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Beloved | Quotes

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1.

Anything dead coming back to life hurts.


Amy Denver, Part 1, Chapter 3

Denver remembers this quotation from her mother's story of her birth. It foreshadows what is to come: Beloved coming back to life and the chaos she will cause in their lives.

2.

To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay.


Narrator, Part 1, Chapter 3

The life that Sethe and Denver are living is better than the one they lived at Sweet Home under schoolteacher. She has no other plans. She constantly fights the memories of that life in order to stay sane.

3.

To love anything that much was dangerous, especially if it was her children.


Paul D, Part 1, Chapter 4

Paul D believes love is risky, especially for slaves. Children were a commodity to slave owners, and no regard was given to family love. Paul D feels it is better not to love at all because then there is nothing to lose.

4.

There is no bad luck in the world but whitefolks.


Baby Suggs, Part 1, Chapter 9

Baby Suggs has collapsed and has given up on life. The slave master tried to reclaim Sethe and her children. Sethe tried to kill the children rather than send them back to slavery. After this Baby Suggs realizes that white folk are the reason for all the misery she has suffered.

5.

Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.


Sethe, Part 1, Chapter 9

Sethe recalls the other black people she had known in the Clearing and in 124 and how, like her, they had claimed themselves. This was a difficult process, as the only life she knew was that of a slave. It was difficult for her at first to be her own person. But, with the help of others, she has learned how to be free. She now realizes that she is in control of her own life; no one else gets to tell her what to do.

6.

All testimony to the results of a little so-called freedom imposed on a people who needed every care and guidance in the world to keep them from the cannibal life they preferred.


Narrator, Part 1, Chapter 16

This is the thinking of the sheriff and his men who came to take Sethe and her children back to Sweet Home. It is a testament to their belief that the slaves were animals that had to be rescued from a life as savages.

7.

The world is in this room. This here's all there is and all there needs to be.


Sethe, Part 2, Chapter 19

Sethe realizes that she can't live outside 124. She has Beloved and Denver, and they are all she believes she needs. She is finally content.

8.

I told you to put her human characteristics on the left; her animal ones on the right.


Schoolteacher, Part 2, Chapter 19

Schoolteacher's words show the theme of the dehumanization of slavery. White slave owners believed that their slaves were savage animals in order to justify their own inhumane behavior.

9.

If I hadn't killed her she would have died and that is something I could not bear to happen to her.


Sethe, Part 2, Chapter 20

This statement from Sethe explains her belief that killing Beloved herself was better than letting her die as a slave at the hands of slave owners. These words exemplify slaves' lack of control over their lives and those of their family members.

10.

His tobacco tin, blown open, spilled contents that floated freely and made him their play and prey.


Narrator, Part 2, Chapter 24

Paul D thinks of his heart as a tobacco tin, shut tight against the pain of memory. In this quotation his heart, in which all the memories of his past were securely stored, has blown apart. All the memories of Sweet Home come rushing back to him, making him vulnerable.

11.

Everything rested on Garner being alive. Without his life each of theirs fell to pieces.


Narrator, Part 2, Chapter 24

Garner had treated his slaves like humans. He called Paul D and the others men. When Garner died schoolteacher took over, and the slaves were treated cruelly. Some were sold, and some were killed. Others escaped but carried the memories of schoolteacher's brutality with them.

12.

Sethe was trying to make up for the handsaw; Beloved was making her pay for it.


Denver, Part 3, Chapter 26

Life at 124 has deteriorated. Beloved takes up all of Sethe's time. She has become unpredictable, constantly needing to be soothed with sweets. With this thought Denver realizes the connection between her mother and Beloved. Sethe was doing everything she could to redeem herself for murdering her baby, while Beloved was slowly sucking the life out of her for doing so.

13.

Edward Bodwin ... had one clear directive: human life is holy.


Narrator, Part 3, Chapter 26

This quotation provides a direct contrast between the Bodwins, who helped the freed African Americans, and the slave owners, who still thought of them as animals.

14.

The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.


Sixo, Part 3, Chapter 27

Paul D is remembering what Sixo said of the Thirty-Mile Woman. Now Paul D feels the same way about Sethe. Paul D always admired Sixo as an example of manhood and wanted to emulate him. Now he is able to experience with Sethe what Sixo experienced with the Thirty-Mile Woman.

15.

We got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.


Paul D, Part 3, Chapter 27

Paul D realizes that the past is over and he can no longer let it haunt him. He has come to terms with it and wants to work on having a future with Sethe.

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