Beloved: Novel Summary: Section I Chapters 7-9
Paul D does not trust Beloved. He senses that she is aroused, but he realizes that her arousal is not sexual and not aimed at him. Rather, she is so infatuated with Sethe that she shines. He pushes her and asks questions about her past, because she has been in the house for five weeks and has told them nothing about her past. Denver, however, adores Beloved. They dance together in their room, and Denver starts to realize that Beloved is actually her dead sister's ghost. When she cautions Beloved not to tell Sethe who she is, Beloved is unkind to her, saying all she needs is Sethe, not Denver.
Denver tells Beloved the story of her birth. Amy, the white girl who found Sethe by the side of the road, helped heal her enough to keep going by hiding her in a lean-to and massaging her swollen feet. Then, they went to the river, where Sethe suddenly went into labor. Amy helped Sethe deliver the baby but then had to leave because she was afraid of being caught with a runaway slave. Fortunately, Sethe found a boat crossing the river and the man on it, Stamp Paid, helped her across the river to Baby Suggs's house. There, Baby Suggs nursed Sethe and the new baby back to health, and Sethe was able to breastfeed her other daughter, as well.
Paul D tells Sethe that Halle was in the barn to meet her when they were supposed to escape together from Sweet Home. Sethe did not see him so she had sent the children on before and had to wait for Halle. But, Halle had been in the loft and seen the boys holding Sethe down and drinking her breast milk, and that is what finally broke him. He went crazy and stopped speaking, sitting with butter smeared all over his face. Paul D, at the same time, had a metal bit in his mouth that kept him from speaking.
Sethe goes to a place called the Clearing with Beloved and Denver to deal with her feelings over what happened to Halle. The Clearing is a place in the woods where Baby Suggs had held religious gatherings, where she encouraged people to laugh, cry, and dance. She was an informal preacher who believed in the promise of love, but that only lasted for twenty-eight days after Sethe came. While Sethe is in the clearing, she feels gentle fingers on her throat that she thinks belong to Baby Suggs's ghost. Then, the fingers begin to choke her, and it is only after Denver and Beloved run over that the choking stops. Beloved makes her feel better by touching and kissing the bruises, but Sethe stops her because she is acting like a two-year-old child.
When they return to the house, Beloved secretly sees Sethe and Paul D making love and she is very envious that Paul D can have any of Sethe's attention, which she wants all for herself. Denver accuses Beloved of somehow being the ghost who choked Sethe, but Denver knows she cannot stop Beloved no matter how violent her plans are for Sethe because she loves Beloved so much.
It is still unclear just what happened during the escape from Sweet Home. Something went wrong, but the order of events is still kept ambiguous. This has to do with "rememory," as Sethe calls it. It is painful to remember all the tragedy of their lives, so these former slaves only bring it back in small pieces.
There is a conflict between mother/child love and woman/man love. The kind of love that Beloved feels for Sethe has no room for anyone else, much like a small child has no room for sharing its mother with others. Denver's love for Beloved is similarly obsessive, and she also closes out all others. Sethe believes that, "Just like the day she arrived at 124-sure enough, she had milk enough for all" (106). However, the people around her do not want to share her love and nurturing with one another.
The kind of love that Beloved feels for Sethe is clearly very dangerous, because she can both choke and heal her. It is the selfish love of a child combined with the strength of a woman, and, combined with Sethe's weakness for loving her children, this will become dangerous.
The Clearing is a mixture of Christian religion and more traditional African communal religion. Slaves often combined the religion they brought with them with the religion of their masters, and this combination got handed down through the generations. Baby Suggs was not exactly a preacher, but she was "holy" and able to help people connect with God.
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