Beloved by Toni Morrison

Analysis of Part 9 (Chapters 20 - 23)

Sethe's stream of consciousness reveals a disturbing retreat into her own world, where the past can't touch her. Unfortunately, there, she also can't be touched by the future. Paul D offered Sethe community and Beloved offers her the past in the present, and Sethe chooses the latter-isolation. Her stream almost entirely consists of things she wishes to tell Beloved; Beloved has become her present. Her thoughts also betray her insecurities, both about her mother as well as about her own ability to be a mother.

Denver's stream reveals a marked immaturity of thought for an eighteen-year-old girl. Like Sethe's, there is a dependence upon Beloved, which fits the notion of the unbreakable trinity. There is also a tendency for Denver to interpret everything as being related to herself. Baby Suggs's warning about the ghost serves to foreshadow darker times ahead for 124.

Beloved's stream, in its disjunct imagery, reveals her immaturity as well. Though she can speak, she is little more than that one-year-old girl who was murdered in the shed. She cannot distinguish her mother from herself, and she cannot distinguish a face from a location.

Much of the imagery in Beloved's stream is dedicated to the picture of the cellars of a slave ship, with implications that this is the place Beloved was before she was born. It is a horrible place-dark, with no place to stand and little food to eat. It is a place which reeks of death. On that ship there is no love: "there is no one to want me to say me my name." The water and the bridge described here are vague symbols of that birth, reflecting the literal crossing from the slave ship to land. There is a feeling that Beloved comes from death upon the ship into another type of death, on land.

The "hot thing" which surfaces incessantly in Beloved's stream of consciousness represents many things. Most literally, it is the heat of the ship. However, it is also love, the only way a one-year-old knows how to describe it. "I want her face a hot thing," she says. Like Sethe and Denver, Beloved reveals a possessiveness here: "I cannot lose her again," meaning Sethe.

The chorus is beautifully constructed, revealing the innermost desires of the three women. Most of the lines can be given distinct speakers. For example, the first section is a dialogue between Sethe and Beloved and the second between Denver and Beloved. Towards the middle the lines become blurred into a circle of possession and love.

The unity of the chorus finally breaks up at the end, and the mood is one of antagonism. "You forgot to smile," comments Beloved. "I loved you," answers Sethe. "You hurt me / You came back to me / You left me." When the final three lines "You are mine" are repeated, the mood has changed from love to desire. The words echo with selfishness, and the feelings they arouse are not pleasant ones. The shattered happiness of the middle of the chorus foreshadows the shattering of the trinity.

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