The following quotes are relevant to theme and character development. Page numbers refer to the Alfred A Knopf Edition (1987).:
Paul D: "Was it hard? I hope she didn't die hard."
Sethe: "Soft as cream. Being alive was the hard part. Sorry you missed her though. Is that what you came by for?"
Paul D: "That's some of what I came for. The rest is you. But if all the truth be known, I go anywhere these days. Anywhere they let me sit down."
|Sethe: "No more running-from nothing. I will never run from another thing on this earth. I took one journey and I paid for the ticket, but let me tell you something, Paul D Garner: it cost too much!"||?|
|Regarding Baby Suggs: "Nobody stopped playing checkers just because the pieces included her children."||23|
|Amy: "Anything dead coming back to life hurts"||35|
Sethe: "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".
Denver: "If it's still there, waiting, that must mean that nothing ever dies."
Sethe: "Nothing ever does."
|"To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay. The 'better life' she believed she and Denver were living was simply not that other one"||42|
|"For a used-to-be-slave woman to love anything that much was dangerous, especially if it was her children she had settled on to love. The best thing, he knew, was to love just a little bit; everything, just a little bit, so when they broke its back, or shoved it in a croaker sack, well, maybe you'd have a little love left over for the next one"||45|
|"But [Sethe's] brain was not interested in the future. Loaded with the past and hungry for more, it left her no room to imagine, let alone plan for, the next day"||70|
|Regarding Baby Suggs: "Because slave life had 'busted her legs, back, head, eyes, hands, kidneys, womb and tongue,' she had nothing left to make a living with but her heart-which she put to work at once"||87|
|Regarding Baby Suggs: "She told them that the only grace they could have was the grace they could imagine. That if they could not see it, they would not have it. 'Here,' she said, 'in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it"||88|
|"Freeing yourself is one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another"||95|
|Beloved: "I want you to touch me on the inside part and call me my name"||116|
|"What for? What does a sixty-odd-year-old slavewoman who walks like a three-legged dog need freedom for? And when she stepped foot on free ground she could not believe that Halle knew what she didn't; that Halle, who had never drawn one free breath, knew that there was nothing like it in this world"||141|
|"So Denver took her mother's milk right along with the blood of her sister"||152|
|"I was big, Paul D, and deep and wide and when I stretched out my arms all my children could get in between. I was that wide. Look like I loved em more after I got here. Or maybe I couldn't love em proper in Kentucky because they wasn't mine to love. But when I got here, when I jumped down off that wagon-there wasn't nobody in the world I couldn't love if I wanted to. You know what I mean?"||162|
|"Listening to the doves in Alfred, Georgia, and having neither the right nor the permission to enjoy it because in that place mist, doves, sunlight, copper dirt, moon-everything belonged to the men who had the guns. . . . So you protected yourself and loved small. . . . A woman, a child, a brother-a big love like that would split you wide open in Alfred, Georgia. . . . To get to a place where you could love anything you chose-not to need permission for desire-well now, that was freedom"||162|
|Sethe: "Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all"||164|
|Paul D: "You got two feet, Sethe, not four"||165|
Stamp Paid: "You can't do that, Baby. It ain't right."
Baby Suggs: "Was a time I knew what that was"
|Sethe: "Paul D convinced me there was a world out there and that I could live in it. Should have known better. . . . Whatever is going on outside my door ain't for me. The world is in this room. This here's all there is and all there needs to be"||183|
|"Once, long ago, she was soft, trusting. She trusted Mrs. Garner and her husband too . . . [believed] that for every schoolteacher there would be an Amy; that for every pupil there was a Garner, or Bodwin, or even a sheriff, whose touch at her elbow was gentle and who looked away when she nursed. But she had come to believe every one of Baby Suggs' last words"||188|
|"Schoolteacher beat [Sixo] anyway to show him that definitions belonged to the definers-not the defined"||190|
|"All of it is now it is always now there will never be a time when I am not crouching and watching others who are crouching too I am always crouching"||210|
|"You are my Beloved
You are mine
You are mine
You are mine"
|"Everything rested on Garner being alive. Without his life each of theirs fell to pieces. Now ain't that slavery or what is it?"||220|
|"For years Paul D believed schoolteacher broke into children what Garner had raised into men. . . . Now, plagued by the contents of his tobacco tin, he wondered how much difference there really was between before schoolteacher and after. Garner called and announced them men-but only on Sweet Home, and by his leave. Was he naming what he saw or creating what he did not?"||220|
|Paul D: "Tell me this one thing. How much is a nigger supposed to take? Tell me. How much?"
Stamp Paid: "All he can. All he can."
Paul D: "Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?"
|Baby Suggs: "There's more of us they drowned than there is all of them ever lived from the start of time. Lay down your sword. This ain't a battle; it's a rout"||244|
|"That anybody white could take your whole self for anything that came to mind. Not just work, kill or maim you, but dirty you. Dirty you so bad you couldn't like yourself anymore. Dirty you so bad you forgot who you were and couldn't think it up. . . . The best thing [Sethe] was, was her children. Whites might dirty her all right, but not her best thing"||251|
|"The future was sunset; the past something to leave behind. And if it didn't stay behind, well, you might have to stomp it out. Slave life; freed life-every day was a test and a trial. Nothing could be counted on in a world where even when you were a solution you were a problem"||256|