Beloved by Toni Morrison

Analysis of Part 8 (Chapter 19)

124 was loud. The loudness is intended to contrast the opening "124 was spiteful." Here the spite is alive-it is, as Stamp Paid realizes, the roar of "people of the broken necks, of fire-cooked blood and black girls who had lost their ribbons." What roars is the dead, the injustice dealt to more than Sixty-Million, all alive in Beloved. The loudness betrays a sinister part of Beloved which has not yet surfaced.

The skating the three girls take part in, though full of laughter and fun, is constantly interrupted by the motif that "nobody saw them falling." This motif is juxtaposed against Baby Suggs's advice to "lay it all down." But laying things down doesn't mean falling, and there is a feeling that Sethe has taken the advice a bit too far, especially with regards to being late to her work.

There is also symbolic significance in the twenty-eight days following her escape from Sweet Home in which Sethe has "women friends, a mother-in-law, and all her children together." Twenty-eight days is the length of the lunar month, and also the menstrual cycle. The implications here are that both these cycles stopped with Beloved's murder. With the end of the menstrual cycle is the end of Sethe's motherhood; with the end of the lunar cycle, which has ties to the charms and mystery of femininity, is the end of Sethe's womanhood.

Another symbol of importance is created by the constant reference Sethe makes to "us three," meaning Denver, Beloved, and herself. These three women make up a trinity of sorts, except unlike the Biblical one they are female instead of male, black instead of white. The implications are far-reaching, but the two most prominent are that the three women possess a certain strength among them and that they are inseparable.

We learn here that Baby Suggs was broken both because "they came into [her] yard," meaning the four horsemen, and also because "she could not approve or condemn Sethe's rough choice." The first part once again brings up the ambiguity of Baby Suggs's freedom, one in which white folks are allowed to violate the sanctity of her house. It reminds Baby Suggs that her beating heart is not truly hers to own. The second cause develops the theme of moral ambiguity even further-both of the choices open to Sethe on that hot day would have resulted in loss. Baby Suggs no longer knew what was right or whether love was worth it, and thus couldn't go on Calling.

The stream of consciousness writing, which takes up the latter part of chapter 19, reflects Sethe's state of mind, which is full of thoughts that were never there before. She perceives herself as being liberated from the past, and now has free reign of her head. However, by pronouncing that "I ain't got to remember no more," Sethe reveals that she thinks the past is gone, which is clearly not the best way to live.