Free Study Guide: Beloved by Toni Morrison|
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BELOVED BY TONI MORRISON: FREE TEACHING GUIDE / LESSON PLAN
Paul D's treatment in the Georgia prison camp is horrid and dehumanizing. He is chained to his fellow prisoners, locked in a cell underground, forced to perform oral sex on the brutal prison guards, and made to grueling labor in the fields. The only relief to the misery is the solidarity he feels with the other prisoners. Since they are not allowed to speak to each other, they communicate in songs and gestures. When bad weather turns the earth to mud, they plan their escape together, diving to freedom through the mud. The solidarity of the group emphasizes a central theme of Morrison's novel: people can best resist oppression if they act in concert with each other.
The welcome the prisoners receive by the Cherokees is significant. Both
blacks and native Americans were terribly oppressed by the white man;
as a result, the Cherokees understand the needs of the escaped black prisoners
and allow them to stay in their camp until they are strong enough to travel.
Paul D is the last prisoner to leave the Cherokees. He is reluctant to
go, for he has no family to find and no destination in mind. When he departs,
he is simply heading North. He winds up in Delaware and meets a female
weaver, who takes him in. He stays with her for a year and a half, since
he has no place else to go.
Beloved is responsible for moving Paul D out of 124 Bluestone even though Paul D believes he is moving himself. He falls asleep one night after supper, sitting upright in a rocking chair. Instead of feeling sore from the uncomfortable position, he feels refreshed when he awakes. The next evening, he does the same thing. He continues to have sex with Sethe every morning, but he keeps finding himself sleeping away from her. One night, Paul D decides to sleep in Baby Suggs' old room. Sethe does not object since she is now used to sleeping alone. Paul D cannot understand his own behavior. He believes he loves Sethe more every day, but he finds himself moving further away from her physically and emotionally. He soon begins to sleep in the storeroom, then in the cold house. Once there, he realizes the moving is involuntary.
One night Beloved walks into the cold house where Paul D is staying
and tells him that she wants him to touch her "on the inside part"
and call her by her name. She then hoists her skirt. Tempted but trying
to resist, Paul D keeps his eyes glued to the lard can and off Beloved.
Her temptations continue, and he finally gives in to his desire. After
betraying Sethe, Paul D notices that the rusted-shut lid on the tobacco
tin has come loose. Beloved has stirred his true emotions, causing him
to repeatedly say, "Red heart."
In this short chapter, Beloved seduces Paul D. Her ghostly powers are so strong that Paul D cannot resist her even though he diligently tries. Morrison has foreshadowed Beloved's temptations by having her watch the mating turtle with fascination. The reader clearly understands that Beloved wants to tempt Paul D in order to keep him away from Sethe, whom she wants all to herself.
It is significant that Beloved wants Paul D to call her by name. She is a being in desperate need of recognition. Having been deprived of her mother when she was a toddler and still unrecognized by her, Beloved feels she never had owned an identity; now as a young adult, she wants someone to truly name her.
Paul D reacts to his having betrayed Sethe and the family he has formed with
her. After having sex with Beloved, he notices that the lid of his tin
can, which has been rusted shut, comes loose. Since he believes that the
tin can is the replacement for his hardened hard, Paul D realizes that
his actions have caused him to have genuine feelings once again. It is
a step in his healing process, and one he must make in order to live a
full life with Sethe. It is ironic that what Beloved has done to drive
Paul D away from Sethe will have the opposite outcome. Beloved has caused
him to have feelings once again, which will help him to form a permanent
relationship with Sethe.
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TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on Beloved".
. 09 May 2017