Literature Study GuidesBelovedPart 1 Chapter 7 Summary

Beloved | Study Guide

Toni Morrison

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Part 1: Chapter 7

Kristen Over, Associate Professor at Northeastern Illinois University, provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 1: Chapter 7 of Toni Morrison's book Beloved.

Beloved | Part 1, Chapter 7 | Summary



Paul D has strange feelings about Beloved. He wonders why Sethe and Denver accept her so readily and unquestioningly when, after five weeks, they still don't know anything about her. Paul D addresses a barrage of questions to Beloved about how she got to their home. She tells him that, when she was at the bridge, someone told her about "this place." Eventually Beloved becomes frustrated by the questions Paul D asks her. She feels that she alone should do the questioning but should never have to answer questions herself. Denver finally rescues her from Paul D's interrogation and wins a smile from Beloved.

Paul D decides to try to find another place for Beloved to stay. As he thinks about it, Beloved chokes on a raisin and is once more rescued by Denver, who takes her to her own room. "I can watch out for you up there," Denver says. When they are gone, Sethe asks Paul D why he is so vexed by Beloved. It's just "a feeling," he says, but Sethe doesn't accept that. She asks him to consider how Beloved feels and why she shouldn't be made to justify her right to a bed to sleep in.

Sethe and Paul D talk about Halle, with whom Sethe is angry because he left his children. Paul D tells her that Halle witnessed what happened to Sethe in the barn when the boys took her milk and that it broke him. When Paul D saw him for the last time, Halle had butter all over his face. Sethe is bitter that her husband saw the cruelty and did nothing to stop it. Paul D relates details about what happened to him that day, something he has never told anyone. He was watching roosters and in particular Mister, the meanest of them, walking around freely while Paul D was chained with a horse bit in his mouth. He doesn't tell the rest of the story but chooses to keep it locked up in the "tobacco tin buried in his chest."


Paul D is suspicious of Beloved, but it's not entirely clear why. Her expression of "petlike adoration" prompts Paul D to question her. Is it her weakness or neediness that makes him resentful, that confuses his understanding? She tells him she came from the bridge, looking for a place she "could be in." Paul D interprets this to mean that she is like many ex-slaves he knows. Like him, they are looking for a place "to be." To the reader the bridge could be a crossing point between this world and the supernatural world—another sign that Beloved could be the incarnation of Sethe's dead baby.

The reader also gets another glimpse of Beloved's strange power, especially over Denver. The choking incident effectively stops Paul D's questions and all talk of her being banished. The reader may notice that the relationship between Denver and Beloved has aspects of a familial, sister-to-sister relationship.

It angers Sethe to learn that Halle witnessed the boys abusing her in the barn. Even though Halle was broken by this sight, Sethe feels he should have come down from the loft, helped her somehow, or that he should at least have said something to her. But she sees him with his face covered with butter representing his guilt and despair over the milk the boys took from her. The distress all three of them went through that day supports Sethe's concept of rememory. Although Sethe, Halle, and Paul D each thought they were alone, they in fact shared in a connected suffering made worse by their individual isolation.

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