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.