Beloved: Week 1 Synopsis.

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This past week, we finally kicked off our reading and discussion, and we must say that our first dialogue was a success! The best way to dive into the beginning of a great book! Breaking down themes that were clearly noticeable and helping others to see different perspectives was definitely needed and we wanted to highlight some things that we did discuss, along with some ideas that we didn’t. We also have some tweets for reminding and acknowledgement!

Points to remember:

1. Morrison’s common theme in this first segment is a plethora of emotions around adversity. Desperation, grief, guilt, isolation, evil, heavy, sad, lonely, rebuked, etc. All these words lay the groundwork of how unfortunate our scenes are set, but in fact very powerful. 

2. Each theme or unsuitable situation is not only a reflection of the book’s time period, but the reality in our current events as well. Trauma from slavery, gender issues, motherhood, Black womanhood, truth-telling, spirituality, etc also bleeds through the world we live in today. 

3. Denver’s character is very interesting to observe. Not only does she manage the Beloved spirit in the house, but she is the realist in Paul D’s and Sethe’s relationship, along with the after effects of Sethe’s parenting. 

4. “Its not evil, just sad.”

5. “Anything dead coming back to life hurts.”

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Things that were not discussed:

Each week we have a small segment of something that was not mentioned on Sunday. This column is very important to us, as it attempts to shed more light and perspective to the book, providing us with a new angle in understanding the text. 

The Symbolism of the Chokecherry Tree


Photo Credit: Kelsey Otocki

We read in the text about Sethe scars on her back being her “Chokecherry tree”. Could this depiction of a tree be symbolism of the family baggage that she carries throughout “Beloved”? Besides the flashbacks of her experience in Sweet Home and the casual talks and conversations about Baby Suggs, could each scar have a meaning behind Sethe’s real story and truths? Moreover, can the idea of taking off the tough shell (her clothes) to reveal the horrible past and her current situations be the rhetoric behind the Black Woman and the reason for the pain and suffering in the Sethe character? What do you think?

Stay tuned for our sunday discussion followed by another synopsis next week covering our second portion (68-124 in hard copy, 97-205 pdf version) of Toni Morrison’s Beloved!



One thought on “Beloved: Week 1 Synopsis.”

  1. The symbolism behind the tree metaphor is very powerful. I’ve found 2 different interpretations of it, based on 2 different characters so far. I’m sure there’s plenty more to discover.
    First, Sethe. The scars on her back form a chokecherry tree, which will remind her until the end of her days of the horrible beatings and lynchings which happened at Sweet Home. But more importantly, these scars are also there to remind her of the family she never had (i.e. a family tree). She “married” Halle, but they never “claimed” each other. As slaves, they were not allowed to. That’s why she refers to her “husband” as a brother. She and Halle belong to the Sweet Home plantation, they are both slaves there, and the attackers left a permanent mark on Sethe’s back, to remind her of everything they never had: an identity, a family, a history. Sethe will forever be a slave. Their slave.
    Second, Sixo. Sixo is the character I am most intrigued by. He was definitely in tune with Nature and he spoke her language. He found Love and Freedom in the form of cooked potatoes and giant trees, long walks in the woods, and the sunsets/sunrises which were vital when it came to his calculations of time and distance. His interaction with Nature is indicative of his inner freedom. At one point, he refused to speak English anymore (which could be translated as a form of isolation or mental detachment), but he always had a special connection with Nature and she was his fuel, so to say.
    Roots. It all goes back to the lack of a family structure; a foundation. Even Denver is deprived of hers, and that’s why she is so interested in the ghost. She is desperate for a secure and stable connection with someone, or something. Paul D and even Sethe are somewhat numb already because of their past, but Denver is still young and curious.


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