Notes on Beloved Themes

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Beloved Topic Tracking: Anger

Chapter 1 & 2

Anger 1: "124 was spiteful. Full of a baby's venom." Chapter 1, pg. 3 The ghost that haunts 124 is angry about her death, and throughout the story the representations of the baby's spirit -- the ghost and Beloved -- use anger as a weapon to bend Sethe and Denver to her will. The anger is a result of being abandoned or hurt, and that's why so many of the characters throughout the novel harbor anger toward each other.

Anger 2: Denver also feels a lot of anger, but her anger is from being left alone and abandoned. She is even angry at Baby Suggs for dying. She has been left alone with her mother, a woman who tried to kill her when she was small, and she has no allies because everyone she trusted has left her.

Anger 3: Denver feels left out because Paul D and her mother are discussing events that came before her time. This exclusion makes her angry. Much of Denver's anger throughout the story stems from feeling abandoned or excluded. She is very possessive of the little attention she gets because she has no life outside of 124. Having all of Sethe's attention is very important to her.

Chapter 3 & 4

Anger 4: Denver is angry because Paul D decides to stay at 124, thus drawing Sethe's attention away from herself, leaving her lonely again. She confronts her loneliness by sparking a fight between Sethe and Paul D. Sethe is protective of the only child she has left. Denver's anger is inspired by a sense of loss.

Chapter 5 & 6

Anger 5: Denver gets mad because Beloved asks Sethe about stories that have nothing to do with Denver; she dislikes feeling excluded. "Denver hated the stories her mother told that did not concern herself, which is why Amy was all she ever asked about. The rest was a gleaming, powerful world made more so by Denver's absence from it. Not being in it, she hated it and wanted Beloved to hate it too, although there was no chance of that at all." Chapter 6, pg. 62

Chapter 7 & 8

Anger 6: Paul D grows angry that Beloved is staying at 124 and interfering with their attempts at being a family. He doesn't want her there, and he and Sethe have an argument over Beloved. Once again, a feeling of loss prompts anger in the characters. Paul D feels his chance at having something he's never had before, a family, is being taken away by Beloved's presence. He feels as if a dream of his has been stolen.

Anger 7: Beloved gets mad at Denver for telling her what to do. Denver has no right to boss her around; Sethe is the only one for whom Beloved has interest. Denver angers Beloved by trying to convince her not to reveal her identity to Sethe. This would bring Beloved closer to Sethe, the woman she feels she has lost. Beloved knows her anger is a weapon against Denver, who will do anything to keep her happy, afraid of losing her companionship.

Chapter 9 & 10

Anger 8: Sethe decides that the ghost fingers that tried to choke her in the Clearing belonged to the baby ghost who had become angry at being sent away from 124. The ghost was forced to leave its home, and it wants revenge.

Anger 9: Beloved sees Sethe and Paul D fooling around and is angry that Sethe is spending time with him instead of with her. She's losing her place of importance to Sethe. "She had been so close, then closer. And it was so much better than the anger that ruled when Sethe did or thought anything that excluded herself. She could bear the hours -- nine or ten of them each day but one -- when Sethe was gone. Bear even the nights when she was close but out of sight, behind walls and doors lying next to him. But now -- even the daylight time that Beloved had counted on, disciplined herself to be content with, was being reduced, divided by Sethe's willingness to pay attention to other things. Him mostly." Chapter 9, pg. 100

Chapter 13 & 14

Anger 10: Paul D meets Sethe at work to walk her home. They are having a wonderful time by themselves until they approach 124, and Beloved comes up to them and takes Sethe's attention away from Paul D. This angers him. Paul D feels Beloved is deliberately wedging herself between him and Sethe, in an attempt to keep Sethe's attention all to herself.

Chapter 15 & 16

Anger 11: The next day, after Baby Suggs and Sethe have a party at 124, the neighbors begin to turn on them because they think Baby Suggs and Sethe are too proud. "It made them furious. They swallowed baking soda, the morning after, to calm the stomach violence caused by the bounty, the reckless generosity on display at 124. Whispered to each other in the yards about fat rats, doom and uncalled-for pride." Chapter 15, pg. 137 Baby Suggs believed that the neighbors were so angry with her after the party, they refused to warn her or Sethe that schoolteacher was coming to 124. The same animosity resurfaces at Baby Suggs' funeral when the townspeople won't eat any of the food Sethe prepared.

Chapter 19 & 20

Anger 12: Stamp Paid decides that the voices he hears around 124 aren't the voices of ghosts particular to that house, but rather the voices of abused and tortured souls everywhere who are angry about their mistreatment. They are angry at their loss of freedom, family, and life.

Chapter 25 & 26

Anger 13: Beloved and Sethe grow angry with one another because Beloved thinks Sethe abandoned her at the river when she was smaller. Sethe can't make Beloved understand why death was better for her daughter than being forced into slavery. Again, Beloved is angry about losing Sethe, and she uses her anger to make Sethe feel guilty.

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