Beloved: The Last Chapter

Toni Morrison's narrator was expressing the confusion "she" caused in the lives of everyone, the changes made because of her, and the emotional trauma Beloved caused. The narrator's every word is a contradiction to the ones before it. It says "THERE is a loneliness that can be rocked." Rocking is associated with comfort, calming, soothing thought, like a baby being rocked to sleep by its mother. Then it says "there is a loneliness that roams; no rocking can hold it down." Loneliness is loneliness; sometimes it's stronger than others, but always it can be rocked, so to speak. The baby is the baby; sometimes the mother must rock it for a longer time than others, but it is still the same baby.

The narrator says they forgot about Beloved, but no one did. Deep down, they all remembered her. Lines 25-26 mention a rustling skirt and brushing knuckles that people convince themselves that they are not "her." But she is always in the back of their minds. They can shove her into the furthest, darkest corner, but she will remain there and not disappear. The narrator is trying to convince itself and anyone reading that what happened was not to be passed on. It is refusing to talk about it, saying "It was not a story to pass on" twice. But finally, after mentioning an analogy concerning the picture of a loved one, the narrator admits the story impacted her and that it, nor anyone else, has not forgotten. The narrator says "This is not a story to pass on." Instead of referring to Beloved and all she accomplished in her life and death as a far away, distant, forgotten thing, the narrator allows itself to be drawn back into the past.

In one line, the word "THERE" is capitalized. This is without doubt for emphasis. Was the narrator attempting to say "THERE" as in a specific place, or "THERE" as in the general world of humanity? "THERE" as in 124, or "THERE" as in America, the world, the universe? 124 would make the most sense. Beloved was there for most of her short life. But the mother/daughter love, the regret, pride, and guilt expressed in the relationship between Sethe and Beloved, and even Denver, is not specific to just them. They are symbols of emotions conflicting and dwelling on the past, of minds stuck so far in yesterday that they don't care about tomorrow. Perhaps capitalizing one word enabled all this to be said with simplicity.

Line 13 and 24 refer to Beloved as a bad dream. But in the beginning of the book, Beloved is a blessing to Denver, a wonderful dream come true. Once Denver is able to step out of her head and into the real world, she realizes Beloved is no good for anyone.

Line 35 says "not a breath of the disremembered...". Not forgotten, but DISREMEMBERED. The memory was forced out of the brains of the people who knew her, the memory reversed. She was not willingly forgotten. She was pushed roughly away. In the beginning, Beloved was remembered rather fondly, although what Sethe did to her was most definitely not. Perhaps the remembering is what kept her alive and able to come back to 124. After Beloved is gone for the second time, Sethe says "I lost my best thing," and she keeps reliving her time spent with her. If Sethe had continued to dwell on thoughts of Beloved, there would be a chance of Beloved returning once again. So by forcing her out of everyone's minds, the community would be saved from her in the future. Sethe would have the opportunity to forgive and forget, and hopefully move on.

Line 6 makes an interesting statement. "Everybody knew what she was called, but nobody anywhere knew her name." This could mean two things. Everyone called her Beloved, but that wasn't truly her name. It was just a word Sethe had engraved on her headstone. But no one knew her name, and no one could, because she didn't have one. Or it could be more than that - everyone had an idea of what she was and why she was, but no one knew for sure.

Toni Morrison's narrator uses words vague enough to have double and triple meaning to simplify her writing and make it personal for every reader. The story can be interpreted in numerous ways, depending on the mind set of the person reading. If different words had been used, this would not be possible.

The "essay" I wrote on the book:


the fields of flowers. they're beautiful.
they're not yours.
yes they are. i have life.
you have responsibility. and you belong to me because life should have belonged to me.
i take the fields away from you. why

because I can. and with justification. it is my right.
i gave birth to you, and i know this life. it was, then, my right as well.
no no no no no you had no right. you didn't kill yourself.
your young life had no payments due, and mine did.
does. you took my life. sweet retribution.
does my intent mean anything? it is not your intent that i'm interested in. if you had not killed me, then it would have been your intent that damned or blessed you. but your intent, know that you have acted, means nothing.
Actions do not speak louder than words- actions are more frequently misunderstood.
from your actions i see only the results, so your "words" do not make my situation better. i did not have the option of life. you did not have the option of my life, but you had the ability to force my life to this.
ability does not mean right. rationalization does not make right.
i did that in the past. this is the future. i've suffered for you, i've paid you back-- it was the past.
i see only the past. my life is nothing but what happened in my past. you cannot rid me of what you have done, and i will not rid you of what you have done.
you do not have to rid me of what i have done. i just ask that you not recreate it.
come now. you think i would exist without your regret? don't try to convince me. convince yourself.
i am what you think i am. what is the ghost of a dead child?
then leave me alone. i have suffered more in life than you have in death.
you sinned because you believe you have. i dare you to stop believing in your mistakes.
you say i am faultless without my past, and nothing without my past.
accept me. I want you to realize that you torment yourself. to whatever end truth brings us, at least know your conscience makes you alive. You brought me here, and you reminded me to be here. Which is worse- my wrath or the fact that you have the ability to end my wrath?

