Toni Morrison's Beloved - Passion between Sisters


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 Passion between Sisters in Beloved

 

From the very beginning of Beloved I have found something very striking about Denver's mannerisms toward Beloved.  She is extremely possessive of her sister, not allowing Sethe to assist in caring for the young woman when she is ill.  She treasures her time alone with Beloved while Sethe is at work in the restaurant more than anything in her life at that point.  She is driven by a hunger to know about the mysterious history of her sister; a hunger that cannot be satisfied by her responses to Sethe and Paul D's simple questions.  She furthermore appears to be completely devastated, throwing herself into a blinding and violent rage in the midst of the cold house, when she believes she has been abandoned by the third and most precious of her siblings.  It is an attraction that evidently lies in something more complex and difficult to understand than mere sisterly love; it lies rather in the unsettling sense of desperation on Denver's part to be essentially one with Beloved.

 

    Thus when the author reveals that, as an infant, Denver had taken "her mother's milk right along with the blood of her sister," (152) we are startled, but not necessarily surprised.  What are the implications of this?  Of course all siblings share the same family blood, but what does it mean for one to take that blood by means of the mouth?  This is in a way very similar to the taking of Christ's blood in the sacrament of communion.  The wine that Catholics drink symbolizes the blood of Jesus, his death, and the consequent giving of himself to us and for us.  As a result, Catholics are expected, according to their religion, to live their lives in the ways of Christ, striving ultimately to be one with him; to hunger for him.   Denver, as a very young and innocent child, had desired the milk of her mother and instead had been fed the blood of her deceased sister.  Her hunger had been satiated by the taste of her sister rather than her mother; an everlasting tie had been formed.

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  Tragically through this, which we as outsiders alone are able to see, we know that Denver can never be truly satisfied in her desires.  What she longs for is a place within her sister, a place that is simply not within her reach.  She had not known it then, nor is there any way for her to see it now: the seed of Beloved had been planted within Denver, and there it will continue to grow.


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