Experiences from visiting BHS

On our first visit to the BHS, the people there are very passionate about their job. They spent time explaining what is the BHS is about and told us the many documents in BHS are from historical time. They also explained to us how important it is to follow their rules in the BHS because they don’t want anyone to bring damages to any documents inside the library. Most of the documents in the BHS are from very long time ago so the qualities of the document can be very poor and easy to damage or ripped. When we got inside the library, we have to sign in and make sure we don’t use pens or markers in the library. We have to wear gloves if we are going to have contacts with the photos. Then we sit on the chairs with different sets of tables. On the desk we saw different documents with photos. The documents were pictures of Brooklyn in back then. First document we saw was a map of Brooklyn back then. It has the name of the streets. Second document was a picture of a train station in 71st Street Station, west end line.  The picture was from 1958. The third document was a picture of view of the beach at Coney Island in 1958. All the pictures were black and white color. The first visit helped me understand and learned about how Brooklyn was like in long time ago. Most of the places in the photos changed nowadays.

On the second visit of BHS, the staffs there again reminded us the rules of the BHS. This time we sit at different sets of tables again. And we have different documents from last time. The document on our table is a newspaper from 1825. It is a newspaper with different kinds of advertisements. The ad we have to look for is an ad section which talks about the runaway slave. The readings we read for class were about the slaves. The reading Runaway Slave Profile and the newspaper we had on the table were about the runaway slave.  It talks about how much the owner of the slave reward for the ones who find and return their slave. On the newspaper, it describes the characteristics of the slave. After the second visit, I learned more about the slavery. For example, the owner reward to people who find the runaway slaves because some of the slaves have different kind of skills. Different slaves with different skills have different values, some worth 25 dollars and some worth 6 cents.

On our last visit, we have to present what documents we saw from our tables to the class. Overall, the experiences from visiting the BHS gave me a lot of new information about the history of Brooklyn and the slave from long time ago. I learned a lot about the histories.

essay 2

“and if she thought anything it was no. no. nono.nononono. simple. she just flew. collected every but of life she had made/ all the parts of her that were precious and fine and beautiful, and carried,pushed dragged them through the veil, out, away, over there where no one coule hurt them. over there. outside this place where they would be safe.”

