Friday, May 14, 2010

Beloved by Toni Morrison




Every week by Saturday morning...
* Read 100 to 150 pages.

* Write 300+ words a week in response to your reading.
* Respond analytically and personally to what you have read.
* Discuss the significance of at least one passage/quotation.
* Discuss the relationship between what you are reading and something(s) else you have read this year.
* Respond to a comment made by a peer (after the first week).

5 comments:

Sarah Al-Edwan said...

In Beloved by Toni Morrison the world of the supernatural has a lot to do with Sethe and her daughter Denver’s life. Her deceased daughter, who haunts her is not so much frightening as she is a nuisance. It seems that Sethe struggles with her memory. She does not want to remember Sweet Home where she was a slave, and recalling her daughters death seems to also be tragic for her. Sethe recalls when she had to trade sexual favors to get the word “Beloved” on her daughters tomb stone, which she mistakes to be towards her daughter when at the funeral the priest says “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today” Although it seems that Sethe is trying to forget her memories of Sweet Home she is reminded when Paul D, a member of Sweet Home comes to visit her. Apparently Sethe came there to replace Baby Suggs, an older women who lives with Sethe until she dies. All the men at Sweet Home partake in crude sexual activities with the farm’s cows in order to wait for Sethe to decided which man she would take. Sethe does not chose Paul D, but another man which we later find out is dead. During Paul D’s visit, he has sex with Sethe. It is clear that Paul D has been waiting a long time for this, and he is not satisfied with the results. Before having sex, Paul D examines Sethe’s scars from Sweet Home, and listens to how she describes it as a tree. After being dissatisfied it says “Paul D saw…and the wrought-iron maze he had explored in the kitchen like a gold miner pawing through pay dirt was in fact revolting clump of scars. Not a tress as she said. Maybe shaped like one, but nothing like any tree he knew because trees were inviting…” Here it is clear that Paul D is now disgusted with Sethe, although he decides to stay in the house. Once being in the house the baby is upset and Paul D stages a fight with it’s spirit, causing the presence to leave. Denver is extremely upset by this because she has lost her only company.
I believe that the baby especially after Denver recalls it kneeling next to her mother praying before Paul comes “has plans” as Denver says. I think that in the future the relevance of it’s haunting will become more distinct and important.

Sarah Al-Edwan said...

In the next section of Beloved, the character Beloved is introduced. After finding her lying on their steps after returning from the carnival, Sethe, Paul D and Denver take Beloved inside. Beloved seems sick, and they let her sleep for several days. Denver has her sleep with Baby Sugg’s blanket that has orange stitches squared in it because she wanted color before she died. All three of the people staying at 124 notice the eerie resemblance that Beloved has to a baby. She sleeps a lot and has soft skin like a newborn. I found it interesting how much Beloved longed to learn about Sethe. It was if she was infatuated with her. It’s clear that she loves listening to stories about Sethe’s past, and although Sethe does not enjoy recalling these memories normally, she finds her self wanting to share more with Beloved and actually takes some pleasure in re-telling these stories.
While I continued to read, I found it interesting how Paul D was very uncomfortable with Beloved being in the house. I found this odd, because he is also a guest in this house and this is the second time that he has had a problem with the company it keeps. That being the spirit of Sethe’s baby and now with Beloved. It states “Beloved was shining and Paul D didn’t like it…that’s how Beloved looked-gilded and shinning. He is uncomfortable with Beloved just as he was with Sethe’s dead daughter, and with both experiences he tried to intimidate what made him feel uncomfortable, first his fight with the baby, and then at the dinner table he continuously asks where Beloved came from making her angry and uncomfortable. It seems strange how Paul D brings out the extreme similarities between Beloved and Sethe’s baby, and Denver begins to notice the similarities as well.

Molly A said...

