Beloved by Toni Morrison

Analysis of Part 5 (Chapters 10 - 12)

Most of Paul D's history is straightforward, but it is worthwhile to note the appearance of the Cherokee, an example of further injustice caused by racism in the world.

Paul D's seduction by Beloved is juxtaposed against the narration of his past. The most obvious implication is that Paul D, in being seduced by Beloved, is somehow confronting his own past. What was a "tobacco tin" at the end of chapter 10 is now a "Red Heart." By calling her name, like Beloved asks, Paul D accepts the past back into life. Paul D's initial reaction to "knock [Beloved] down" mirrors Sethe's "beating back the past," but in the end he succumbs to her and, implicitly, his own past.

However, though Beloved's presence is a healing one in this way, the picture the novel paints of her is not one of a benign spirit. Beloved's desire to seduce Paul D can be seen in two ways. On the surface, she is forcing him to betray Sethe. On a deeper level, she is asking him to impregnate her: "I want you to touch me on the inside part." Beloved is not truly flesh, being an incarnation of the past, but there is the implication that she can manifest in the present by carrying a child within her.

Beloved's rocking at the end of Chapter 12 is symbolic of the slave ship. She is, above all, a representation of the past in the present. She is the "sunlit cracks" in the cold house, filtering through into the present in bits and pieces. She is the darkness she points to, not truly here but ever-present.

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