Beloved pages 74-89

“Tell me,” Beloved said. “Tell me how Sethe made you in the boat.”
“She never told me all of it,” said Denver.
“Tell me.”
Denver climbed up on the bed and folded her arms under her apron. She had
not been in the tree room once since Beloved sat on their stump after the
carnival, and had not remembered that she hadn’t gone there until this very
desperate moment. Nothing was out there that this sister-girl did not provide
in abundance: a racing heart, dreaminess, society, danger, beauty. She
swallowed twice to prepare for the telling, to construct out of the strings she
had heard all her life a net to hold Beloved.
“She had good hands, she said. The whitegirl, she said, had thin little
arms but good hands. She saw that right away, she said. Hair enough for five
heads and good hands, she said. I guess the hands made her think she could do
it: get us both across the river. But the mouth was what kept her from being
scared. She said there ain’t nothing to go by with whitepeople. You don’t know
how they’ll jump. Say one thing, do another. But if you looked at the mouth
sometimes you could tell by that. She said this girl talked a storm, but there
wasn’t no meanness around her mouth. She took Ma’am to that lean-to and rubbed
her feet for her, so that was one thing.
And Ma’am believed she wasn’t going to turn her over. You could get money
if you turned a runaway over, and she wasn’t sure this girl Amy didn’t need
money more than anything, especially since all she talked about was getting
hold of some velvet.”
“What’s velvet?”
“It’s a cloth, kind of deep and soft.”
“Go ahead.”
“Anyway, she rubbed Ma’am’s feet back to life, and she cried, she said,
from how it hurt. But it made her think she could make it on over to where
Grandma Baby Suggs was and…”
“Who is that?”
“I just said it. My grandmother.”
“Is that Sethe’s mother?”
“No. My father’s mother.”
“Go ahead.”
“That’s where the others was. My brothers and.., the baby girl.
She sent them on before to wait for her at Grandma Baby’s. So she had to
put up with everything to get there. And this here girl Amy helped.”
Denver stopped and sighed. This was the part of the story she loved. She
was coming to it now, and she loved it because it was all about herself; but
she hated it too because it made her feel like a bill was owing somewhere andhe, Denver, had to pay it. But who she owed or what to pay it with eluded her.
Now, watching Beloved’s alert and hungry face, how she took in every word,
asking questions about the color of things and their size, her downright
craving to know, Denver began to see what she was saying and not just to hear
it: there is this nineteen-year-old slave girl–a year older than her self–
walking through the dark woods to get to her children who are far away. She is
tired, scared maybe, and maybe even lost. Most of all she is by herself and
inside her is another baby she has to think about too. Behind her dogs,
perhaps; guns probably; and certainly mossy teeth. She is not so afraid at
night because she is the color of it, but in the day every sound is a shot or a
tracker’s quiet step.
Denver was seeing it now and feeling it–through Beloved. Feeling how it
must have felt to her mother. Seeing how it must have looked.
And the more fine points she made, the more detail she provided, the more
Beloved liked it. So she anticipated the questions by giving blood to the
scraps her mother and grandmother had told herwand a heartbeat. The monologue
became, iri fact, a duet as they lay down together, Denver nursing Beloved’s
interest like a lover whose pleasure was to overfeed the loved. The dark quilt
with two orange patches was there with them because Beloved wanted it near her
when she slept. It was smelling like grass and feeling like hands– the
unrested hands of busy women: dry, warm, prickly. Denver spoke, Beloved
listened, and the two did the best they could to create what really happened,
how it really was, something only Sethe knew because she alone had the mind for
it and the time afterward to shape it: the quality of Amy’s voice, her breath
like burning wood. The quick-change weather up in those hills—cool at night,
hot in the day, sudden fog. How recklessly she behaved with this whitegirlNa
recklessness born of desperation and encouraged by Amy’s fugitive eyes and her
tenderhearted mouth.
“You ain’t got no business walking round these hills, miss.”
“Looka here who’s talking. I got more business here ‘n you got.
They catch you they cut your head off. Ain’t nobody after me but I know
somebody after you.” Amy pressed her fingers into the soles of the slavewoman’s
feet. “Whose baby that?”
Sethe did not answer.
“You don’t even know. Come here, Jesus,” Amy sighed and shook her head.
“A touch.”
“Good for you. More it hurt more better it is. Can’t nothing heal without
pain, you know. What you wiggling for?”
Sethe raised up on her elbows. Lying on her back so long had raised a
ruckus between her shoulder blades. The fire in her feet and the fire on her
back made her sweat.
“My back hurt me,” she said.
“Your back? Gal, you a mess. Turn over here and let me see.”
In an effort so great it made her sick to her stomach, Sethe turned onto
her right side. Amy unfastened the back of her dress and said, “Come here,
Jesus,” when she saw. Sethe guessed it must be bad because after that call to
Jesus Amy didn’t speak for a while. In the silence of an Amy struck dumb for a
change, Sethe felt the fingers of those good hands lightly touch her back. She
could hear her breathing but still the whitegirl said nothing. Sethe could not
move. She couldn’t lie on her stomach or her back, and to keep on her side
meant pressure on her screaming feet. Amy spoke at last in her dreamwalker’s
“It’s a tree, Lu. A chokecherry tree. See, here’s the trunk–it’s red and
split wide open, full of sap, and this here’s the parting for the branches. You
got a mighty lot of branches. Leaves, too, look like, and dern if these ain’t
blossoms. Tiny little cherry blossoms, just as white. Your back got a wholeree on it. In bloom. What God have in mind, I wonder. I had me some whippings,
but I don’t remember nothing like this. Mr. Buddy had a right evil hand too.
Whip you for looking at him straight. Sure would. I looked right at him one
time and he hauled off and threw the poker at me. Guess he knew what I was athinking.'”
Sethe groaned and Amy cut her reverie short–long enough to shift Sethe’s
feet so the weight, resting on leaf-covered stones, was above the ankles.
“That better? Lord what a way to die. You gonna die in here, you know.
Ain’t no way out of it. Thank your Maker I come along so’s you wouldn’t have to
die outside in them weeds. Snake come along he bite you. Bear eat you up. Maybe
you should of stayed where you was, Lu. I can see by your back why you didn’t
ha ha.
Whoever planted that tree beat Mr. Buddy by a mile. Glad I ain’t you.
