wait for them to sleep to attack them. A man's dead body is on top of her. People try to thrash but there is no room. Bodies pile up along with the living. She sees "the woman with my face" in the sea-possibly Sethe. There are clouds between them, and she sees a basket of flowers and Sethe's earrings. She is desperate not to lose her. The imagery is varied: there are clouds, water, then she is standing in the rain, there is night and day, the image of Sethe's face through the water, repeated reference to "a hot thing." Sometimes she is standing, sometimes she is curled up like a fetus. She want her face to join with Sethe's. Finally, Beloved is resurrected, emerging from the water and finding the house and the face she has wanted to join.


Beloved's passage is the most difficult of the four. Her memories are of the world of the dead, and, unlike her mother, whose mind wanders to the past, Beloved insists that in the world of ghosts it is always the timeless present. But she sees, again and again, the earrings Sethe used to dangle for her to play with and the flowers Sethe picked before schoolteacher came. She also was desperate to return to Sethe's face; she is most insistent on not being a separate entity, but rather an inextricable part of Sethe.
This chapter also constitutes a kind of race-memory, as Beloved describes a world that is eternally a slave ship. Sixty million or more died on the voyage from Africa (Toni Morrison dedicates this novel to them), and the slave ships were cramped and deadly places, where the bodies of the living and the dead were crammed into dark, rat-infested cargo holds. The "men with no skin," white men, are both schoolteacher and the slave traders. This world of Beloved's is claustrophobic and eternal, and often she is curled up in it like a trapped fetus, desperate to be born again so that she can return to Sethe.

7. Summary and Analysis of Part 2, Chapters 23-25

Part Two, Chapter 23


All four voices mix for this final chapter in the sequence. Beloved reiterates her need to "join," to be one with Seth. Sethe took her face away, Beloved believes, and Beloved refuses to lose that face again. The voices speak to each other, Sethe and Beloved, Beloved and Denver, and then the three together. Sethe asks Beloved for forgiveness, but Beloved avoids the question. Denver warns Beloved that Sethe is dangerous. Beloved insist on her complete connection to Sethe, saying that they are laugh and laughter, and that she wants Sethe's face. Again and again, we hear the words of one woman claiming another for herself. By the end of the chapter, it is unclear who is speaking, and we close with three repetitions: "You are mine/You are mine/You are mine."


Beginning with a fair amount of coherence and becoming less clear as the voices become less distinct, this chapter is haunting and ominous. It ends with a loss of identity, as the reader can no longer tell who is saying what. The claims to ownership are strong, with Beloved making the most insistent claims of all as she refuses to distinguish between herself and her mother. Note also that she does not forgive her mother for the murder.

Part Two, Chapter 24


Sitting on the church porch steps, Paul D drinks and feels that his tobacco tin has been pried open, leaving him vulnerable. He wonders if he should have lost his mind back when Sixo did, if it was going to come to this moment anyway. He remembers his family, and for the first time we hear that Paul A and Paul F were his brothers. He cannot remember his mother and never met his father.
Sweet Home was as good a life as a slave could have while Mr. Garner was alive, although Paul D vividly remembers when one of his brothers was sold and separated from him. No one believed the bad stories Baby Suggs, Halle, and Sixo told about other slave-holding estates. All depended on Garner; after his death, the precariousness of their position became clear. He continues to think obsessively about Garner's proclamations that his slaves were all men: "Was he naming what he saw or creating what he did not?"
Paul D recalls the plan they had made to escape on the Underground Railroad. The plan was made months in advance, but had to be altered because Sethe became pregnant. More and more complications arose, until the final run was a disaster. Halle and Paul A were nowhere to be found. Sixo and the Thirty-Mile woman showed up, but all three of them were pursued. Sixo and Paul D were captured by a large group of men with guns, including schoolteacher. Sixo would not stop singing, until schoolteacher decided he would never be acceptable as a slave again. They tried to burn Sixo alive, but the fire was not fast enough, and Sixo would not stop singing or laughing and shouting. It was the only time Paul D ever heard him laugh. The men shot him to silence him. The white men talked to each other about schoolteacher's problems at Sweet Home, and Paul D learned his price for the first time: $900.
Back at Sweet Home, in chains, Paul D had a final conversation with Sethe. When he saw her eyes, they were all black, like iron, without any whites left in them. He was ashamed to be there, chained in front of her. She told him that she was going to run, and because she was a woman and pregnant Paul D never expected to see her alive again.


