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Beloved Major Works Data Sheet AP Literature and Composition 1st Period Title of Work: Beloved Author: Toni

Morrison Date of Publication: 1987 Genre: Historical Fiction Characteristics of the Genre: Beloved is a contemporary novel with roots in black culture, music, and folklore. She combines joy and pain, laughter and tears, and love and death. She relies heavily on oral tradition and the slave narrative.

Historical Information about the Period of Publication:

Biographical Information about the Author:

The story takes place in 1857, the same year as the Dred Scott Decision, and a few years after the Fugitive Slave Act. It occurs a few years before the Emancipation proclamation

Toni Morrison, originally Chloe Ardella Wofford, was born in 1931 in Lorain, Ohio. She went to Howard University and graduated with a B.A. in English, and later received her Master of Ars degree from Cornell. She won the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

Plot Summary

At the beginning of the novel Paul D, a former slave whom Sethe has not seen since they worked at Sweet Home, shows up at her doorstep. He begins to integrate into 124 despite opposition from Denver, Sethe's daughter. Paul D finally begins to earn Denver's trust with a trip to a carnival, but on their return, they have an unexpected visitor. A young woman is on their porch. After prodding they find that her name is Beloved, which happens to be the only word on Sethe's dead daughter's gravestone. The ladies of the house bond while Paul D is pushed around from room to room by Beloved until he moves to the woodshed, where his interaction with Beloved culminates in her forcing him to have sex with her. A character from 124's past, Stamp Paid, tells Paul D about what Sethe did to her daughter years before, he doesn't believe it, but asks Sethe about it. When she confirms it, it is too much for him. He says "You got two legs Sethe, not four." before he leaves 124. Without Paul D's presence the girls continue to get closer until there is no room for Denver as Beloved takes over and begins sucking the life out of Sethe and 124. Denver must seek outside help, outside being very unfamiliar to her. She receives help from

several women throughout the Cincinnati community and eventually they make their appearance at 124 to offer substantial help. Beloved is exercised by the coming together of the community, Denver keeps a job with the Bodwins, and Paul D returns to Sethe's side to help with her burdens.

Description of Authors Style

Example that Demonstrates Style and Explanation:

Morrison makes heavy use of the present tense, even though the narrative takes place over 50 years. The author employs shifting voice, moving in and out of different characters thoughts. This creates defamiliarization for the reader. In section 2 there are 4 sections that represent the interior monologues of Sethe. Denver, and Beloved. The language here is highly repetitive and circular, and the style is a stream of consciousness. She uses numerous selfreflective metaphors.

Dehumanization of Slaves: Sethes milk being taken from her, School teacher spitting on Sethe and calling her an animal, Paul D counting Sethes Feet, the Iron Bit, The Rooster (symbol of how animal is freeer than Paul D) Naming: Baby Suggs being called Jenny, Stamp Paid changing his name, Paul D, Paul F, Paul A sharing names, name of Beloved Mother Figure: Mrs. Garner gives Sethe earrings, Lady Jones, Amy Denver nurses Sethe back to being able to escape, Sethe attempting to keep children from slavery. Baby Suggs towards community Community and Family; Halle bought his Baby Suggs out of slavery, The way Baby Suggs brought the community to The Clearing, Sethe was shunned by the community, Sethe sent her children ahead of her, Beloved served as representation of community The Burden of the Past: Paul D's heart, The "Chokecherry Tree" on Sethe's back, The supernatural spirits at 124, Stamp Paid showing the Newspaper to Paul D, The communities view of Sethe, Water/Liquid: Sethe milk being taken from her, Beloved coming out of the water, Sethe was in water when she spotted Paul D, The butter Halle was smearing on himself, Denver nursing Sethe's milk with her sister's blood

Themes Biblical Allusions: 28 days of happiness between freedom and the Misery. Time is a big component in the novel, specifically the past. The past pain is repeated with the Misery and the past is brought back with Beloved. There was a time to remember and a time to forgive. But forgiveness is temporary, just like Beloved. Sethe didnt forgive the community, so she shut them out. But there is a time for everything, even joining together in the hope of how it used to be, like the carnival. There is also a time to love, which Sethe doesnt understand, because her love is too thick. Paul D doesnt get his time right in hating seethe when she reveals the worst about herself Apostle Paul. As he prepares to visit Rome, he sends a letter stating his beliefs. He discusses the nature of Gods relationship with humanity and focuses on the sovereignty of God. He also raises the problem of the justice of God, power mixed with mercy, even if it leads to problems.

