Beloved: Novel Summary: Section I Chapters 14-16
Paul D, ashamed that Beloved has so much power over him, decides to tell Sethe about what has been going on. However, he is too ashamed to tell her and instead asks her to have his baby, hoping this will break the hold Beloved has on him. They are closer after this, until Beloved meets them along the road and comes between Paul D and Sethe again. Before bed, Sethe instructs Paul D to come back to sleeping in her bedroom, and he realizes that she can break the spell simply by making her wishes known. However, this just makes Beloved more determined than ever to get rid of him.
Beloved's tooth comes out. She realizes this is the beginning of her falling apart. She knows that her pieces will come apart one at a time.
The story also jumps back to Baby Suggs's experiences, telling how all her children had been sold away from her before they even grew up. Only Halle, her youngest and eighth child, remained with her until adulthood, and he bought her freedom because Mr. Garner let him make his own choices. Mr. Garner brought her over to Cincinnati, where a white brother and sister named Bodwin helped her find a place to live and get employed. She was determined to find all her lost children, but the search turned out to be futile and depressing after two years.
So, when Sethe and her four children came to stay with baby Suggs after escaping slavery, she was so grateful and joyous that she made a mistake. She wanted to use up some berries by making pies, but it turned into a huge supper for ninety people. The next morning, the people in her town were resentful of the excess and the showiness of the party. Baby Suggs could sense their resentment and feared it meant something bad was coming.
There is a constant shifting of power because the person who cares too much about another person is under her power. Beloved is controlled by her love for Sethe, but she wants to bring Sethe under her control by getting rid of the man who takes up so much of her attention.
Because Beloved is unnatural, this state of her being in the living world cannot last much longer. The dead are not meant to be in the world of the living, so she has to work very hard to keep her physical body together. Her physical body is borrowed, and as it falls apart she knows her time in this world is limited.
However, there is some doubt as to whether she even is the ghost that Denver thinks she is. After all, Denver is a lonely girl and maybe she is just imagining that this woman is her sister. This powerful need for a sister could just be allowing Beloved to manipulate her.
Baby Suggs's experiences underscore the way that slavery can take away basic family relationships. She was not allowed to keep most of her children, so she learned not to love too strongly. Halle, who she was allowed to keep, "she barely glanced at when he was born because it wasn't worth the trouble to try to learn features you would never see change into adulthood anyway" (146). This is a reminder of Paul D's warning that a slave woman should not love too deeply.
Slave masters even had the right to name their slaves. Her bill of sale calls her Jenny, even though she is Baby Suggs. She refuses to go by Jenny Garner because her husband, the father of only one of her children, called her Baby and had a last name of Suggs. She chooses to keep this name because it is her only chance to claim her own identity through who she chooses to love, but the masters call her by a different name.
Beloved Study GuideChoose to Continue
- Novel Summary
- Section I Chapters 1-3
- Section I Chapters 4-6
- Section I Chapters 7-9
- Section I Chapters 10-13
- Section I Chapters 14-16
- Section I Chapters 17-19
- Section II Chapters 1
- Section II Chapters 2-5
- Section II Chapters 6-7
- Section III
- Character Profiles
- Metaphor Analysis
- Top Ten Quotes
- Toni Morrison
- Essay Q&A