Literature Study GuidesBelovedPart 1 Chapter 8 Summary

Beloved | Study Guide

Toni Morrison

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Part 1: Chapter 8

Kristen Over, Associate Professor at Northeastern Illinois University, provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 1: Chapter 8 of Toni Morrison's book Beloved.

Beloved | Part 1, Chapter 8 | Summary



Just a few minutes after Beloved was choking on the raisin, she and Denver are in Denver's room dancing. When they finally collapse on the bed, Denver asks Beloved what it was like "over there, where you were before?" Beloved explains that it was dark and hot, and there was "no room to move." There were many people there, including some who were dead. She tells Denver that she came back to see Sethe's face, whereupon Denver feels slighted and reminds Beloved of a time when they played together by a stream. Beloved remembers seeing diamonds in the stream, but she didn't touch them because Sethe left her. Denver pleads with Beloved not to leave them now, to which Beloved responds that she will never leave them: "This is where I am." Thinking what this story might mean to Sethe, Denver tells Beloved not to tell Sethe who she really is. Beloved responds by warning Denver to never tell her what to do.

Still alone in the room, Beloved asks Denver to tell her how Sethe delivered Denver in a boat, and a long story ensues. Sethe had run away from Sweet Home after her beating and was found by Amy Denver, a white indentured servant girl who was also running away but who claimed she was traveling to Boston to purchase some carmine (crimson) velvet. Amy cared for Sethe, rubbing her feet and placing spiderwebs on her wounds. When Sethe could walk, they descended to the river where they found an old boat.

Sethe's water broke at just that moment, and Amy helped with the delivery. Sethe and Amy thought the baby was dead, but, when Amy started humming, she started to move again. Amy declared that she had to keep moving but she wanted Sethe to make sure she told the baby that Miss Amy Denver of Boston brought her into the world. "That's pretty, Denver. Real pretty," Sethe thought.


Denver's question to Beloved about where she came from reveals that she knows Beloved is the ghost of her murdered sister. Beloved's answer is vague, but the reader may interpret her story as a description of the Middle Passage, when slaves were brought from Africa. This foreshadows Beloved's narration of her journey into the world, coming in a later chapter. It also ties her to the experiences of all slaves and to the suffering they endured.

Denver is jealous that Beloved is so attached to Sethe and is afraid that, if Sethe really knows who Beloved is, she will lose her dependence on Denver. She uses storytelling to create a net that will keep Beloved connected to her.

Amy Denver is a symbol of hope, and her quest for carmine velvet reveals her search for a better life, a quest shared by Sethe when the two meet. She treats Sethe with rough kindness, frequently belittling Sethe, but at the same time saving her life and delivering her baby. In naming her baby Denver, Sethe preserves the memory of a white person who helped her.

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