This chapter, despite its examination of the evils on Earth, ends with a note of reconciliation. The word beloved is one obvious connection to the book, in that Beloved is the murdered daughter that comes back. In a way, her coming back is an opportunity for Sethe to gain reconciliation for her sin and start to heal her huge burden. We see power mixed with mercy in the action of Beloveds death in that Sethe took it upon herself to save Beloved from hardship. This also suggests that Beloved is not who she is. Neither is the peace they find in the novel permanent, but leads to a bigger suffering. Lots wife is mentioned when Paul D is facing beloved wanting an intimate connection with someone. He says that he feels like Lots wife in that if he does this, he will be lost forever. And he is, because he loses what kept him sane- his tobacco tin around his heart. Since he feels the same desire to want to be connected with someone, he is lost too; just like Beloved. She wants the attention from Sethe that Paul D is getting. On page 202, Stamp Paid mentions pride goeth before a fall when he is describing the communities influence on him. It makes sense, because pride is what keeps Sethe from interacting with the public after the Misery. Stamp says that it is that statement that keeps him from realizing the effect that what he tells Paul D might have on Sethe and especially Denver. This quote is directly correlated with the events in the novel. Suggs takes pride in her feast, the Misery happens. Sethe is confident that Paul D will never leave, he calls her an animal. Other Themes: -Rememory -Humanity, Dehumanization -Power -Burden of Slavery

Characters Name

Role (What role does this person have in the story?)

Significance (Why is this character significant to the story?)



Kills her daughter so she wont be enslaved Sethes dead mother; Symbol of reconciliation and guilt; causes unrest in 124 Represents growth that freedom can cause Distraction from Beloved, companion for Sethe Voice of reason and cause for misery Gave freedom to Sethe, shows Paul D the newspaper clipping that unravels the family Leader of intervention for Sethe and Beloved Helps Denver provide for her family Gives slaves some human characteristics Gives Sethe earrings


Reincarnated daughter


Youngest daughter of Sethe Slave with Sethe at Sweet Home

Paul D

Baby Suggs

Halles Mother; grandmother; preacher Slave

Stamp Paid

Ella Lady Jones

Worked for Underground Railroad Teacher

Mr. Garner

Former slave owner of Sweet Home Wife of Mr. Garner

Mrs. Garner

School teacher

New owner of Sweet Home Helped free slaves

Akes Sethes milk, reason for Misery Help Denver in her time of need and bring Sethe back to sanity Laughs while dying

The Bodwins


Slave with Sethe, Halle, and Paul D Delivers Denver

Amy Denver

Saves Sethes life

Description of the Settings and the Mood the Settings Create:

Significance of the Opening Scene:

The setting is during the years before, during, and immediately after the Civil War. After it ended, life was still dreadful for black people, enslaved or free. The novels action is brief but the span is almost 50 years. The two major settings are Sweet Home in Kentucky and 124 Bluestone Road outside Cincinnati Ohio. Major Symbols, Motifs, Images Significance of Ending/Closing Scene

Sethe's Milk- Symbolizes the life she wants to give to others. Sethe is a desperate carer and they took away the only thing she identifies herself with. The Chokecherry Tree- Represents the fact that the burden of slavery stayed with her. Represents part of the central theme due to the fact that its a burden. Dying Roses- The person who planted the roses planted them in the hopes of making the place look prettier the dying of the roses reveals what the place looked like before in this way it represents the deterioration of the veneer of the happiness that Sethe worked so hard to maintain. Its an omen. Water- Symbolic of renewal, rebirth, and the miracle of life. Certain aspects of the book portray this: Denvers birth, Beloved appearing out of the water. Tobacco Tin- Represents his heart, rusted shut and hard. Wont allow for him to love things too much, as he says loving thickly he tells Sethe she should do the same.

Possible Questions for Discussion: