Blog Question 11/17

“They forgot her like a bad dream…It took longer for those who had spoken to her, lived with her, fallen in love with her, to forget, until they realized they couldn’t remember or repeat a single thing she said, and began to believe that, other than what they themselves were thinking, she hadn’t said anything at all” (323-324).

At the end of the novel, Beloved is gone, as mysteriously as she came. The quote above shows how it is almost as if she never existed. Why do you think Beloved is such an ephemeral figure? How, in this quote and in other instances, does Beloved’s existence seem to be predicated upon and reflective of those around her? In what ways is this not the case? And why do you think Morrison chooses to end the story with this disappearance and forgetting?

 

-Michaela

9 Responses to Blog Question 11/17

  1. Aly Thomas says:

    I think there is something about Beloved in the flesh that was inherently going to be temporary given the circumstances. It seemed that the end was eventually going to come, and that she’d eventually rest again since she was already killed once. Beloved’s existence (whether it be as a ghost or in the flesh) seems to be predicated on the energy around her. When she was missed and loved, the ghost stayed, then left because of Paul D, and came back when missed, then left again once Denver realized all three of them couldn’t stay there together, and Beloved’s abuse was making Sethe sick. In the same vein that we spoke of it today, the historical significance of the figure of “Beloved” carries so much pain, power, and confusion that the narrative almost couldn’t be carried in anything but a magical realist text. Although this is not science fiction, it reminds me a lot of when Junot Diaz talks about the work that science fiction can do with historical narratives.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with Aly. I think beloved must leave eventually because, similar to other ghosts narratives, she stays until her purpose and space is gone. She wanted to see her mother and protect her sister but when she realizes what she views as protect is hurting Denver, she leaves. Ghosts are generally either cast out or leave of their own accord, both happen to Beloved because Morrison is referencing this ghost narrative and is using it to convey deeper meanings and express something that as Aly stated is too difficult to explain with out the use of magical aspects.

    • Laura Katz says:

      Agree with Allie. Beloved had to leave at some point because ghosts often leave after their business on earth is finished. Beloved wanted to see her mother’s face again and protect her sister from her mother. However, when she realizes that what she perceives as protection is actually hurting Denver and after visiting with her mother she decides to leave. Ghosts are often passed out or leave of their own accord. Morrison uses these ghost narratives to express as Aly stated, something that is too difficult to express with out using magical elements.

  2. Noah says:

    I think it’s worth noting that Beloved doesn’t entirely disappear into thin air—there’s a rumor swirling about later on that some boy saw a naked woman running through the woods. This is worth thinking about because though the community has successfully dealt with the very real threat that Beloved imposed on Sethe, by overcoming their collective disdain for the residents of 124 and banishing Beloved, the problems facing them are far from gone. As a reader, I still felt a little bit of concern upon finishing the book, wondering if things were really resolved with Beloved.

    I can’t pretend to understand the many things that Beloved represents to 124 and the surrounding community, but I do know that, at least in the historical time-period that this is set in, things do not dramatically improve (socially, economically, politically etc.) for the African American community in rural Ohio, or the nation as a whole for that matter. If Beloved is a manifestation of some of these threats, then she is still very much out there.

    The myriad of problems represented by Beloved are not just going to go away—that being said, I think Morrison presents a viable solution for overcoming them. Collective empathy, made actual by very real acts (giving Denver food, and appearing together to banish Beloved) is the only way that this fragile community is going to endure their precarious, embattled position. There are many dark days ahead, but I think that together they will be able to endure.

  3. Ryan Spencer says:

    I think that this quote and this question are really interesting and are really really hard to understand. Especially with all the talk of rememory in this novel, it seems contrary to everything previous that Beloved should just disappear. Yet, she seems to. So I think it must be asked what makes Beloved different from rememory? What makes rememory permanent (or at least long lasting) and memory of Beloved finite and short?

    In the final chapter, Beloved seems slowly to fade but not to disappear completely. The second paragraph begins “everybody knew what she was called.” The memory of her is strong. From then on she fades. “Nobody anywhere knew her name,” then, “They forgot her like a bad dream.” And yet despite the repeated claims that she is forgotten, she seems to be there unmentioned directly: “occasionally, however, the rustle of a skirt hushes when they wake,” “sometimes the photograph of a close friend or relative… shifts,” “her footprints come and go.” I think Morrison shows Beloved, nameless but known, there but not there, constant but finite, fade into rememory. She becomes part of the past, unable to be an independent memory, but an additional part of the larger feeling of the rememory and the pain and suffering which will never quite fade.

  4. sydneyex says:

    I think that Beloved’s existence speaks to the ‘purpose’ of this novel, if we interpret the main storyline to be that of Sethe’s reconciliation of her existence as a black woman in this time. If we can understood the novel as functioning in this way, then we understand Beloved as the catalyst for the entire novel (which she, understandably, is). Until this point Sethe has quietly carried her emotions internally, and finally, upon Beloved’s return, she is able to be yanked out of ‘neutral’. You can argue that Paul D, and the glimpse of reality we get of the family at the carnival, would have been a favorable resolution, not requiring the need for Beloved whatsoever; however, even that reality fails to produce a deep resolution of the problem at hand. Before Beloved arrives Sethe seems happy, but she represses her problems, instead of facing them directly. It is ultimately her direct confrontation of Beloved that allows her to feel a deep and genuine sense of resolution.

    • LaShawn Simmons says:

      I agree with Sydney. The act of forgetting is just as powerful as remembering. The agency involved in both is undeniable. Perhaps, they forget the flesh of Beloved but not the memory. They are “forgetting” tangible memory but Beloved’s spirit lives on and binds the three as a family. Their future decisions whether they realize it or not are informed by the imprints of Beloved. Her physical presence is no longer felt and suppressed but the traces of her exist among all of them. This is especially true with Denver, Beloved’s time on Earth arguably thrusts Denver into womanhood and independence.

      • Conor Amrien says:

        LaShawn makes a great point when she says that Beloved’s spirit lives on and binds them as a family. I definitely agree that the act of forgetting can be as powerful as remembrance. I feel that Beloved has not necessarily vanished, rather she has been dispersed. I think it is important that in this quote it is her words that they cannot remember, not necessarily her. Beloved never got the chance to speak before she was killed, and then she was granted a certain degree of space. Now that the space she occupied has become dispersed among the family, Beloved no longer haunts the family, and instead she is “with” them. She is given voice through the words of those who survive her, like Denver and Sethe.

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