1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

I have killed. This is the righteousness, for not only have I spared a miserable life, I take responsiblitly for the wrongness of my actions. Forgive me oh Lord, for I have sinned.

4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

I will remember my sins, and my community shall punish me as well. This is just and good, as is Your way. Forgive me oh Lord, for I have sinned.

5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

I have remembered my sins, I have been miserable. Judgement came and went, oh Lord, have mercy upon on my soul. I have payed my debt. No, forgive me oh Lord, for I repent.

8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. Revelations 6:

You fight sin with sin. I have not only my repentence, but still your wrath. Forgive me oh Lord: I realize what I have done. Forgive me oh Lord: I have suffered. THAT WASN'T YOU? IT WAS ME? aw hell. You don't care that I have suffered without you?

Well, that's why I gave you free will and all. The ability to repent, simply to spare yourself of Hell and my unhappiness with you... where's the value in that? It's all up to you. You sin with my name on your lips, and you shall thus die with my damnation upon your life. Try being genuinly repentent, for other reasons than to please me. Go ahead, please yourself. Leave judgement in my hands. I find this far more forgivable. Sin while speaking your own name, and repent without the threat of forgiveness. And there you will find my loving embrace. I may exist, but certainly my cruelty is only in your mind. The first and second are you, the third is judgement, and the fourth my vengence.
So what is this guilt plaguing you? Stop, or I might begin to believe that I exist.
Your devotion to me is your devotion to yourself. You need not see me in life, for misery will follow after or not at all. I am independent of you, if I exist at all. You love me because I am what you have seen, or thought you had seen, and you feel my forgiveness comes with your suffering. You can choose to run away from me, will choose to run away from me, and I shall leave. Your women will not drive me off, for they simply offer you a chance to leave me for life. Stop wanting me. Or shut the hell up about it. Don't worry, because the novelty of unhappiness will wear off.

This is not story to be passed on?
my sweet Beloved
they may forget you, but you will always come back. we love you, for we love ourselves.

Beloved is a 1987 novel by Toni Morrison. It is about the escape from slavery in the South of a woman, Sethe, with her children to the home of her freed mother-in-law Baby Suggs in Ohio, and their lives there. Two sons have grown up and disappeared, but youngest daughter Denver is in her late teens and still with her mother and grandmother when past memories come back in human form. First Paul D, who Sethe knows from her days on the plantation, and then a young woman known only as Beloved who may be a somehow-reincarnated version of Denver's older sister, who Sethe murdered as a toddler when slave catchers came to take the family back to the plantation. Much of the novel is told in flashback to "Sweet Home," the plantation where Sethe met and loved Baby Suggs' son Halle, or to Sethe's earlier days in Ohio.

The book is based on the story of a real woman, Margaret Garner, and has won many awards including the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, 1988. A movie was made out of it in 1998, directed by Jonathan Demme, with Oprah Winfrey as Sethe and Danny Glover as Paul D., but no movie could ever have the depth that the book has. The book tends to change to a different setting, time, or narrator without warning; it can be a difficult read, but it's worth it.

Here is my recently written essay on Beloved. It takes a creative approach - bless. “What it is to have no home in this place. To be set adrift from the one you knew. What it is to live at the edge of towns that cannot bear your company.” - Toni Morrison (Nobel Lecture, 1993) Morrison’s Beloved and Hip Hop / Holiness

Beloved is troublesome. It is a story of struggle, persistence, death, and rebirth. It is a legacy written in the fluids of the body. It is a story of stories. It combines the African elements of Celebration, the African-American spirit of isolation, the universal Human Culture of hope, and the American aspiration of Freedom.

Hip Hop is troublesome. It is the Congo Square of poets, preachers, revolutionaries, and poverty. It is the aftermath. Beloved’s child. It combines the Olatunji drum rejoice, the smoked drawl of Gil-Scott Heron, the universal Human Culture of protest, and the American aspiration of Equality.

Toni Morrison’s work is thru this lens as well. It is a unique and unparalleled nature. Her work is said to infuse the multi-dimensional flavor of the Black experience. Her words are dark, tight, musty. Her rhythm is held in between praise and bop, attitude / beatitude, hip and hop.

