Chapter 5 Notes from Beloved

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Beloved Chapter 5

When Sethe, Denver, and Paul D return from the carnival, there is a strange, young woman (Beloved) on the stump outside 124. She came, fully-clothed, from the river, finding her way to 124 with her shoes untied. The oddest part about the shoes is that they look new, like she didn't have to walk very far in them, and her feet aren't swollen or blistered. She has three scratches on her forehead; these remind Sethe of baby hair. Her voice is rough from not being used, and her skin looks unwrinkled, without calluses -- unusual for someone who is approximately nineteen years old. Sethe notices that her clothes also seem too old for her. The girl can't seem to stay awake and her breathing sounds raspy, like she might have croup or cholera -- both childhood illnesses. Not only does her voice and skin seem new, her walk is unsteady, like it's a skill she's just learning.

When Sethe sees her sitting on the stump, she suddenly has to run to the outhouse. She doesn't quite make it there before she starts peeing so uncontrollably that it reminds her of when her water broke giving birth to Denver in the boat on the Ohio River.

The girl tells them her name is Beloved, and Sethe is reminded of the word on her murdered daughter's tombstone. Beloved doesn't know where she came from or whether or not she has a last name. She keeps falling asleep in the middle of their questions, so they take her to the keeping room to rest. Denver sees Beloved as the answer to her loneliness and sits at the bedside while Beloved sleeps for 4 days. Denver won't leave her to eat, or to visit the emerald closet, and she turns possessive and waspish whenever Sethe tries to offer advice or help care for Beloved. Once, when Beloved wakes, Denver has sweet bread that she gives to her, and at this point, sugar becomes a pacifier for Beloved, in the same way sweets soothe a child. Time passes and Beloved stays at 124. Paul D feels that there's something strange about Beloved, but when he asks Denver to confirm his suspicion to Sethe, Denver lies and distances herself further from Paul D.

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