Paul D cannot separate his strategy for closing off his heart and survival. Now that he cannot stop himself from feeling, he wonders if he should have died with Sixo; Paul D believes that to allow himself to have feelings will destroy him.
The description of their plans and failed escape are narrated in the present tense to give the memory a vividness, to show how powerful and present the run for freedom is for Paul D's mind still. He never saw his brother again, he lost Sixo, and his fortunes turned for the worse.
Paul D, Paul A, and Paul F were brothers, but their shared name emphasizes the loss of self under slavery. All the boys were interchangeable pieces rather than individual human beings. They were differentiated by letter, like exhibits in a courtroom or identical items on a list. After his capture, Paul D heard schoolteacher name his price. For the first time, he knew his worth as a piece of property. He began to ask himself how much each of them cost, marveling that the members of the only family he'd known had prices attached to each of them. Sethe, he realizes, was a valuable item, because she was property that could reproduce itself. The fact that he still finds himself thinking along these lines shows that Paul D is still unable to lay claim to himself. His fear about his manhood and its source also shows that fear. He is not sure if he was ever really a man, or if he only acted like one because Garner taught him how. Twenty-five years after Sweet Home, he feels uncertain about his masculinity and is unsure of his own worth as a human being.

Part Two, Chapter 25


Stamp Paid visits Paul D to try and make him reconsider his decision to leave Sethe. He tells Paul D the story of his name: when he was a young man, his wife was taken in by their master's son. For a year, Stamp (his name was Joshua then) did not touch his own wife. When she finally came back, his reaction was not joy but misdirected rage. He had a fantasy of breaking her neck. To help him deal with his rage, he changed his name, figuring that all debts had been paid during that year.
He defends Sethe's actions. Paul D tells Stamp that he is frightened of Sethe, but even more frightened of Beloved. Stamp is curious about where Beloved came from; he suspects, as Sethe once did, that she might have been locked up by a white man and used sexually until she escaped.


Stamp, like Baby Suggs, rejected the name on the bill of sale. Baby Suggs took the name used by her loved ones; she wanted to keep her identity tied to her relationships with other blacks, rather than to the papers that were part of her status as a slave. Rather than take a new name that had its origin in the speech of loved ones, Stamp took his name from something he lived through. His name also refers to his role as a messenger and envoy for the Underground Railroad-he was the "stamp paid," the thing that guaranteed that the thing being sent (the people escaping through the Railroad) would make it to the destination. His name is a badge of honor; like Sethe's scars, it is a sign of what he has been through and survived, and defies schoolteacher's command that definitions stay in the hand of the white definers. By rejecting names given to them by whites, Baby Suggs and Stamp Paid make themselves the definers.
8. Summary and Analysis of Part 3, Chapters 26-28

Part Three, Chapter 26


Sethe has seemingly lost her mind, able only to care for Beloved. It is as if Denver does not exist. Sethe and Beloved play games all day long, and Sethe spends extravagant sums on expensive fabric to make colorful dresses for the three of them. She arrives late to work repeatedly and loses her job. Beloved, in turn, demands everything. When the playing began, Denver was included, but soon it became clear that the two of them were more interested in each other. At first, Denver was afraid for Beloved, but after a time she became more concerned for her mother. Beloved is growing fat while Sethe wastes away, and they are running out of food. There is also constant fighting, as Sethe tries to explain herself to Beloved, who refuses to forgive her. She describes the world of the dead as a terrifying place, and is not interested in Sethe's explanations. When Sethe tries to assert herself, Beloved flies into a rage.
In April, Denver decides that she has to go for help. Beloved is destroying her mother; they are all "locked in a love that wore everybody out," and Denver is afraid for her mother's life. She finds the courage to leave the yard of 124 for the first time since she was seven, and she makes her way to Lady Jones.
Lady Jones is a mulatto woman with yellow hair; she despises her Caucasian features and married a dark-skinned black man. Because of her light skin, she was picked to go to a school for black girls, and now she teaches the unpicked children of Cincinatti. She remembers Denver, who was one of her brightest students, and tries to help her. Without mentioning the ghost, Denver tells her old teacher that Sethe is sick, and Lady Jones feels great sympathy for their situation.
Over the next few weeks, Denver keeps finding baskets with food in them, with little scraps of paper on which the senders' names are written. Denver returns the baskets and thanks the senders, and so for the first time she gets to know the people in Cincinnati's black community. Lady Jones gives her reading lessons.
The home situation gets worse, as Beloved grows more demanding. Sethe continues to try and explain herself to Beloved, telling her about the horrors of slavery and why she did what she did. She never wanted her daughter to be whipped or have to break her back working like a beast of burden. Above all, she wanted no one to list her daughter's characteristics on the animal side of a sheet of paper. She wants Beloved's forgiveness, but Beloved will not give it. However, Denver listens to her mother's explanations. Realizing that she cannot depend on the community to feed them forever, Denver resolves to get a job. She goes to the Bodwins to ask for help.
Janey, the servant who was there at the arrival of Baby Suggs, still works for the Bodwins. Compared to other whites, the Bodwins are very generous to the black community. Denver sees about getting a night job, telling Janey that Beloved is a cousin who bothers Sethe and contributes to her illness. Before Denver leaves, she sees a piggy bank in the shape of a black boy with exaggerated features, the words "At Yo' Service" written on the base.
Janey spreads the tale that Sethe's dead baby has returned and is punishing her. The story grows as it spreads, and sympathies in the community are with Sethe. Ella, despite her past distrust of Sethe, organizes the women to go and free 124 of the ghost. When she was shared by the white father and son years ago, she gave birth to a baby and neglected it until it died. She does not want the past to interfere with living now, because living in the present, as she sees it, is difficult enough.
On the day that Edward Bodwin comes to 124 to pick up Denver for her first day of work, thirty women of Cincinatti's black community go to rid the house of Beloved. They stay out in the yard, praying and singing. Beloved goes to the porch to confront them, pregnant and naked. Sethe loses control; when Mr. Bodwin comes up the road she is convinced that schoolteacher has come to take Beloved and she runs at him with an ice pick.


