Beloved by Toni Morrison

Analysis of Part 4 (Chapters 8 - 9)

In the opening of the section, Beloved speaks of the place from which she came: "Dark . . . I'm small in that place. . . . Hot. Nothing to breathe down there and no room to move." Her description is meant to evoke two things: a womb and a slave ship. The birthing image is easily apparent, but it is complicated by her description that there are dead people present. Again, Morrison is using Beloved as a symbol of the very real past of slavery. Beloved's command to Denver "never to tell me what to do" is the comment of a girl who has been bossed around too much. It is simultaneously the voice of a baby betrayed and a slave cruelly treated.

The character of Amy is intended, perhaps, to show that not all white people are cruel. On a deeper level, in her innocence Amy reveals that it is easy enough to overlook the color of a person's skin and treat the needy human underneath. The fact that the baby, Denver, could only be born through the cooperation of a white girl and a black woman, hints at the need for unification in our society if we are to achieve anything.

The heart which Baby Suggs speaks of is a symbol for living. It is what Paul D, Sethe, and Denver all lack. Paul D's life is sealed in a tobacco tin, Sethe's is buried in a past, and Denver has no one to love. The love of self and others, and the joy of living is what Baby Suggs calls for. The strangling of Sethe by the ghostly hands is symbolic of the ghostly past which is holding her back and threatening to overrun her.

Beloved's anger at the end of Ch9 over two turtles having sex mirrors her anger at Sethe and Paul D, who are also coming out of their shells slowly to touch each other. The dropping of her skirt into the water foreshadows a dropping of all pretenses and a determination to split the couple.

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