Beloved by Toni Morrison: Summary

Sethe, a female protagonist of the novel, is a slave on a plantation of Sweet Home. There are other slaves: Paul A, Paul D, Paul F, Sixo and Halle. Sethe gets married to Halle. Their owner Mr. Garner is the comparatively generous man so the slaves enjoy somewhat stable life. But, unfortunately Mr. Garner dies and the Sweet Home is taken over by a schoolteacher who is a brother in law of Mr. Garner.

Toni Morrison (Born in1931)

The new master turns up to be cruel who treats all his slaves as animals. Their lives start to worsen, so they decide to run away from his inhuman grip. During their escape, only Paul D and Sethe become successful to be safe but the rest of the slaves are killed.

Sethe was pregnant with a fourth child. It was difficult for her to run away with her kids so she sends them to her mother in law. She is helped by a white woman to give birth to her fourth child. The fourth baby girl is named after the white lady, Denver. She is helped to reach to her mother in law and reunited with her three children. After twenty eight days of freedom, her master, the school teacher comes to fetch her on the basis of fugitive law. It is shock and her dreams to live in peace and to raise her children in Free State is shattered. So, she takes all her children to the woods and intends to kill them and commit suicide. She thinks that to die is better and full of dignity than to live in slavery and to let her daughters be sexually abused. She gets success to kill her eldest daughter only. Her two sons run away and Sethe is stopped to kill Denver. She is sent to prison with Denver.

After twenty years of that incident, Sethe is shown living in a house 124 Bluestone Road with Denver. These two women are excluded from the black community for committing crime of killing own daughter. Sethe has a job of cook and from that earning she is able to survive. One day, Paul D arrives there and he starts living with them. Sethe and Paul D live like husband and wife. She wishes her eldest daughter would come back so that she could justify her brutal action. Surprisingly her wish is fulfilled. One day a lady of twenty years old appears at her door. She tells her name is Beloved- it is the name engraved on the tomb of Sethe’s eldest daughter. Sethe is convinced that she is her Beloved daughter so Sethe starts doing everything to please her ghost daughter but she wants more and more. Paul D comes to know about the crime that Sethe did years ago by Stamp Paid. Paul D leaves them and goes from there.

Since then, these three women locked themselves inside the house and start living blaming each other and living in guilt. Beloved becomes fatter and fatter and Sethe becomes thinner and thinner. Denver realizes that she must do something. She must go outside the house to seek for help otherwise Beloved would kill Sethe. Denver goes out and looks for the job. She tells the fact of ghost and asks for their help to the community women. They also decide to help them. As all the women gather outside, Mr. Bodwin appears to pick up Denver. Sethe thinks that this white man can be a danger to her daughters, so she hits him with an ice pick but is stopped by another woman. At the same time, Beloved disappears.

Paul D realizes that whatever Sethe did in the past is just to protect her baby from the slavery. He returns to her and nurses her as he finds her sick. He convinces her that they must overcome their shared past. They have new hope to live now. Sethe is important being for herself and for other and she must forget her dead child. At the end of the novel, the possibility of the bright future of Sethe, Denver and Paul D is indicated.