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Beloved's relationships with: Sethe

home Background Characteristics Relationships

Beloved's Relationship with Sethe (Dhruv) Now, I personally have not finished the book. However, I am very close to doing so and I hope this analysis in Beloved's and Sethe's relationship is comprehensive as possible. If it is not, then, that is probably why it isn't. I will strictly discuss only the relationship, as other people in the group are doing the other connections.

Symbolism

Initially, Sethe does not make the connection between this new girl, whose name is Beloved, and her daughter from years ago. She takes her in, and cares for her. Beloved is immediately attached to Sethe. She looks at her constantly, and besides sending other body signals, she asks Beloved many questions, about her past and the way she looks. "Beloved took every oppurtunity to ask some funny question and get Sethe going. Denver noticed how greedy she was to hear Sethe talk. Now she noticed something more. The questions Beloved asked: 'Where your diamonds?' 'Your woman she never fix up you hair?' And most perplexing: Tell me your earrings. How did she know?" (63) It's obvious then, the strong initial connection between Sethe and Beloved. This bond continues to grow, however, there is the feeling of mutual hatred between Paul D. and Beloved. He sees her for what she is, a manipulative demon, and she tries to seduce him every chance she gets. However, her one and only attachment is to Sethe and Sethe only, even shunning Denver, who cared for her. "She don't love me like I love her. I don't love nobody but her." (116) Said by Beloved, it illustrates the apparent love that Beloved has for Sethe. "I am Beloved, and she is mine." (210, 214) Again, said by Beloved, this quote is repeated. She is Sethe. When Beloved says, she is mine, she truly means that in a selfish sense. Beloved is a young baby, only seeing her mother for herself. "You are my Beloved You are mine You are mine You are mine" (217) However, after a while, the relationship starts to go sour. Beloved turns into a manipulative women, as Paul D. had suspected, and their (Sethe's and Beloved's) relationship starts to turn parasitic. Beloved takes away from Sethe, and will not let her forget the unmentionable acts she did to her baby (perhaps even her? There is a mountain of evidence to support that), and in turn Sethe tries to assuage Beloved by explaining to her, in her own ways, what had had to be done in such a situation. At this point in the novel where I am, the above analysis chronicles the basics of the relationship between Sethe and Beloved.

Denver “’We have a ghost in here’, she said…/ ‘So I hear,’ he said. ‘But sad, your mama said. Not evil.’ / ‘No sir,’ said Denver, ‘not evil. But not sad either.’ / ‘What then?’ / ‘Rebuked. Lonely and rebuked.’” (Morrison 16) This first conversation between Paul D and Denver shows Denver’s connection with Beloved. Even though at this point in the plot Beloved was still a ghost of a baby haunting 124, Denver has already started to cling to Beloved. The feeling Denver has for Beloved is brought on by Denver’s own loneliness and emotional instability. When referring to her father Denver says: “Only those who knew him (“knew him well”) could claim his absence for themselves. Just as only those who lived in Sweet Home could remember it, whisper it and glance sideways at one another while they did. Again she wished for the baby ghost—its anger thrilling her now where it used to wear her out. Wear her out.”(15) Denver seems to seek understanding from Beloved. She just wants someone that knows how she feels and at this point of the book, she believes that Beloved does feel the same loneliness. Along with that, Denver knows there is a separation between her and her mother and the separation becomes even wider when Paul D shows up. Since Sethe’s life is so reliant on the past and unwilling to move forward, Denver is by herself since she has no knowledge of Sethe’s past and Sethe refuses to share it. Thus, Denver wishes she was a part of the past, wishes she knew more about it, because maybe then she would understand her mother and maybe more about herself. So Denver seeks the attention of Beloved who, since she is a ghost, is part of that past that is so hidden to Denver. When Beloved “walks out of the water” (60), Denver’s wish for company more or less comes true. Denver’s emotional insecurities, brought on by the lonely years she has lived with her mother, can now be healed by the friendship she can have with her reincarnated sister. But it turns out that this is not what happens. Beloved doesn’t care for Denver as much as Denver cares for her, and although Beloved is looking to make a strong relationship in this new life of hers, she is not thinking of making it with Denver. Like any two year old, even though physically she’s not two years old, Beloved wants the attention of her mother, not her sister. “To go back to that original hunger was impossible. Luckily for Denver, looking was food enough to last. But to be looked at in turn was beyond appetite; it was breaking through her own skin to a place where hunger hadn’t been discovered. It hadn’t happened often, because Beloved seldom looked right at her, or when she did, Denver could tell that her own face was just the place those eyes stopped while the mind behind it walked on.” (139) Despite Beloved’s indifference to Denver most of the time, Denver believes that her main goal is to protect Beloved from Sethe. Denver is still haunted with the idea that her mother killed her sister and tried to kill her and her two brothers. She fears Sethe, but Denver doesn’t understand the motives behind Sethe’s past actions. Denver says, “She cut my head off every night. Buglar and Howard told me she would and she did. Her pretty eyes looking at me like I was a strange. Not mean or anything, but like I was somebody she felt sorry for.” (243) This example shows the paranoia that Denver felt about Sethe which prompts her to feel like she needs to protect Beloved. All in all, Denver's relationship and feelings toward Beloved at this time of the book can be summed up by this quote: "Beloved is my sister. I swallowed her blood right along with my mother's milk" (242) Beloved, despite her death, has always been a key role in Denver's life and now that she is alive again, Denver will not let anyone hurt Beloved. I’m almost done with the book but I haven’t quite finished so this is as far as I can go. But once I finish the book, I plan on editing the rest of this. By the way, I have a different book, so the pages are different in the class set. (Lindsay)