Molly A. POST #4

In the first 100 words of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a life of the supernatural, or slavery, of rape, a gruesome past is illustrated. Sethe, the main character is an ex-slave whose oldest daughter was murdered at the mere age of two. While trying to forget the days in which she lived as a slave, Sethe is re-visited by an important character from that time of her life, a fellow slave, Paul. Paul, who admittedly loved Sethe for the twenty year period they had spent together at Sweet Home and apart, creates a rift in the home shortly after he arrives. Sethe, who lives with her newest daughter Denver, is haunted by the spirit of her late daughter, and Paul manages to both disturb Sethe’s live and dead family.
As Denver begins to feel more excluded from those who used to be her only family, Beloved, a weak girl they find who ironically has the same name that was carved into the late daughter’s headstone, shows up at their door. At the beginning of her stay, she starts to make Paul feel much less comfortable, while putting Denver’s loneliness more and more at ease. However, further into the time she is with them, she makes it clear to Denver that she came for Sethe, and Sethe only.
The quote, “Beloved was shining and Paul didn’t like it.” says it all. He refuses to accept her, to make her feel welcome. It is some unease. However, he has had that effect on Beloved, Denver, and the late daughter.
Something that Sarah wrote, reminded me of the animosity that Paul must have felt when he was not the chosen man at Sweet Home. When he tells Sethe that Halle (Sethe’s husband and father of Denver) ran after seeing her raped, it is possible that he created the story, fueled by the jealousy he experienced long ago. It is possible that he is not credible in the novel, and that’s why he is therefore disliked by so many other characters.

Molly A said...

Molly A. POST #5

In the second 100 or so words of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, love seemed the most dominant occurrence in the main character, Sethe’s, life. It is told that Ella, one of the stations in the underground railroad, tells Sethe at one point in her process of escaping, that she loves Denver much too much, and that certain levels of love are not meant to be achieved. Similarly to this statement, earlier in the novel Paul tells her she has been through too much to love her children as much as she does, he dubs it unsafe almost, as it its not normal. Towards the end of the 100 page section, we find that Sethe’s children, including the haunting Beloved, were murdered by Sethe. When Paul discovers this, he is enraged and furious, but above all, disappointed. When he confronts her, she insists it was because of love. This is the first indication that Sethe truly has so much love, if that’s even what it is, that it is a danger to her and everyone around her.
Meanwhile Beloved has coaxed Paul into having sex with her, as she has made him leave the house and live in a shack nearby. He feels guilty, yet overcome by her power, and afterwards she holds an even bigger power over his head. The combination of revealing the truth about Sethe, and the discomfort he feels with Beloved causes Paul to leave, and Sethe claims she knows that he will never be back.
After reading Sarah’s description of part two, I wonder about the significance of Paul and Beloved as guests in the house. For some reason, I always felt that Paul was unwelcome. However, when Beloved arrived, I felt her unwelcome and Paul a member of the household. So, when she contributed in his decision to leave I felt that that was unjust. However, I can see how it could be viewed differently- they are, after all both guests and their intentions can definitely be interpreted differently.

Molly A said...

Molly A. POST #6

In the last portion of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, revenge, overcoming obstacles, and forgetting seem to be commonly occurring motifs. After Paul leaves, Sethe becomes more and more positive that Beloved is her deceased daughter reincarnated. She wants more than anything to explain her actions and make things right between them. They begin to love each other more and more, eventually blending to the same person, and subsequently role reversing. Denver, eventually, leaves to create relationships with the people of the town, because she begins to fear both Sethe and Beloved- they are fighting and she fears mainly for her mother. Ella, who Denver turns to in desperation, thinks that although Sethe deserves punishment for her past wrongdoings, this is far too much; and they rally several people to go to the house. In a moment of distraction they get a hold of Sethe and find that Beloved is gone.
After she leaves, Paul returns. He feels more comfortable in the home, Sethe feels like she has lost the most important thing in the world to her. Paul knows that he loves her, and the reader is satisfied knowing that they are meant to be. They agree with the townspeople that it is best to forget that she ever existed, and although it is more difficult for some, the idea is eventually successful.
This novel was most interesting to me in the characterization of Paul. In the first portion of the novel, I felt extremely uncomfortable with him, as if he did not belong. However, when Beloved was introduced and taken away, I felt that he was needed more than anything. I believe Morrison used Beloved character to show readers that although he had his flaws, Paul was essential to both Sethe and Denver.