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Literature Study GuidesBelovedPart 1 Chapter 11 Summary

Beloved | Study Guide

Toni Morrison

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Part 1: Chapter 11

Kristen Over, Associate Professor at Northeastern Illinois University, provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 1: Chapter 11 of Toni Morrison's book Beloved.

Beloved | Part 1, Chapter 11 | Summary



Paul D is gradually moving out of 124. He ends up sleeping in the storeroom, where Beloved visits him and coerces him into having sex with her. She tells him that she loves no one but Sethe. Paul D is convinced that his tobacco tin, in which he keeps his worst memories, is rusted shut and that she can't harm him. As she moves toward him, Paul D doesn't hear the sound of the flakes of rust that fall away from it. When the lid opens, he is not aware. As he has sex with Beloved, he begins saying, "Red heart. Red heart."


Beloved wants Sethe completely to herself, but her wish is thwarted as long as Paul D is in the picture. To change that scenario, she visits him in the storeroom and manipulates him into having sex with her, which she expects will drive a wedge between him and Sethe. While her ploy works, it has the perhaps unintended consequence of breaking the rust loose and beginning to open the "tin box" in which Paul D had locked away all his dreadful memories. The event forces him to confront those memories.

When he calls out "red heart," it is a reference to Chapter 7, when the author says that the tin box was "buried in his chest where a red heart used to be." Calling out "Red heart. Red heart" suggests that he is beginning to heal. Beloved entices Paul D into betraying Sethe, but in doing so she gives him something that will eventually make him stronger.

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