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Free Study Guide-Beloved by Toni Morrison-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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CHAPTER 23

Summary

This chapter is a continuation of the previous surrealistic one. Beloved is till the first person narrator, speaking from the other world. She thinks about Sethe, who picked flowers "in the place before the crouching." She is convinced that Sethe was about to smile at her when the men without skin came and shoved the dead into the sea. Sethe, however, went into the sea without the men pushing her. Beloved found and then lost Sethe's face in the water under the bridge. When she saw Sethe coming to her, she wanted to join her. Beloved tried to reach Sethe, but her mother floated away, up to the light above the water. Beloved followed Sethe and came to her house. When she sees Sethe, she is smiling at last. Beloved is determined not to lose Sethe again.

A voice asks Beloved if she came from the other side and if she came back because of Sethe. Beloved answers yes. The voice tells Beloved that she is safe, for the men cannot hurt them any more. Another voice talks to Beloved and describes how they played by the creek in the quiet time. The voice says she can give Beloved dreams. Beloved says that when she dreams, Sethe “chews and swallows" me. When she laughs, “I am the laughter." The voice tries to comfort Beloved and promises that "Daddy is coming for us."


The voices then speak together and claim Beloved as sister and daughter. They say, "You are my face; you are mine." One says, “I brought you milk;” the other says, “I drank your blood.” One voice adds that she has her milk; another adds that she has her smile. Then the voices repeatedly chant, "You are mine." In the end, the voices promise Beloved that she will not be left again.

Notes

This chapter becomes a stream of consciousness narrative among Sethe, Beloved, and Denver. There is no indication of who is speaking or thinking except for the content of the message. Each of the three voices repeats the concerns that they have previously expressed. It is only in knowing the characters and what has happened previously in the book that the reader can distinguish which lines belong to which character. There are things, however, that hold all three of them together; they crave an escape from their pasts, and they have an extreme need for emotional nourishment - to feel secure and loved. All of their voices merge in the last three lines, “You are mine; you are mine; you are mine.” The repeated phrase becomes a benediction to salve their pain.

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