This chapter sees a dramatic transformation of Denver from a timid and awkward girl to a self-reliant young woman. Her interactions with the community and her resolve to save her mother transform her. Also, for the first time, she perhaps comes to understand her mother's actions and the burden of the past: even though Beloved has no interest in Sethe's explanations, Denver listens to all of them.
Beloved's hunger for her mother is insatiable and all-consuming. While Beloved needs endless attention, Sethe is just as desperate for forgiveness. Her need for her daughter's understanding indicates her own painful burden of guilt. Although she told Paul D that her actions saved her children, she cannot feel free of what she did. Beloved has returned for revenge and out of need; she represents the horrifying legacy of slavery and the power of the past to live on and haunt the survivors. Like Sethe's feelings of guilt, she makes living in the present impossible.
The Bodwins are former abolitionists and great allies of the black community. However, the scene in the house reminds us that there are limits to the goodness whites can show blacks-blacks are certainly not treated as equals or given respect, as indicated by the piggy bank in the shape of the caricatured and servile black boy.
The black community's reaction to Beloved is possibly partly out of feelings of guilt-their failure to help Sethe many years ago helped to make the tragedy at 124. Ella, once one of Sethe's harshest critics, is revealed (only to the reader) to have committed infanticide herself.
Sethe, in Beloved's presence, is trapped totally in the past. Like a broken record, she must constantly reiterate her reasons for doing what she did; she must constantly relive the pain of slavery. The horror of reliving past events comes to a climax during the exorcism: she relives the horrible moment when schoolteacher came for her. This time, she tries to kill the oppressor rather than her child-but Mr. Bodwin is not the same man as schoolteacher, and Sethe nearly makes a terrible mistake. However, the other women stop her. By preventing Sethe from slaying Mr. Bodwin and ridding 124 of the ghost, they atone for the sins they committed against Sethe in the past.
The fact that the exorcism is a communal act makes a statement about Beloved-she (and the legacy of slavery she represents) is a force with which the entire community must contend.

