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Beloved Close Analysis

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Throughout the novel Beloved, there are numerous and many obvious reoccurring themes and symbols. While the story is based off of slavery and the aftermath of the horrible treatment of the slaves, it also breaches the subject of the supernatural. It almost seems like the novel itself is haunted. It is even named after the ghost. To further the notion of hauntings, the characters are not only haunted by Beloved at 124, but they are haunted by their past, and the novel is not only about ridding their home of the ghost, but releasing their hold on what had happened to them in worse times.

Obviously, Sethe is the most dramatically haunted throughout the book, both by her past and by Beloved. As far as her past is concerned, so many things had happened to her and by her, it'd be impossible to not be haunted by something. For starters, she was beaten so badly that her back has a permanent blossoming scar, one that she calls a "chokecherry tree. Trunk, branches, and even leaves. Tiny little chokecherry leaves. But that was eighteen years ago. Could have cherries too now for all I know" (16). The significance of this obscene scar on her back has much to do with the fact that it is just one more thing she cannot see, but knows it is always there. Also, the line "Could have cherries too now for all I know" may show that she understands that she is not only stuck with her past, but it is growing and feeding off of her. This gives a sense of foreshadowing into the ominous past brought to light with the return of Beloved and the stories of Sweet Home exchanged between Sethe and Paul D.

The most obvious haunting of the story is that which the story revolves around - the haunting of 124. Beloved's presence is apparent to Sethe, Baby Suggs and Denver, and they live with it for some time. It is not until the day that Paul D steps into the house that things change. He wastes little time in antagonizing the spirit to leave. "God damn it! Hush up! Leave the place alone! Get the Hell out!" (18). And with that, the spirit is gone, much to Paul D's delight but Denver's horror, as Beloved was her only companion. This may be significant as Paul D is not only a figure from Sethe's past, but also he is the first man to really enter 124 on their behalf. His actions as a "savior" only contrast the haunting.

There is little that Beloved does not do to disrupt life in 124. She seizes Sethe and tries to make her her own. One way to look at Beloved is like that of a vampire: sucking the life out of all close to her. She sucks the life out of Denver with her insane jealousy - both of Denver and Sethe's relationship, and also the simple fact that Denver survived when Beloved did not. Beloved also seizes Sethe, making her her own before sucking the life out. "I am Beloved and she is mine" (210).

Beloved was able to play off of Sethe's own haunting of her past to get what she wanted. Sethe's judgment was obviously clouded as she focused primarily on the daughter she had murdered years ago. Beloved made demands, ridiculous ones. "Anything she wanted she got, and when Sethe ran out of things to give her, Beloved invented desire" (240). Sethe wound up quitting her job, completely neglected Denver to the point that she moved out of the house, and completely neglected herself, dwindling down to bones as Beloved ate them out of house and home. The analogy of a vampire could also be used in the sense that Beloved drained Sethe's physical body with her needs and demands.

It also seems somewhat significant the word choices that the characters say when talking of the past. It's clear they don't forget, and could never forget, their past and what had happened to them. So rather than forget, they "disremember." They push it to the back of their mind where they won't think about it, but it is always there, waiting for them to "rememory" it.

It could also be said that the readers themselves are haunted



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