Beloved by Toni Morrison

Analysis of Part 12 (Chapters 27 - 28)

Sethe's attack upon Mr. Bodwin is most likely caused by a belief that he, a white man, is arriving to take away herself and her children. This scene under the hot summer sun parallels the murder years ago, except for one crucial difference: instead of killing her daughter, Sethe chooses to kill the white man. In a way, her penance has been paid. It is also a sign that Sethe has decided not to endure the injustices leveled against her.

Beloved's disappearance hearkens back to chapter 14, when she tells Denver of her difficulties keeping together and that she needs Sethe by her side. Here, Denver and Sethe have both run out towards the community, leaving Beloved behind. In a way, they are rushing towards the future the community holds, leaving no room for the past in Beloved.

The character of Paul D finds resolution when he comes back to 124. This is the first time he has come back to a place he fled from, and the action symbolizes an end to his running. He has finally found time to live in the present, as is reflected by his stopping outside the shed to admire the flowers; the tobacco tin has been emptied, and he no longer has to flee the past. What is missing in 124 that is "larger than the people who lived there" is history. The past is gone, and into the house Paul D brings the present.

Sethe, however, remains consumed by the past when he enters. She dwells upon the ink schoolteacher wrote in his notebook in, and comments that she doesn't have any plans. Paul D assures Sethe that they will make a tomorrow for themselves, while simultaneously teaching her to take care of herself: "You your best thing, Sethe. You are." This teaching mirrors Baby Suggs's ("love your flesh"), and in a way Sethe's eventual emergence from the bed (which we hope will happen) gives a resolution to Baby Suggs's plight. Though Baby Suggs never got up after being defeated, there is a sense that Sethe will, to endure what there is to endure.

A resolution for Beloved also takes place in these two last chapters, first when Sethe chooses not to kill her a second time, and also when the epilogue pronounces that "there is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up; holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship's smooths and contains the rocker." The description is one of a womb, not a cramped slave ship. The past has been forgotten.

The disremembering of Beloved is an affirmation of the future-a seeing past the Sixty Million. It is a hopeful prospect. "It was not a story to pass on," reads the final motif. It should not be passed on, partly because the story is a grotesque one and partly because it reeks of the past. However, the story is passed on, in the form of the novel itself. Morrison, like many of her predecessors, cleverly displays a consciousness of her own writing. The novel itself is a reminder of the past and a place, according to Morrison, "where these things can be released, thought and felt."

The final "Beloved" gives beautiful resolution to the novel. It is the calling of her name, an affirmation of love, and a tribute to a people.

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