Paul D. “And of course the spite of the house itself. There was no room for any other thing or body until Paul D. arrived and broke up the place, making room, shifting it, moving it over to someplace else, then standing in the place he had made,” (Morrison 47). Immediately, the relationship between Paul D. and Beloved is conflicting. There isn’t enough room for the two of them, so he kicks Beloved out. This is a small victory for Paul D., but it is negated with the return of Beloved in human form. From the beginning, he is the only one who is sufficiently suspicious of Beloved. Denver already knows who Beloved is, but doesn’t realize her malevolent character. Sethe may know, but tries to suppress this knowledge. Paul D. immediately notices Beloved’s peculiar behavior: “”Something funny ‘bout that gal,” Paul D said, mostly to himself. “Funny how?” “Acts sick, sounds sick, but she don’t look sick. Good skin, bright eyes, strong as a bull.””

The two characters have a conflicting relationship. Beloved wants to get to Sethe and sees Paul D. as an obstacle that must be removed. Paul D. believes that Beloved is in the way of a potentially happy life in 124. “From all those Negroes, Beloved was different. Her shining, her new shoes. It bothered him. Maybe it was just the fact that he didn’t bother her. Or it could be the timing. She had appeared and been taken in on the very day Sethe and he had patched up their quarrel, gone out in public and had a right good time—like a family. Denver had come around, so to speak; Sethe was laughing; he had a promise of steady work, 124 was cleared up from spirits. It had begun to look like a life. And damn! A water-drinking woman fell sick, got took in, healed, and hadn’t moved a peg since.” Paul D. wants Beloved out of the house, and vice versa. Neither can outright say it because they don’t want to upset Sethe. Because Beloved has power over 124, she is better able to manipulate Paul D. to leave: “She moved him. Not the way he had beat off the baby’s ghost—all bang and shriek with windows smashed and jelly jars rolled in a heap. But she moved him nonetheless, and Paul D. didn’t know how to stop it because it looked like he was moving himself. Imperceptibly, downright reasonably, he was moving out of 124,” (134). This quote displays Beloved’s manipulative nature and the power she claims over 124. She manages to be somewhat victorious with this endeavor, as Paul D. soon ends up sleeping in the shed, only using a newspaper as a blanket. It is in this shed that Beloved comes to visit him and they have a sexual encounter. “I want you to touch me on the inside part and call me my name,” (137). This event in the novel complicates Beloved’s character. Obviously, this is not how a toddler would act, and Beloved had been acting like a twoyear old for the majority of the novel. This also shows her neediness and insecurity about her identity, as she repeatedly begs for Paul D. to call her name. This encounter can be seen in two ways. Beloved may have seduced Paul D. because she sees him as a threat and an obstacle to get to Sethe. She seduces Paul D. because he sleeps with Sethe. If she sleeps with him, Paul D. wouldn’t need Sethe anymore for that, and Beloved would have Sethe all to herself. Another way to see this encounter can be explained by the following quote. “”She don’t love me like I love her. I don’t love nobody but her,” (137). Beloved has a deep obsession with Sethe, but the feeling is not reciprocated to the extent that she wants. The sexual encounter with Paul D. may have been an attempt to try to get the affection she wants. Also, this event shows another major role of Beloved in the novel: catalyst. “Saying more might push them both to a place they couldn’t get back from. He would keep the rest where it belonged: in that tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be. Its lid rusted shut,” (87). Paul D. had suppressed his memories for so long. He didn’t want to feel the pain and trauma of his past, so he replaced his heart with a “rusted tin.” His heart had remained like this until his encounter with Beloved. “Paul D. never worried about his little tobacco tin anymore. It was rusted shut,” (137). Beloved loosens this tin box. “So when the lid gave he didn’t know it. What he knew was that when he reached the inside part he was saying, “Red heart. Red heart,” over and over again.” Although Paul D. has tried to suppress the trauma of the past, he hasn’t been able to fully escape it. His stay at 124 and this encounter with Beloved unleash everything he has tried to keep at bay. *Note: I have a different copy of the book, so the page numbers are different than those of the class set.

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