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Free Study Guide-Beloved by Toni Morrison-Free Online Booknotes Summary
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Paul D notices that Beloved seems to glow, even though Denver and Sethe do not seem to notice it. For Paul, the glow is further proof that that something is basically amiss with Beloved. He begins a habit of having sex with Sethe every morning so that when he later encounters Beloved, his head will be clear. Despite Paul Dís uneasiness with Beloved, she pays him no attention. Her eyes are only for Sethe.

Even though Beloved has been with them for five weeks, she has revealed no information about her past life, which makes Paul D even more suspicious of her. One evening after dinner, he asks Beloved questions about her family. She says she does not have anybody. He asks her what she was looking for when she came to 124 Bluestone. She says she was looking for this place because "she told me. When I was at the bridge, she told me." Sethe guesses that it must have been somebody who knew of 124 when it was a way station.

Beloved is unlike anyone Paul D has seen in the last twenty years. He has seen African Americans "so stunned, or hungry, or tired, or bereft, it was a wonder they recalled or said anything." He had known people who had hidden in caves, stolen from animals, slept in trees, walked by night, and buried themselves in slop in order to hide from their trackers. Beloved, however, is stranger than any of them. It seems particularly odd to Paul D that Beloved appeared on the day that he, Sethe, and Denver were enjoying themselves at the carnival, almost like a real family. Her presence in the front yard upon their return from the carnival disrupted the peace that they had established.

From the very first day, Paul D has wanted Beloved to depart, but Sethe and Denver want her to stay. He decides he should investigate her past to learn more about her. Just as Paul D has this thought, Beloved strangles on a raisin. When Sethe and Denver help to dislodge it, Denver tells her to come up to her room so she can care for her better. She is always happy to be alone with Beloved, for she enjoys the conversation that they have.

When Sethe and Paul D are alone, their conversation again drifts toward the past. Paul D claims that he has never mistreated a woman in his life. Sethe thinks he may be the only such man alive. She explains that she feels Halle mistreated her by deserting her and the children. She tells how Halle failed to be where he said he would be on the day of the escape. Paul D tells her that he was hiding in the loft of the barn and was there when she was being attacked by the two nephews of Schoolteacher. Sethe cannot believe that Halle saw what those boys did to her and did not kill them. Paul D says that what Halle saw broke his spirit, especially since he felt helpless to do anything. In his misery, Halle began to act irrationally. The last time Paul saw Halle, he had smeared butter all over his face.

Shocked and angered to learn that Halle had watched her being assaulted and did not come to her aid, Sethe goes outside to sit on the porch steps and cool off. She thinks about Halleís smearing the butter on his face. She believes it was a reaction to his having seen the boys take the milk from her breasts. She wonders where Halle is now and decides that he is probably dead since he was a broken man. She thinks it might have been nice for the two of them to go insane together.

Sethe's mind cannot think about the future because it is too loaded down with the past. She has ďno room to imagine, let alone plan, for the next day." Her thoughts remind her of the day she gave birth to Denver. Totally exhausted, she reclined in a field of wild onions. Her thoughts are interrupted by Paul D, who comes and sits beside her. He says he did not plan to tell her about Halle, but now he has more he wants to say. He explains to Sethe how they put a bit in his mouth so that he could not even talk. Sethe had seen such a bit in the mouths of many slaves. She tells Paul D that all the people she knew with a bit developed a wild look about them. Paul D, however, does not have such a wildness about him. Paul D continues to talk. He tells Sethe that it really drove him crazy to look at the deformed rooster named Mister, for he knew that the rooster was freer than he. Mister was allowed to be what he was, but Paul D was forever changed by the cruel torture of Schoolteacher.

Sethe tenderly rubs Paul Dís knee as a way of saying she is sorry for his pain. He takes it as a signal that she wants him to stop talking about the past. He pushes the memories back down inside him - to the place in his chest where his red heart used to be. As Sethe continues to rub his knee, she also thinks about "beating back the past."

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