Part Three, Chapter 27


Paul D returns to 124, knowing from Here Boy's presence that Beloved is truly gone. (Here Boy is the dog who was always terrified of the ghost.)
Stamp Paid has told Paul D about the strange events at 124. The voices he once heard have stopped. Mr. Bodwin has decided to sell 124, but it may take some time to find a buyer. He will not press charges against Sethe for the attempted murder, because he was so fixated on Beloved that he did not realize Sethe was trying to kill him. Before Sethe reached him, the women, including Denver and Ella, were able to tackle Sethe to the ground. Mr. Bodwin believes Sethe was trying to kill one of them. Beloved vanished. One minute she was there, naked and pregnant, and the next she was gone.
Paul D also ran into Denver as she was on her way to work at the Bodwins'. Despite their previous dislike for each other, the two had a polite conversation. Denver confided that she believed that Beloved was more than the ghost of her dead sister, but she does not say more than that. She told Paul D that she believes she has lost her mother for good, and exhorted him to treat Sethe well if he visits 124.
Paul D has been trying to make sense of the stories circulating in the community. Some say Beloved came back to make Sethe attack Mr. Bodwin, because Mr. Bodwin was the man who saved her from hanging for the murder of her child. All say that they saw the ghost and then it vanished. A boy who was in the woods behind the house that day claims he saw a naked woman running through the forest, a woman with "fish for hair."
Paul D contemplates his failed escape attempts, working as a slave in both North and South. He ran from Sweet Home, Brandywine, Georgia, Wilmington, and Northpoint, and every time he got caught. At the end of the Civil War, as he tried to make his way North, he saw that blacks were still unsafe, massacred by angry whites throughout much of the South.
His return to 124 is sad. He sees signs of Beloved everywhere: ribbons and other brightly colored cloth, bought for Beloved's pleasure; a garden planted for a child; and, hanging from a wall peg, the dress she wore when she first arrived. Sethe has nearly lost her mind, and lies in bed, unable to care for herself. She has no desire to live or work for living anymore; as Baby Suggs did, she has retired to bed and never leaves.
Paul D tells her he's moving in, and that he'll take care of her at night, when Denver is away. Sethe remembers all of the people who have been with her and then left her: her sons, Amy, her mother, and Beloved. She begins to cry, telling Paul D that Beloved was her "best thing."
Paul D wants to make a life with Sethe, deal with their past and build a future with her. He tells Sethe that she is her own best thing, and a bewildered Sethe replies, "Me? Me?"


Despite what has happened, in this chapter we see closure and hope for the future. Denver has become a strong and independent young woman, determined to continue to care for her mother. Paul D returns to Sethe, resolving to help her to confront the past and build a future together.
The nature of the ghost remains unclear, and although the dog's presence means that she is gone from the house, the little boy's story and the physical remnants of her presence indicate that no exorcism can be complete. Her dress does not vanish into thin air-it hangs from the wall peg. Years ago, when Denver first saw signs that the ghost baby "had plans," it was because of the empty phantom dress that held her mother as she prayed. We are left again with an empty dress here at the end of the novel, the dress an item as physically real as any living being. It continues to be a sign that the past does not vanish.
Sethe, as Baby Suggs was before she died, seems broken by the events of the past year. She still does not understand her own worth, independent of her role as a mother, and only can respond with bewilderment when Paul D tells her that she is her own "best thing." With Paul D, Denver, and Sethe living as a family, healing may be possible. Sethe may learn her own worth.

Part Three, Chapter 28


The narrator tells us that Beloved is slowly forgotten, first by the people of the community, and then by the people of 124. For a time, strange events continue, but memories of the ghost begin to fade. There is not even a name to attach to her: "Everyone knew what she was called but no one anywhere knew her name." They cannot remember what she said or if she said anything; they do not pass on her story. Several times, the narrator tells us that "It was not a story to pass on."


The last chapter presents a contradiction. Although Beloved's story, according to the narrator, is not a story to pass on, the novel performs exactly that action. For the characters of the novel, forgetting Beloved is a necessity. The past must be dealt with in a healthy way. Although traces of Beloved remind them of her from time to time, the dead remain dead, and the relationship between the characters and their past is allowed to become more manageable. For us, however, the story has to be passed on if we are to understand the history that is embodied in Beloved.
Beloved is referred to as the forgotten, the unnamed. The novel is dedicated to "Sixty Million, and more"-the people who died during the transatlantic crossing. By capitalizing "Sixty" and "Million," Morrison is ascribing a title, a kind of name, to the often forgotten and anonymous first victims of the slave trade. The novel reminds us of their suffering, and invites the reader to contend with the past and the legacy of slavery. The effects of slavery continue to this day, and, like the characters of the book, we must learn to understand the past if we are to deal with its effects on the present. Beloved is also our name, taken from the funeral service in which Sethe mistook the minister's words referring to the assembled mourners for the name of the dead. Beloved is a ghost of the past, but she is named for the audience at her funeral-an audience that includes, through the form of the novel, the readers of the book. Her name is ours; her legacy is one that we share and must confront.

