Free Study Guide: Beloved by Toni Morrison|
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FREE BOOKNOTES: BELOVED BY TONI MORRISON
When Sethe hears the woman's name, she immediately feels tender towards her because her name reminds Sethe of the one word on her daughter's gravestone. Denver, who is eager to have any kind of companionship, also takes a liking to the woman and shakes with excitement about her presence. Realizing how tired the stranger is, Paul D takes her up to a room to sleep.
Because of her exhaustion, Beloved sleeps for days. Denver tends her with great care and patience, nursing her back to health and relishing her company. Seeing the two of them together, Sethe understands how lonely Denver has been.
Even after Beloved grows stronger, she stays on at 124 Bluestone. Paul D is bothered by her presence, but Sethe and Denver want her to stay longer. Despite her prolonged visit, Beloved shares very little information about herself. Sethe and Paul D wonder if the fever perhaps caused her to have amnesia. They do learn that she is nineteen or twenty years old, even though she moves like a heavy, old woman.
Paul D is totally puzzled by Beloved. She is still so weak that she
can barely walk. One day, however, Paul D sees her pick up a heavy rocking
chair with one hand. He does not understand the disparity and feels even
more uncomfortable about Beloved's presence.
The arrival of Beloved is symbolically the return of Sethe's past. The ghost of Sethe's baby girl has disappeared from the house, chased away by Paul D. Now Beloved physically appears as a young woman of twenty, the same age that Sethe's baby would be, had she lived. When Sethe gets a good look at the woman, she cannot believe her eyes and has to run to relieve herself. It is obvious that the woman reminds Sethe of her deceased daughter. When Sethe relieves herself, she is reminded of her water breaking before giving birth to a child. She also thinks about how she gave birth to Denver in a boat. Her thoughts then turn to the time she saw her own mother for the first time.
Everyone at 124 Bluestone has a different reaction to Beloved. Denver is beside herself with excitement to have a companion. She takes on the role of nursemaid and cares for Beloved during her recovery. Sethe feels tender towards the young woman, for she is a reminder to her of her own dead daughter - in name, age, and appearance. Paul D is the only one who feels uneasy about Beloved. He is bothered by the fact that she will not give her last name or answer his questions; he also wonders if she might be suffering from cholera or amnesia. The family dog, named Here Boy, also has a strange reaction to Beloved. The dog refused to ever come in the house when the ghost supposedly lived inside it. When Paul D chased the ghost away, Here Boy came back inside. Now the dog, sensing there is something wrong with Beloved, takes one look at her and runs away.
Through her descriptions, Morrison makes it clear that Beloved is the embodiment
of Sethe's dead daughter. Her perfect, unlined skin is like that of a
newborn. Her head wobbles as if she were unable to hold it up, just like
a newborn. The fact that Beloved emerges from water also suggests that
she is a newborn, just emerged from the mother's womb.
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. 09 May 2017