Beloved the Enigma

In Toni Morrison's Beloved, Beloved herself is an enigma that nobody seems capable of explaining. From a "pool of red and undulating light" (p.8) her state transforms from the supernatural to that of flesh and blood. But why has she returned? Out of love? Spite? Revenge? She seduces Paul D, drains the energy from Sethe and yet always seems to invent more desire, whether it be for sweets, stories, or explanations. Her return is marked by her ever-present interdependent relationship with Sethe, and yet she treats her mother with such ferocious attention that Denver's loyalty switches from Beloved herself to that of her mother's safety. Throughout the novel, Beloved seems more trouble than anything else, and yet she inadvertently helps the characters in the book overcome their individual obstacles. Beloved haunted 124 in the ghostly state for eighteen years, and yet her tantrums were merely rationalized by "the baby's fury at having its throat cut" (p.5). However, there is a greater purpose for these "quaking" fits (p.18) that Baby Suggs, Sethe, Denver, and the rest of the community remain oblivious of, a purpose that can only be defined with the physical return of Beloved. She brings...

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