Facts Signifying The First Appearance Of Beloved
When Paul D, Denver and Sethe first come upon Beloved resting against a tree after emerging from the water, the three cannot understand the past or present of the girl in front of them. Rather than interpret her odd actions, each of them looks to a physical aspect of Beloved to act as a key to her soul. Even as Beloved comes home to stay within the first chapter of her appearance, the family takes note of her personality through her vague actions and her own fascination in small objects. Her background and her future is incomprehensible to them; therefore, small forays into her being must be gleaned by observation and slight questioning of her sickly movements. Morrison, by giving the reader inklings of Beloved’s true person, makes her all the more intriguing and mysterious through the strange connotations of the girl’s associated objects.
When Sethe, Denver and Paul D first saw Beloved, the only things they noticed were the objects surrounding her: “a black dress, two unlaced shoes below it” (51). As Paul D gives her water, Beloved drinks from the tin cup four times and leaves droplets on her chin?the cup and the drops acting as the two most noticeable aspects of her person. Sethe then notices her slender, under-fed body and the “good lace” (51) at her throat. She wears the hat of a “rich woman” and her skin was “flawless except for three vertical scratches on her forehead” (51), which are just the bare marks on the outside signifying nothing remarkable about her personality. For Sethe, the most noteworthy things about Beloved are her shoes and the lace at her throat?it is really Denver who tries to delve deeper into the soul of this odd, homeless woman.
When Sethe thinks to herself of Beloved’s background, she associates her with all the other blacks wandering, looking for cousins and reminders of home in a maze of streets and highways and country lanes. After this musing, Morrison has Sethe refer to her as “the woman with the broken hat” (53), another suggestion of her association with inanimate objects rather than prescient emotions. Sickly, Beloved falls asleep for days and days upon Baby Suggs bed while Denver watches over her attentively. She will eat nothing until the supposed bout of cholera breaks and she sits up, gesturing for the sweet bread. From then on, Beloved is associated with the sugar she consumes, rather than the words she speaks or the history she exudes. While she was ailing, “It took three days for Beloved to notice the orange patches in the darkness of the quilt” (54). At that point, Denver folds the quilt so that the orange bits are in Beloved’s line of vision. In this instance, the girl and her caretaker take pleasure in spots of cloth?unmoving objects?rather than a coherent example of personality or past.
After Denver hands her the sweet bread, Morrison writes, “It was as though sweet things were what she was born for” (55) and then adds a litany of sugary items that mark Beloved’s unnatural pleasure for sweets. This fascination with the taste of sugar once again does not open doors into Beloved’s past or present. Rather, the observation of this love of certain objects simply adds to her mystery and idiosyncrasy. Even towards the end of the chapter, Paul D associates Beloved with the strange effect of picking up a rocking chair?an object?though Denver denies it with her lying eyes. Her shoes, her hat, her taste for sugar and Paul D’s strange observation do not shed much light upon the strange character that is Beloved. Morrison’s foray into her character’s psyche leads the reader and the surrounding characters into the dark?her association with unmoving objects only solidifies her already strange existence.
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When Paul D, Denver and Sethe first come upon Beloved resting against a tree after emerging from the water, the three cannot understand the past or present of the girl […]