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Unformatted text preview: Part One: Chapters 9–11 Summary: Chapter 9 Disturbed by Paul D's information about Halle and missing the soothing presence that Baby Suggs once provided, Sethe seeks comfort in a place called the Clearing. She takes Denver and Beloved with her. Before Baby Suggs fell into a depression, for which Sethe blames herself, the older woman used to preach to the black community of Cincinnati in the Clearing. She would begin by having the people participate in a cathartic mixture of crying, laughter, and dance, and she would then preach self-love. She would instruct them to love their hands that had been bound, their mouths that had been silenced, and, most of all, their hearts. Sethe recalls the day she arrived at 124 and met Baby Suggs for the first time. After Denver's birth and Amy Denver's departure, she came across a black man fishing with two boys. The man, Stamp Paid, wrapped Denver in a jacket and poled Sethe across the Ohio. On shore, he left a signal for Ella, another organizer of the Underground Railroad, which alerted her to the presence of a “passenger” who needed help. When Ella arrived, Sethe explained that she was heading to Baby Suggs's house on Bluestone Road. Ella, noting Sethe's attachment to Denver, voiced her opinion that one shouldn't love anything too much. When Sethe got to 124, Baby Suggs welcomed and bathed her before allowing her to see her two boys and her “crawling already? girl.” To amuse her daughter, Sethe jingled the earrings that Mrs. Garner had given her. During the twenty-eight days she spent in Cincinnati before her daughter's death, Sethe enjoyed being a part of the community. In the Clearing, she had felt for the first time as though she owned herself. As she sits on Baby Suggs's old rock in the Clearing, Sethe calls silently for the calming fingers of her deceased mother-in-law. She begins to feel Baby Suggs massaging her neck, but the touch turns suddenly violent and Sethe realizes she is being strangled. Denver reacts with alarm, and Beloved caresses and kisses the bruises on Sethe's neck. Beloved's breath smells like milk to Sethe, and her touch feels like that of the baby's ghost. Alarmed, Sethe pushes Beloved away, saying, “You too old for that.” Later, Denver accuses Beloved of strangling Sethe. Beloved runs away in anger, insisting that Sethe was being choked by the “circle of iron,” not by her. We learn that as a seven-year-old Denver attended school lessons with other black children at the home of a woman they called Lady Jones. Denver had been studying there for a year when her classmate Nelson Lord upset her by asking, “Didn't your mother get locked away for murder?” Denver repeated the question to her mother, but she went “deaf” before she could hear an answer. This deafness was cured by the sound of the baby ghost climbing the stairs. It was the first time the ghost had appeared. But after this first innocuous manifestation, the ghost proceeded to become spiteful, angry, and...
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This note was uploaded on 10/28/2010 for the course ANTHRO 2/AC taught by Professor Wilkes during the Spring '09 term at Berkeley.
- Spring '09
- Beloved, Love, 124, Sethe, Beloved, Denver, Paul D, Baby Suggs, Ella, Halle, Mr. Garner, Schoolteacher, Stamp Paid