Beloved, by Toni Morrison

Beloved, by Toni Morrison

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The novel Beloved, written by Toni Morrison, shows a family’s life before and after slavery. The main character, Sethe, escaped from slavery and had a daughter, Denver, while she was escaping. Although Denver never actually experienced slavery, her life has still been affected by it. Morrison uses Denver to show how although people can be affected by a life destructing experience such as slavery they do have the ability to move forward in life if they believe they can.
Before Beloved comes to 124, Denver was not able to learn much about the past because of Sethe’s inability to experience the past again. She feels left out because she is not involved. This causes her to consume herself in the events of the past. Denver also starts out very shy. When Paul D first comes to 124, he and Sethe reminisce about the past. Denver says, “How come everybody run off from Sweet Home can’t stop talking about it? Look like if it was so sweet you would have stayed” (17). Sethe replies, “Girl, who you talking to” (16). Sethe’s surprised tone shows this is not normal behavior for Denver and she is usually much more soft-spoken. Denver’s outspoken behavior comes from her frustration with her ignorance of the past. Denver also locks her self away from the rest of the world before Beloved comes. After the incident with Nelson Lord, Denver “never went back” to Lady Jones’ house (121). Denver was cut off from the outside world even more when “she walked in a silence too solid for penetration” (121). Denver’s hearing returned “by the sound of her dead sister trying to climb the stairs” (122). The dense diction used by Morrison shows Denver’s deafness was very powerful. Denver believes Beloved got her hearing back for Denver, which makes Denver look to Beloved to solve her problems later in the novel. This makes Denver and Beloved’s relationship even more powerful because something very strong had to happen to bring back Denver’s hearing and Beloved was it. Unlike the other characters in the novel, Denver refers to Beloved as an actual family member and not just a baby further connecting the two characters. Before Beloved returns to 124 in person, Denver has a connection with her spirit and she relies on her companionship.

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Not only does Denver rely on her companionship but also she relies on Beloved to save her.
When Beloved first comes to 124, she appears sick because of all of the water she is drinking. While Paul D and Sethe try to figure out what is wrong with her Denver says, “She’s not sick!” and Morrison says “the passion in her voice made them smile” (64). Once again, Denver, who is normally soft-spoken, speaks up further showing her commitment to Beloved. After Beloved had spent a few days at 124, Morrison says, “Denver was pleased because it kept her patient awake longer” (65). The use of the term “patient” makes it seem as though it is Denver’s duty to take care of Beloved. Denver also possesses Beloved as a patient further showing Denver’s devotion to Beloved. For the remainder of the novel, Denver continues to have a protective nature over Beloved as if she has no choice and it is her job. The arrival of Beloved makes Denver grow up. Morrison says, “Patience, something Denver had never known, overtook her” (65). Not only is Beloved a companion for Denver, but also she becomes her hope of a real family. Denver has always felt lonely and she looks to Beloved to fill the lack of family structure in her life. Denver says, “My sister come to help me wait for my daddy” (246). Denver also does not say that Beloved has come to wait with Sethe as well as Denver showing how she does not feel as though Sethe is actually her family. In Denver’s unspeakable thoughts chapter, Denver says, “This time I have to keep my mother away from her” (243). Denver believes Beloved came back for her because Beloved realized Denver needed her. Denver begins to focus more on the present and the possibility of a new life. This possibility of a new life and something to look forward to has caused her to grow up. Denver is no longer looking to the past but instead the future.
Beloved’s true intentions are shown in the last of the unspeakable thoughts chapters. Denver and Beloved talk in the last chapter and Denver says, “I will protect you” she then says, “Don’t love her too much” (255). Beloved responds and says, “I am loving her too much” (255). As the intermingling thoughts continue and the three women come together, Denver’s voice stops. There is only dialogue between Sethe and Beloved. Beloved does not need Denver to be in her life. She actually does not even want Denver there because it takes away from Beloved and Sethe’s relationship. The last part of the book begins with the three women at 124. Morrison says, “But once Sethe had seen the scar…the two of them cut Denver out of the games” (283). Sethe spent her days playing with Beloved and soon “Sawyer told her not to come back. And instead of looking for another job, Sethe played all the harder with Beloved” (283). Denver does not believe anything is wrong because Sethe is happy. The only thing Denver was concerned with was staying “alert for any sign that Beloved was in danger” (284). Due to Beloved’s demands, Denver realizes Beloved is a danger to Sethe. Throughout the novel, Denver has feared Sethe because Sethe murdered her own child and Denver believed she was capable of doing it again.
Denver’s realization that Beloved is dangerous shows how much Denver has grown up. Beloved has caused Denver end her childish behavior and become capable of making smart decisions. Her growth causes her to seek help within the community. After Denver asked for help from Lady Jones, “names appeared near or in gifts of food” (293). Before, Denver never left her house but now she is going out and asking for help. Denver is unlike Baby Suggs and Sethe because she was able to step outside of her confinement and into the community. Denver’s growth is also shown in the way she addresses Paul D. Denver says, “Good morning, Mr. D” (313). Denver also reveals that she “might go to Oberlin” (314). Denver would not have been able to change without the appearance of Beloved. Denver was able to move forward because she wanted to create a new life for herself. Although Denver thought she was looking forward to a life with Beloved, she continues to move forward even without Beloved showing Denver’s independence. This is a complete change from Denver’s earlier behavior because she was completely dependent on others especially Beloved.
Morrison uses Denver to show how although people who were not in slavery are affected by it, if they want to move forward they can. Denver’s will to change her current situation at 124 allowed her to do so. Before Beloved arrived, Denver was not living in the present. Beloved represents for Denver a hope of a new life which Denver believes in and that allows her to move on.

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