Beloved Essay

1362 words - 6 pages

124 was spiteful. A house haunted by the ghost of Sethe’s dead baby, 124 was filled to the roof with memories; hideous memories of their days in slavery. Sethe, who has been free from slavery for eighteen years now, is still bound by her awful memories of it. Her daughter, Denver, was too bound by the past, but Denver’s past never included slavery. Instead, Denver is enslaved by her fear of the world outside of 124 and the loneliness she encounters while at 124. With the help of her mother’s past and their present, Denver eventually looks past 124 and out towards the world, allowing herself to create her own identity.

Denver has grown up alone. When she was younger, 124 was filled with ...view middle of the document...

Tired and annoyed of Paul D’s presence at 124, Denver eventually flat-out asked Paul D “how long he was going to hang around.” She doesn’t want anyone competing with her for her mother’s attention. A part of Denver’s immaturity stems from her loneliness, but Denver also shows her immaturity through her self-perception and relationship with Sethe.

Throughout the novel, all of the characters have difficulty defining themselves. This destruction of self is due to the physical, emotional, and spiritual wreckage created by slavery. Although never experiencing slavery first hard, Denver has a difficult time defining herself. She constantly defines herself by her relationships. Denver holds Sethe’s past up on a pedestal, having the idea that Sethe’s memories are more valuable than the present; regardless of the fact that Sethe’s past is full of tragedy. The memories that Sethe recounts while with Paul D, Schoolteacher and Sweet Home, are absent of Denver’s presence and prove to be competing with Denver for Sethe’s attention. Because both Sethe and Denver dwell on Sethe’s past so much, Denver feels that she adds no value to Sethe’s memories and “hates the stories her mother told that did not concern herself.” Denver even wishes she were a part of Sethe’s past that included slavery, regardless of its brutality. The one story of Sethe’s past that involved Denver, the story of Denver’s birth, was not enough to please Denver in comparison to the rest of Sethe’s memories, which Denver believed to be “a gleaming [and] powerful world made more so by Denver’s absence from it.” To compete with Sethe’s memories for Sethe’s attention, Denver feels the need to act out immaturely in order to grab Sethe’s attention and control her.

When Beloved is forced into the lives of Sethe, Denver, and Paul D, Denver immediately clung on to Beloved. Denver took care of Beloved; “tended her, watched her sound sleep, and listened to her labored breathing…out of love and a breakneck possessiveness.” Even though Denver clung to Beloved, Beloved was captivated by Sethe. Being “licked, tasted, [and] eaten by Beloved’s eyes” Sethe was the object of Beloved’s fascination. Specifically enchanted by Sethe’s memories, Beloved wants to hear every story of Sethe’s past. Denver hates Sethe’s stories and “wanted Beloved to hate [them] too,” even though she knew Beloved would never hate them. Denver was willing to take away the one thing Beloved enjoyed the most, demonstrating that her yearn for Sethe’s attention would always overshadow any relationship she had with Beloved.

However, Beloved became malevolent towards Sethe, a parasite on her life, which has forced Denver to overcome her fears. All of her life, Denver has lived at 124 and “124 and the field behind it were all the world she knew or wanted.” Denver experienced life outside of 124 once...

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