Beloved: Novel Summary: Section I Chapters 10-13

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Summary
Paul D remembers all that happened to him that made him stop being a man, all of which happened after Sethe escaped. He was sold to a slave trader who made the men spend the night in boxes in the earth and kept them chained to one another. Once, when the rain threatened to flood the boxes with water and mud, the slaves all together dove down and escaped from their boxes, still chained together. They found a group of diseased Native Americans who helped them survive and then escape to the north. Paul D had locked away all that made him alive, his whole heart, in a rusted tin box where his heart used to be because these terrible experiences taught him that feeling too much is dangerous.

 

Now, in Sethe's house, he involuntarily stops sleeping in her bed. First, he sleeps in the rocking chair, then the keeping room, and then out in the shed, even though it is winter. He realizes that somehow Beloved is compelling him to keep moving. Finally, one night she comes to him and compels him to make love to her so she can drive a wedge between him and Sethe.

 

Denver is afraid Beloved might leave, so she works hard to entertain her and keep her involved in activities. When they go out to the shed for cider, Beloved disappears for a moment and then reappears. Denver is afraid she will go, but Beloved tells her that this is the place where she belongs, not the other place she came from.

 

Analysis
While Mr. Garner had called his slaves "men," others did not see them as that, and the treatment he received as a slave caused Paul D to lose his sense of himself as a man. "Life was dead" because a rooster had more freedom than he did. He was moved about at the whim of other men. In the years after escaping slavery, he hid away all of the things that mattered to him, because having a heart means a heart can be broken. Just like it is dangerous for Sethe to love too much, Paul D realizes it is dangerous to care too much about anything. This has helped him bring some life back to him, but at the same time he is careful not to be too alive.

 

However, he has started to care a lot about Sethe. When Beloved can move him around on a whim, it is like the slave masters who moved him around without his consent. She steals some of his manhood, but her mystical power also reawakens his longing to be a man.

 

Beloved's ability to come and go, to move people around, and to captivate those around her is a power that none of the others have felt because white people have held so much power in their lives. Denver's entire being is tied up in Beloved remaining, but Beloved wants that level of devotion from Sethe. So, there is a lot of power in being loved, and Beloved holds power over all the other characters.

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