Sethe works hard to remember as little as possible about her past, and the memory of her sons is fading fast. Most of her painful memories involve Sweet Home, a plantation in Kentucky where she lived as a slave until her escape eighteen years ago.
On this day, however, she returns home and finds an unexpected and surprising guest: Paul D walks into a pool of eerie red light and feels a wave of grief come over him.
Sethe explains that the presence is the sad specter of her dead baby, whose throat was cut before it was two years old. Baby Suggs left because her son Halle had bought her freedom with five years of weekend labor. Sethe was beautiful then, and the five male Sweet Home slaves waited in agonizing sexual frustration, having sex with calves and dreaming of rape, while she took a year to make her choice among them. She chose Halle, and together they had two sons and a daughter.
Sethe was pregnant with a fourth child, Denver, when the family made its escape from Sweet Home. Sethe and Halle were separated during their escape, however, and neither Paul D nor Sethe knows what happened to Halle. Seeing her mother flirting and talking about Sweet Home with Paul D makes Denver feel lonely and excluded.
She reacts with surly jealousy and dissolves into tears at the dinner table one evening. She cries that she cannot stay in the house because the community knows it to be haunted. Consequently, everyone avoids Denver and she has no friends. Later, Sethe explains that she was whipped before she ran from Sweet Home to meet Baby Suggs and her children, whom she had sent ahead, in Cincinnati.
The white girl who helped deliver Denver said the resulting scars looked like a chokecherry tree. Paul D comes up behind her and pulls down the top of her dress. He cradles her breasts in his hands while he kisses each line of her scars.
The house immediately begins to lurch and shake as the ghost vents its rage. Paul D shouts and fights with the ghost, chasing it away. After twenty-five years of fantasizing about Sethe, Paul D finds the consummation of his desire to be a disappointment. His thoughts turn to Sixo, a fellow slave at Sweet Home, who would walk thirty miles to meet his girlfriend while Halle and the Paul brothers pined away after Sethe.
When Halle bought Baby Suggs her freedom, she believed that, at her age, she was too old for her freedom to mean anything.
Garner if they were to have a wedding, but the white woman only laughed. With nothing to make the partnership official in any way, Sethe secretly stitched herself a dress to mark the occasion. The lovers consummated their relationship in a cornfield, and the swaying corn stalks alerted the other men that Sethe had finally made her choice.
That night, the other Sweet Home men ate the fresh corn that came from the stalks broken by Sethe and Halle. Denver turns to the outdoors for comfort and contemplation. A ghostly white dress knelt beside Sethe with its arm around her waist. When Denver had asked her mother what she was praying about, Sethe told her she was thinking about time, memory, and the past.
Sethe ran away from Sweet Home when she was pregnant with Denver. Amy led Sethe to an abandoned lean-to and massaged her tortured feet back to life. Because the story is about her birth, Denver loves to hear it told. After the episode in which Denver believed she saw the baby ghost kneeling next to her praying mother, Sethe told Denver about schoolteacher, who was Mrs.
Garner died, schoolteacher came with his two nephews to run the farm. Schoolteacher used to record his observations of the slaves in a notebook. As Paul D repairs the furniture he damaged during his confrontation with the ghost, he sings songs he learned while in a chain gang in Alfred, Georgia.
Sethe tells Paul D that after her escape, schoolteacher came to Cincinnati to take her and her children back to Sweet Home. Sethe went to jail instead and took Denver with her. Paul D does not ask her for details because the mention of jail reminds him of his experiences in Alfred. Paul D interprets this as a sign of intense motherly love and thinks it is dangerous for an ex-slave to love anything too much.
Paul D has learned to love the individuals in his life only partially, so that he has enough love left over for the next person when the first is taken away. Paul D promises Sethe that she can safely reenter her past because he will be there to catch her if she falls.
He invites Denver and Sethe to a carnival in town that is having a special day for blacks. At the carnival, Denver surprises herself by having a good time. The people they see there greet her casually, rather than showing her the contempt she expects. Because he is such an extrovert and so shamelessly thrilled by the carnival, Paul D is a hit with the other carnival-goers.
He thus helps reintegrate Sethe and Denver into the community, and he makes a few acquaintances. He also inquires about getting a job. On the way to and from the carnival, the smell of rotting roses is overpowering.
Also, both on the way there and on the way back, Sethe notices that the three shadows of Paul D, Denver, and herself overlap so as to appear to be holding hands. She interprets this as a promising sign that signals future happiness.
A fully dressed woman walks out of a stream and falls asleep beneath a mulberry tree. The woman moves to a tree stump near the steps of , where Paul D, Sethe, and Denver find her as they return from the carnival. Denver and Paul D take the woman inside, where she drinks cup after cup of water. Her name, it turns out, is Beloved. Beloved sleeps for four days, waking only to ask for water. While Beloved sleeps, Denver cares for her with a possessive devotion.
He remarks that although she acts and sounds sick, she does not show visible signs of ill health—the other day, he tells Sethe, he saw her pick up a rocking chair with one hand. He claims that Denver was also watching, but when he asks Denver for confirmation, she denies having seen any such thing. Beloved develops a strange attachment to Sethe. Garner for her wedding. She then recounts the story of her haphazard, patchwork wedding dress.
Sethe explains that she rarely saw her. Sethe remembers that her mother once took her aside and showed her a circle and a cross that had been burned into her skin. She said that Sethe could use these marks to identify her body if she died. When Sethe asked to be marked, too, her mother slapped her. Sethe tells the girls that she did not understand why her mother had done this until she had a mark of her own.
Sethe mentions that her mother was hanged, and she is suddenly stunned by the recollection of a disturbing memory that she had forgotten. Sethe was kept because she had a black father, for whom she was named. Time is a very valuable thing and such opportunities by contacting us to help you can spare it for you, providing you with more abilities and possibilities in your life. Besides, the ability to get online homework which was skillfully accomplished for you with a high quality with only one mouse click is even more pleasant thing for you to be known.
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A study guide for Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. Includes plot summary/explanation, character analysis, themes, quotes, a forum and more! Homework Online Study Guides.
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