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Return of Beloved

With the arrival of Beloved, it is almost immediately assumed that this character represents the return of Sethe’s baby that died years ago in some eerie, supernatural way. Apart from the obvious, that being her name, there are many other signs indicating she is in fact the child from Sethe’s past. It began with a quiet devotion to Sethe that could only be compared to that of a child’s devotion to its mother. Beloved wanted to spend every moment she could with Sethe, and often acted in ways that gave off a fear of potential abandonment by the older woman. She became enamored with hearing Sethe speak and tell stories of her past. Sethe noted that storytelling, “became a way to feed her.” (69) However, what Denver noticed in this is that occasionally Beloved would indicate she wanted to hear a certain story that she should not have been able to know about like in the case of the earrings. This leads to the sense that Beloved comes from Sethe’s past and knows more than she is letting on. 

The language used to describe Beloved’s connection with Sethe is well-suited to describe a mother-daughter like relationship. With words and phrases like “desire” and “pet-like adoration,” the way Beloved feels about Sethe could be described as love. The words Beloved uses to describe where she was before staying with Sethe, Denver, and Paul D depict imagery in line with the idea she was in-fact Sethe’s baby. When Sethe asks about where Beloved was beforehand Beloved responds, “‘Dark,’ said Beloved. ‘I’m small in that place. I’m like this here.’ She raised her head off the bed, lay down on her side and curled up.” (88) Immediately, this description conjures up the image of a small child in the fetal position. Beloved goes on to describe the temperature where she was as “hot,” and saying how there was no room to breathe or move as if she is describing her time in the womb, or also potentially, her grave. These eerie descriptions of Beloved’s past only serve to compel and confuse the reader further on how this character could in-fact be Sethe’s past child returning.

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  1. Sara Messervey Sara Messervey

    The scene with Denver in the last chapter also brings back the idea about coming from a place that’s dark, then light, then dark again. This could be describing her in the womb, her birth, and then her death again. It definitely seems like she’s either some kind of apparition or undead creature from her past–because we seem to know from that last chapter that she is Sethe’s Beloved.

  2. Katherine Fell Katherine Fell

    I also think that this idea that Beloved is somehow the iteration of Sethe’s dead child is explored in the ways that Beloved is described. As you said, her reference to being from “dark,” which could be connected to the womb, can be drawn to the fact that her hands and feet are so delicate and new, like a newborn’s.

  3. David Ataide David Ataide

    I immediately thought that as well. Maybe because her name is literally Beloved but also in the weird descriptions of her like how she is “sick” but doesn’t appear sick at all. Certain things that Toni Morrison used to describe Beloved immediately set off red flags for me that this was not a normal girl and that it is most certainly the representation of Sethe’s dead daughter.

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