Beloved (Day 1)

Comment here for Beloved.  Since a lot of odd things go on in this novel, and a lot of questions go unanswered until later on, comment with something you’re confused about or unsure of in our first readings here.

As we progress through Beloved, I’ll group Morrison with several sets of writers.  We’ll start with some African-American novelists since WWII:
Ralph Ellison (novelist, major work Invisible Man)
Richard Wright (novelist and essayist, major work Native Son)
James Baldwin (fiction writer and essayist, major works Go Tell It On the Mountain and “The Fire Next Time”)
Alice Walker (novelist, major work The Color Purple)
Edward P. Jones (fiction writer, major work The Known World)
Chester Himes (novelist, major work If He Hollers Let Him Go)
John Edgar Wideman (novelsit, major work Philadelphia Fire)

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12 Responses to “Beloved (Day 1)”

  1. nmulet says:

    From the beginning, I wanted to know why Sethe’s daughter died. The book says that her throat was cut, but they never mentioned why. I also wasn’t sure whether I was misreading the story, but did Serge have sex with the engraver in exchange for engraving Beloved’s headstone?

  2. mhealy101 says:

    My biggest struggle with this novel is how there is a constant shift in time. At some points Sethe and Denver talk about Baby Suggs as if she is there and then a few lines later we learn that she has been dead for eight years. There were a few other times this happened and I would just get so thrown off.

  3. I that it is annoying how Morrison seems to leave parts out of the story. With many things unclear in the story so far.. I don’t understand how Paul D falls into the picture?… As for Denver, her character gives me the chills. Another part of the story that I am unclear of is ” Fucking Cows” did Morrison mean it literally? As I read, it seems that there is a story within the story, like when it talks about sweet home. Yet it is confusing for me to follow.

  4. I was gonna start by filling up the blog with question marks. It is difficult to keep up with who’s who in Beloved. I know that Sethe is the protagonist and she struggles with the horrible past on the “Sweet Home” plantation. What a peculiar name for something that is so terrible and that evokes such ghastly memories. It is also difficult to understand who is alive because of the jumping back and forth through time. At times it seems like most of the people (slaves) are dead but come back to life when Sethe and Denver start recollecting their memories. I am also struggling with the sense of who is in this family and how they ended up at this house on Blueston road. It also seems that our characters have different opinions of this haunted house. The only character that seems to relate to the ghost is Denver, Paul D. is frightened and fights back and Sethe seems disoriented becuase of her thoughts. The images of scars, which seem to be on all the characters back can maybe be interpreted as yes they are free from the plantation but the scars last forever and so do the memories of the struggling slaves. I can not imagine the transition from slave to freeman. I get the impression that yes it was brutal being a slave but at least they were together on a beautiful plantation. It reminds of people who get kidnapped and end up sympathizing with their captors. Overall a truly sad beginning with dehumanizing images.

  5. hamidah says:

    What I found very irritating is that how the novel started. I did not understand till later on what was going on. It was very confusing because the characters were talking about a baby ghost and I thought they were saying ghost stories or at least something like that. However, it was not a story. Their house was being haunted by Sethe’s daughter. Also, the author jumps around and you sometimes never know who is talking or what is going on. That was very confusing for me to understand.

  6. javeriasid says:

    The first thing that confuses me in Morrison’s story are the dissappearance of Baby Suggs sons, Howard and Buglar. Also the jump back and forth between the past and present. One minute the grandmother is dead, another instance where she is requesting color. Also I dont understand who is narrating the story Sethe herself or her daughter Denver.

  7. khaff88 says:

    It seems like Morrison has a tendency to leave parts out of the story. Beloved’s arrival is just strange in general, is it Sethe’s reincarnated daughter? There is a lot of evidence that could support it until she wants to have sex with Paul D. If she was a reincarnated child she wouldn’t be demanding Paul to do that. I’m confused with the ages between the murdered daughter and Denver. I’m assuming Denver was younger than the other daughter and Sethe didn’t have time to kill Denver. Also, there is no definitive timeline; Morrison tends to jump around throughout the story from 124 to Sweet Home without warning the reader.

  8. jeanine says:

    What is confusing is Morrison I think throws at you so many characters. I mean it’s a bit distracting because if a random name comes up then I kind lose track of what’s going on. And even with the setting yes their in a house but Morrison brings the past then present so it just annoys me that I dont know exactly where these characters are at times.

  9. Jamie Rohr says:

    One thing that stood out to me in the reading of the section of “Beloved” was when Sethe was talking to Denver about the past in Chapter 3. On Page 44, she says that places still exist and “if you go back, if you go there and stand in the place where it was, it will happen again; it will be there for you, waiting for you.” I feel that maybe these feelings towards the past might be creating a sort of self- fulfilling prophecy. She is going to relive her past because it is inevitable if she expects it. I also wonder if the Ghost of her baby daughter is real or something she is creating in her head as a way to try and cling on the past that never really goes away. Is it possible, she is staying in this house that is “haunted” because she wants to relive her past? She doesn’t really want to let go of her baby so she has made a life with her?

  10. marissae17 says:

    One of the things that I am confused about is the setting of the story. It is hard for me to tell sometimes what is past and what is present. To me it seems that the author, Lori Morrison, keeps flipping back and fourth between the two. It would be easier for me if each chapter, or section, had its own setting, either past or present, but Morrison will randomly put a thought from the past in the middle of the paragraph which completely throws me off. I also don’t understand what Sweet Home is. I’m not sure if it is a plantation that they all used to work on together, or where they met, or if it is a place that still exists.

  11. GordonWTam says:

    Just one of the many confusing things about this book is the naming of the characters. Morrison has chosen to annoy me early in this fashion. I can understand why the Paul’s are named so, since they were all slaves at one point. They probably got renamed and got some normal names save the last initial for identification purposes. Sethe is a very manly name, and she is the main character. She chose Halle to bear children with, and that is a very effeminate name. The grandmother being named Baby Suggs doesn’t help either. Also.. Denver?

  12. cbergmann says:

    I am kind of confused by the setting of the book so far. I understand Sethe ran away from a plantation and now lives in a house called “124”, but how did Sethe purchase this house? Where did Sethe find work after slavery? It seems like it just appeared there after she gave birth to Denver. I am also confused by the last few pages of part I. Paul D talks about having a “bit” in his mouth that prevented him from talking to Halle when he met him by the churn. I am assuming it is something pretty bad because as hurt as Sethe was in that moment by the information she just found out, she finds it necessary to comfort Paul D about this “bit” in his mouth.