Page 73: Sethe rubbed and rubbed, pressing the work cloth and the stony curves that made up his knee. She hoped it calmed him as it did her. Like kneading bread in the half-light of the restaurant kitchen. Before the cook arrived when she stood in a space no wider than a bench is long, back behind the and to the left of the milk cans. Working dough. Working, working dough. Nothing better than that to start the day’s serious work of beating back the past.

Sethe is a character that deems her work holy. She is a slave to menial labor. However, she is one who takes the unacknowledged and transforms it into the sacred. The unconscious reader will fail to connect Sethe’s mission to sanctify her work. This passage frames Morrison’s own consecration, to comfort ‘those who sleep in the dust’, to bring beauty to a land where her own skin is said to be ungodly, unclean, and sadly animalistic. Sethe is the laborer-matriarch of a people, embodied through the metaphors of their collective condition. Sethe is given the power to hallow their existence as Black.

Black Eyed Peas - Be Free Oh my goodness, I know you feel the vibration Across the globe no matter your location Ain't no difficulty or complication Just as long my niggas in the celebration Celebrated the musical liberation The Peas then demonstrated the demonstration And you will feel the flush of relaxation I'ma wax these and then get heavy rotation I got you in bliss and ain't no aggravation When you bump us, we bring the stimulation So hurry up and get your daily fixation But make sure that it's handled, it's a moderation One dose should bring you to a limitation So put your back into it, baby, that's right, huh I'm about to plug in some dedication This goes out to my brothers and my coalition

Hip Hop is a force that proclaims culture supreme. It is a slave to monetary rewards but slowly draws back to its soul. The soul of hip-hop is aware of the present struggle. Consciousness in Hip Hop is embodied through the organic and deeply rooted power of poetry and drum. Toni Morrison, with her rhythm and verse, agrees with this African quality to Blacks Arts. Hip Hop and Beloved unite in their efforts to work their history of struggle into creative expression. Hip Hop unites Morrison in beating back the past, much like Sethe does with kneading her dough.

Page 118: To go back to the original hunger was impossible Luckily for Denver, looking was food enough to last. But to be looked at in turn was beyond appetite; it was breaking through her own skin to a place where hunger hadn’t been discovered. It didn’t have to happen often, because Beloved seldom looked looked right at her, or when she did, Denver could tell her own face was just the place those eyes stopped while the mind behind it walked on.

It is reasonably accurate to assume that Beloved is a spiritual entity. She represents the African-American identity. She translates the mystery of Blackness into a person. In a sense, Toni Morrison assists her White readers in understanding the intangible essence of Blackness by constructing the metaphor of Beloved. This poetic device ironically transforms this novel from a story into an education, a testament to a people that can be presented as a cross-cultural adventure as well, showing the tangible aspects of Black humanity to a non-black audience. Morrison’s Beloved, in this sense, parallels the mission of Hip Hop.

White people purchase approximately seventy-five percent of hip-hop albums bought in this country. Hip-Hop music is the living bridge between White and Black America. It brings the Black, Hispanic, and Immigrant population’s identity to those who live outside it’s realm. Hip-Hop music is a living testament to cultural relations. It has progressed as American Culture moved, walking the streets of Newark and Morrissania, and now rolling along the streets of Bridgeport and Trumbull. It is Black and it is urban, but it is also a collective cry for help. Hip Hop never has proclaimed its task, but one knows Hip-Hop is the elaborate voice of a united mission to improve everyone’s lot in life.

DJ Common Sense - The 6th Sense I start thinking, how many souls hip-hop has affected How many dead folks this art resurrected How many nations this culture connected Who am I to judge one's perspective? Though some of that shit y'all pop true it, I ain't relating If I don't like it, I don't like it, that don't mean that I'm hating I just want to innovate and stimulate minds Travel the world and penetrate the times Escape through rhythms in search of peace and wisdom Raps are smoke signals letting the streets know I'm with 'em For now I appreciate this moment in time Ball players and actors be knowing my rhymes, it's like...

Beloved is this exact declaration. It pulls Blackness out from under the shame and desecration of White America and raises it into the privilege of faith and consecration. Fifteen years after Beloved was published, the youth continue to love its mission to resurrect the beautiful and poetic figure of the African American spirit.

Beloved reminds the African American of the African American, the Native American of the Native American, the European American of the European American, the Asian American of the Asian American... The Human Race is reminded of itself.

“Space ain't man's final frontier. Man's final frontier is the soul, guided by someone more powerful than any human being Someone felt but never seen. You will be surprised of what resides in your insides...” - Arrested Development.

Be*loved" (?), p. p. & a.

Greatly loved; dear to the heart.

Antony, so well beloved of Caesar. Shak.

This is my beloved Son. Matt. iii. 17.


© Webster 1913.

Be*lov"ed (?), n.

One greatly loved.

My beloved is mine, and I am his. Cant. ii. 16.


© Webster 1913.

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