The novel “Beloved” opens in 1873 with an introduction to the House on 124. Baby Suggs, Sethe’s mother-in-law, lived at 124 until she died. 124 was a way station for Blacks run by Baby Suggs. 124 is the address where Sethe and her family lived, who had four kids, the third child was killed. Sethe also has 2 sons, Howard and Buglar who ran away at the ages of twelve and thirteen. The spirit of Sethe’s third child who was killed at the age of one, haunts the house of 124.
When Mr. Garner died, she ran off from “Sweet Home” to 124. Things changed shortly after Mr. Garner died. Sethe sent her two boys and her baby girl off to Cincinnati to live with their grandmother Baby Suggs. As Sethe was trying to escape from “Sweet Home” she was caught by white men who cornered her, took her milk, and beat her back so badly, that once healed she had been told that the scars look like a “cherry tree”.
Paul D from “Sweet Home” visited Sethe at 124. While in the kitchen discussing the past, Paul D approached Sethe, unbuttoned her dress to get a good look at the “cherry tree” scars on her back. Sethe speaks to Paul D of the time when the two white men took her milk that she was saving for her newborn that she sent to Cincinnati. Paul D then reaches around Sethe and places his hands over her breasts. At that very moment the spirit of 124 confronts them. Paul D puts up a fight with the spirit and finally after 18 years of haunting it seems that he has gotten rid of the baby’s spirit. After doing so they feel that Paul D has finally put their past lives to rest.
Sharing their hard times together, Sethe and Paul D start to plan a future together with each other. Paul D promises to be there for Sethe and she reluctantly agrees to let him take hold of her life.
As Paul D, Sethe and Denver arrive back from the carnival they notice a women is leaning against a tree in the yard. This woman seems to be very tired, extremely thirsty, her shoes look new, and her skin flawless. She has a very rough voice however, when they ask her what her name is, she manages to spell out B-E-L-O-V-E-D.
Denver cares for Beloved for weeks. However, Beloved begins to show devotion towards Sethe. Beloved tends to inquire about Sethe’s past, constantly asking questions that trigger old memories for Sethe. Paul D begins to grow suspicious of Beloved. Paul D tends to constantly question Beloved about her past, yet Beloved continuously avoids his questions.
Denver reveals to Beloved that she knows Beloved was the spirit of 124. Now she wants to know why she came back alive. Beloved tells Denver that she really came back for Sethe. Beloved speaks to Denver about the place from where she came. Beloved explains the place as hot, very small, nothing to breath, and no room to move. Her description symbolizes both a womb and a slave ship.
One night while sitting by the fire Beloved begins humming a song. Sethe realizes that the song she is humming is a song that she had made up and used to sing to her children. “Nobody knows that song but me and my children,” Sethe tells Beloved. Sethe then realizes whom Beloved really is, her third child come to life. She interprets Beloved’s return as a sign that she has been forgiven and freed from the past. She then decides not to worry anymore about the outside world, yet to focus towards her family. Sethe tries to justify to Beloved that the murder was an act of love. She continuously assures Beloved that she will be a good mother. Sethe is no longer troubled with Paul D leaving.
Sethe did everything and gave everything to Beloved, Beloved was never satisfied. Denver starts to fear for their lives because food has been starting to become scarce, so for the first time in eighteen years she leaves the house to go look for food. Denver decides that it would be best for her to get a job, for she is very fearful for her mother’s life. She finds herself a job at Bodwins.
Beloved was pregnant and sucking up every bit of Sethe’s life. The local women came to 124 to help Sethe and Denver from Beloved. During Mr. Bodwin’s appearance at 124, Sethe’s action was to kill Mr. Bodwin mistaking him from Schoolteacher thinking he was going to take her children. With all the singing and praying, Beloved vanished.
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