VI. Tony Morrison - Beloved Quiz [ 25 Questions ]

1. Sethe lives with Denver in

A. Alabama
B. Pennsylvania
C. Ohio
D. Missouri

2. Denver is Sethe's

A. friend
B. mother
C. niece
D. daughter

3. Sethe escaped from a farm called

A. Sweet Home
B. Old Mill
C. High Hill
D. Wuthering Heights

4. Sethe was once a(n)
A. African princess
B. Underground Railroad agent
C. medicine woman
D. slave

5. The farm from which Sethe escaped was located in

A. Kansas
B. Georgia
C. South Carolina
D. Kentucky

6. The house in which Sethe and Denver now live is referred to throughout the book as

A. 123
B. 124
C. 228
D. 321

7. Sethe's home is now haunted by the ghost of

A. Baby Suggs
B. one of Sethe's daughters
C. a Civil War soldier
D. a lynched fugitive

8. Sethe paid for the word "Beloved" on her deceased child's tombstone by

A. mending
B. borrowing money from the church
C. having sex with the stone carver
D. selling a piece of jewelry

9. Paul D spent time in prison in

A. Alfred, Georgia
B. Dayton, Ohio
C. Augustine, Florida
D. New York, New York

10. Sethe escaped from slavery with the help of

A. Amy Denver, a white girl and former indentured servant
B. Stamp Paid, an Underground Railroad agent
C. Ella, an Underground Railroad agent
D. all of the above

11. Amy Denver was looking for carmine colored velvet. She believed she would be able to find the best velvet in a certain city. Which city was it?

A. Boston
B. Atlanta
C. New York
D. Toronto

12. Baby Suggs was Sethe's

A. mother-in-law
B. mother
C. aunt
D. grandmother

13. Schoolteacher could be said to represent

A. the kindness of some slave-owners
B. the power of political dissent
C. Christian charity
D. the abuse of science and the role of science in justifying slavery

14. The scars on Sethe's back resemble a

A. bird
B. tree
C. ghost
D. cross

15. Shortly after his arrival Paul D takes Sethe and Denver to a

A. Indian reservation
B. casino
C. museum
D. carnival

16. On first seeing Beloved, Sethe feels

A. an urge to hit the girl
B. an uncontrollable urge to urinate
C. a terrible and sudden fatigue
D. a burning pain in her old scars

17. Sethe's reaction on first seeing Beloved symbolically refers to

A. rage at the atrocities of the past
B. the pain left from Sethe's past suffering
C. childbirth, through the image of the water breaking
D. weariness of the hardships of life

18. Beloved is

A. a fugitive slave on the run
B. the ghost of the dead baby, in the form of a living girl
C. an escaped patient from a mental hospital
D. a con artist

19. Beloved could be said most convincingly to represent

A. African tribal culture
B. the pain of the past and the legacy of slavery
C. the need for Christian faith
D. the joys of motherhood

20. Throughout the novel, Paul D's heart is most often said to have been replaced by

A. an empty void
B. a savage beast
C. a ball of stone
D. a tobacco tin with its lid rusted shut

21. Years ago, Sethe's baby died because

A. of artillery fire during the Civil War
B. of a train accident
C. Sethe killed her rather than see the child returned to slavery
D. Sethe's family was massacred by the Klan

22. Baby Suggs instructed her followers to love their bodies. Her command shows the need for former slaves to

A. reclaim themselves and overcome the self-loathing learned under slavery
B. become more decadent
C. kill anyone who tries to hurt them
D. organize militias to fight the Klan

23. After the tragedy of what happened to Sethe, Baby Suggs

A. resolved to help blacks learn to read and write
B. became embittered and gave up her preaching
C. became militant and organized militias to fight white oppression
D. fled for Canada

24. Sethe was hunted down and found by schoolteacher

A. one year after she arrived in Cincinatti
B. 28 days after she arrived in Cincinatti
C. before she reached the North
D. 3 years after she arrived in Cincinatti

25. One of Sethe's most horrifying experiences was when she overheard schoolteacher tell his nephews to list Sethe's characteristics

A. in three columns, one for the Id, one for the Ego, and one for the Superego
B. in two columns, one for human characteristics and one for female characteristics
C. in two columns, one for human characteristics and one for animal characteristics
D. in two columns, one for human characteristics and one for supernatural characteristics

VII. Tony Morrison - Beloved Quiz Answers

• 1-C;
• 2-D;
• 3-A;
• 4-D;
• 5-D;
• 6-B;
• 7-B;
• 8-C;
• 9-A;
• 10-D;
• 11-A;
• 12-A;
• 13-D;
• 14-B;
• 15-D;
• 16-B;
• 17-C;
• 18-B;
• 19-B;
• 20-D;
• 21-D;
• 22-C;
• 23-B;
• 24-B;
• 25-C.

Un comentariu:

  1. I must recommend reading The Underground Railroad (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel.
    I finished reading it today, and I think its a really good book.

    I got mine off Amazon and they delivered it in just 2 days.
    Here is a link for the book on Amazon: