Beloved by Toni Morrison

Analysis of Part 2 (Chapters 2 - 4)

Sethe and Paul D don't have sex because they realize suddenly that this isn't what they need. Sethe needs a future-needs to focus her effort on something besides a present of avoiding the past. Her life is devoid of all plans: "To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay." Paul D, similarly, has for the first time realized that "he had shut down a generous portion of his head, operating on the part that helped him walk, eat, sleep, sing." It is with Sethe that the rest of his head is awakened, and he desires more than sex.

The theme of freedom's ambiguity is developed in the tale of Baby Suggs. Suggs was given freedom, but all of her sons were sold, and she was not able to love them. Is that freedom? Similarly, Sethe has found freedom, but she is still chained by the past: "The 'better life' she believed she and Denver were living was simply not that other one." Freedom by itself seems rather devoid of meaning. Finally, Denver, though technically free, does not feel that way. She finds herself most "alive and free" when enclosed by bushes, shielded from the "hurt of the hurt world."

The theme of memory is developed in this section with Sethe's description of "rememory": "It's so hard for me to believe in [time]. Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. . . . But it's not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it's gone, but the place-the picture of it-stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world." Part of Sethe's problem is that she is consumed by the past-she feels that her past experiences as a slave are waiting for her children.

Paul D's arrival, in which he "broke up the place, making room, shifting it, moving it over to someplace else, then standing in the place he had made," is symbolic of his making room for the future. By exorcising the ghost, he manages to push the past away, at least temporarily.