Justin VieiraJanuary 23, 2000
“Inside, two boys [Howard and Buglar] bled in the sawdust and dirt at the feet of a nigger woman [Sethe] holding a blood-soaked child [Beloved] to her chest with one hand and an infant [Denver] by the heels in the other. She did not look at them; she simply swung the baby toward the wall planks, missed and tried to connect a second time…” (page. 149).
One of the first things a baby sees when they are born is their mother. A baby can be certain their mother loves them more than anything because they are of the same flesh and blood. What is a baby to think when their own “face” decapitates them with a hacksaw? It is only natural for the baby to be confused as to how to react to that woman that is suppose to love them. Toni Morrison includes a stream of consciousness chapter in Beloved to express Beloved’s confusion about everything she sees as a baby.
Without reading the chapter, the first observation made is the lack of punctuation. Even though Beloved is physically a women, she has many childlike qualities. Beloved has skipped the developmental period between birth and adulthood. “how can I [Beloved] say things that are pictures” (page 210). Beloved only sees things as a baby does. For this reason, she does not know how to form sentences. The only word that is consistently punctuated correctly is “I.” The only thing that Beloved is truly sure about, is herself. Everything else has the power to deceive her.
“we are all trying to leave our bodies behind the man on my face [Halle] has done it it is hard to make yourself die forever” (page 210). Beloved has been amongst the living and the dead. According to her, the purpose of life is to become dead. Halle, the man on her face, has accomplished this through disappearing. Nobody knows anything about him, so he is as good as dead. Contrarily, Beloved has always been on Sethe’s mind. Killing her own daughter is memory that she can not forget. Beloved is brought back to life because she can not be forgotten. “What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head” (page 36). It is impossible to forget the memory of Beloved because she was murdered in the shed right outside 124Bluestone Road. The memory stays right in the place where it happened. Halle’s death is back in Sweet Home since he never made it to 124Bluestone Road. Sethe has never gone back to there, so she can not pass by the place to bring back her rememory and so he stays dead.
“her [Sethe’s] face is my own and I want to be there in the place where her face is and to be looking at it too” (page 210). Earlier in the chapter Beloved wants to be with her mother. She misses Sethe because, even after all Sethe has put her through, she is still her mother. She wants to look up to that familiar face that can be recognizable as her own. As Beloved thinks more about Sethe, her tone changes, “the woman is there with the face I want the face that is mine” (page 211). Beloved no longer wants to look up to Sethe, but to control her. This is what ends up happening when Beloved comes back to 124Bluestone Road. “The bigger Beloved got, the smaller Sethe became…” page (250). Beloved gained the power to control Sethe and seek her revenge. It was Beloved’s way of paying Sethe back for her actions and Sethe would do nothing to prevent it, because she knew she disserved it. “if I had the teeth of the man who died on my face I would bite the circle around her [Sethe’s] neck” (page 211). Beloved’s tone switches again because she is not sure how to feel towards her mother. Beloved wants to free her mother from the collar that slaves wear. This is a parallel of Sethe killing Beloved in order to free her from slavery. Sethe slit Beloved’s neck, where as Beloved wants to free Sethe. Ironically, the baby has a better solution than the mother does. Obviously, Mother does not always know best.
“she [Sethe] is going to smile me she is going to” (page 212). Beloved is sure that she will see her mother again. She expects Sethe to come for her. Beloved is dead at this point, so in order for Sethe to come to her; Sethe must die. “they [white people] push my own man through they do not push the woman with my face through she goes in” (page 212). White people led Halle through his life all the way until his death. However, Sethe escaped slavery and was able to lead her own life. Beloved was counting on Sethe to be captured in the shed. “she [Sethe] was going to smile at me she was going to” (page 212). Beloved expected Sethe to die earlier, like Halle, if she became a slave again. Instead, Beloved realizes that Sethe will not come to her and she will have to seek out her mother herself.
“ I wait on the bridge because she [Sethe] is under it” (page 212). Beloved is above the ground watching over Sethe. Sethe is down on the ground and Beloved must go down there because she needs Sethe. Sethe helps Beloved be reborn, “I go it the grass opens she [Sethe] opens it I am in the water and she is coming” (page 213). Sethe brings Beloved back to life through rememories. Beloved is reborn through the water.
Throughout this chapter Beloved is confused as to how she fits in to her mother’s life. Sethe gave birth, killed, and then brought Beloved back from the dead. It is difficult for Beloved to know where she stands. Beloved intended to kill Sethe, but could not do it because Sethe is acting like a loving mother since her daughter has been brought back to life. The person that once killed her now cares for her more than anything in the world and Beloved does not know how to react to that. She wants to kill Sethe, but cannot.
Justin VieiraJanuary 23, 2000