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Literature Study GuidesBelovedPart 1 Chapter 6 Summary

Beloved | Study Guide

Toni Morrison

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Part 1: Chapter 6

Kristen Over, Associate Professor at Northeastern Illinois University, provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 1: Chapter 6 of Toni Morrison's book Beloved.

Beloved | Part 1, Chapter 6 | Summary



Beloved is entranced by Sethe. Out of nowhere she asks where Sethe's diamonds are. Sethe is so amazed that she wants to tell Beloved about her past, which she and Baby Suggs had agreed was "unspeakable." Sethe reveals the story of Mrs. Garner giving her the diamonds as a gift, when she "married" Halle at age 14.

In response to Beloved's question about Sethe's mother, she tells about the brand mark on her mother's body. She did not see the mark when she found her mother's body hanging from a tree. A woman named Nan had yanked Sethe away. She told the girl that she was the only child her mother had kept, giving her the name of her black father. Denver listens to the story, hating it because it has nothing to do with her. She has a puzzling thought: how did Beloved know about the earrings?


The story of Sethe and Halle's "wedding" shows that the Garners felt some kindness toward their slaves. However, Sethe and Halle were not given a true wedding, demonstrating again that even the "benevolent" Garners did not give their slaves the rights and privileges of whites.

As Denver wonders how Beloved knew about Sethe's diamond earrings, readers see a clear link between Beloved and Sethe's murdered baby. Beloved continues to force Sethe to remember the past Sethe had previously buried. The story of the branding and hanging of Sethe's mother exemplifies the theme of lost identity for enslaved people, as do her mother's memories of being raped on the voyage to America. Sethe's memories of her early childhood are also complicated by the fact that Nan spoke to her in a language she no longer remembers, leaving her "picking meaning out of a code she no longer understood."

Denver hates the stories Sethe is telling because they don't involve her own past. The only story she ever wants to hear is the one about her birth. She resents Beloved's constant questions that conjure stories from Sethe's past. At the same time, readers see that confronting her repressed memories might help Sethe to one day free herself from them.

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