Well, spiderwebs is ’bout all I can do for you. What’s in here ain’t enough.
I’ll look outside. Could use moss, but sometimes bugs and things is in it.
Maybe I ought to break them blossoms open. Get that pus to running, you think?
Wonder what God had in mind. You must of did something. Don’t run off nowhere
Sethe could hear her humming away in the bushes as she hunted spiderwebs.
A humming she concentrated on because as soon as Amy ducked out the baby began
to stretch. Good question, she was thinking.
What did He have in mind? Amy had left the back of Sethe’s dress open and
now a tail of wind hit it, taking the pain down a step. A relief that let her
feel the lesser pain of her sore tongue. Amy returned with two palmfuls of web,
which she cleaned of prey and then draped on Sethe’s back, saying it was like
stringing a tree for Christmas.
“We got a old nigger girl come by our place. She don’t know nothing. Sews
stuff for Mrs. Buddy–real fine lace but can’t barely stick two words together.
She don’t know nothing, just like you. You don’t know a thing. End up dead,
that’s what. Not me. I’m a get to Boston and get myself some velvet. Carmine.
You don’t even know about that, do you? Now you never will. Bet you never even
sleep with the sun in your face. I did it a couple of times. Most times I’m
feeding stock before light and don’t get to sleep till way after dark comes.
But I was in the back of the wagon once and fell asleep.
Sleeping with the sun in your face is the best old feeling. Two times I
did it. Once when I was little. Didn’t nobody bother me then. Next time, in
back of the wagon, it happened again and doggone if the chickens didn’t get
loose. Mr. Buddy whipped my tail. Kentucky ain’t no good place to be in.
Boston’s the place to be in. That’s where my mother was before she was give to
Mr. Buddy. Joe Nathan said Mr.
Buddy is my daddy but I don’t believe that, you?”
Sethe told her she didn’t believe Mr. Buddy was her daddy.
“You know your daddy, do you?”
“No,” said Sethe.
“Neither me. All I know is it ain’t him.” She stood up then, having
finished her repair work, and weaving about the lean-to, her slow-moving eyes
pale in the sun that lit her hair, she sang: “‘When the busy day is done And my
weary little one Rocketh gently to and fro; When the night winds softly blow,
And the crickets in the glen Chirp and chirp and chirp again; Where “pon the
haunted green Fairies dance around their queen, Then from yonder misty skies
Cometh Lady Button Eyes.”
Suddenly she stopped weaving and rocking and sat down, her skinny arms
wrapped around her knees, her good good hands cupping her elbows. Her slowmoving eyes stopped and peered into the dirt at her feet. “That’s my mama’s
song. She taught me it.”
“Through the muck and mist and glaam To our quiet cozy home, Where to
singing sweet and low Rocks a cradle to and fro.here the clock’s dull monotone
Telleth of the day that’s done,
Where the moonbeams hover o’er
Playthings sleeping on the floor,
Where my weary wee one lies
Cometh Lady Button Eyes.
Layeth she her hands upon
My dear weary little one,
And those white hands overspread
Like a veil the curly head,
Seem to fondle and caress
Every little silken tress.
Then she smooths the eyelids down
Over those two eyes of brown
In such soothing tender wise
Cometh Lady Button Eyes.”
Amy sat quietly after her song, then repeated the last line before she
stood, left the lean-to and walked off a little ways to lean against a young
ash. When she came back the sun was in the valley below and they were way above
it in blue Kentucky light.
“‘You ain’t dead yet, Lu? Lu?”
“Not yet.”
“Make you a bet. You make it through the night, you make it all the way.”
Amy rearranged the leaves for comfort and knelt down to massage the swollen
feet again. “Give these one more real good rub,” she said, and when Sethe
sucked air through her teeth, she said, “Shut up. You got to keep your mouth
Careful of her tongue, Sethe bit down on her lips and let the good hands
go to work to the tune of “So bees, sing soft and bees, sing low.” Afterward,
Amy moved to the other side of the lean-to where, seated, she lowered her head
toward her shoulder and braided her hair, saying, “Don’t up and die on me in
the night, you hear? I don’t want to see your ugly black face hankering over
me. If you do die, just go on off somewhere where I can’t see you, hear?”
“I hear,” said Sethe. I’ll do what I can, miss.”
Sethe never expected to see another thing in this world, so when she felt
toes prodding her hip it took a while to come out of a sleep she thought was
death. She sat up, stiff and shivery, while Amy looked in on her juicy back.
“Looks like the devil,” said Amy. “But you made it through.
Come down here, Jesus, Lu made it through. That’s because of me.
I’m good at sick things. Can you walk, you think?”
“I have to let my water some kind of way.”
“Let’s see you walk on em.”
It was not good, but it was possible, so Sethe limped, holding on first
to Amy, then to a sapling.
“Was me did it. I’m good at sick things ain’t I?”
“Yeah,” said Sethe, “you good.”
“We got to get off this here hill. Come on. I’ll take you down to the
river. That ought to suit you. Me, I’m going to the Pike. Take me straight to
Boston. What’s that all over your dress?”
“You one mess.”
Sethe looked down at her stomach and touched it. The baby was dead. She
had not died in the night, but the baby had. If that was the case, then thereas no stopping now. She would get that milk to her baby girl if she had to
“Ain’t you hungry?” Amy asked her.
“I ain’t nothing but in a hurry, miss.”
“Whoa. Slow down. Want some shoes?”
“Say what?”
“I figured how,” said Amy and so she had. She tore two pieces from
Sethe’s shawl, filled them with leaves and tied them over her feet, chattering
all the while.
“How old are you, Lu? I been bleeding for four years but I ain’t having
nobody’s baby. Won’t catch me sweating milk cause…”
“I know,” said Sethe. “You going to Boston.”
At noon they saw it; then they were near enough to hear it. By late
afternoon they could drink from it if they wanted to. Four stars were visible
by the time they found, not a riverboat to stow Sethe away on, or a ferryman
willing to take on a fugitive passenger–nothing like that–but a whole boat to
steal. It had one oar, lots of holes and two bird nests.
“There you go, Lu. Jesus looking at you.”
Sethe was looking at one mile of dark water, which would have to be split
with one oar in a useless boat against a current dedicated to the Mississippi
hundreds of miles away. It looked like home to her, and the baby (not dead in
the least) must have thought so too.
As soon as Sethe got close to the river her own water broke loose to join
it. The break, followed by the redundant announcement of labor, arched her
“What you doing that for?” asked Amy. “Ain’t you got a brain in your
head? Stop that right now. I said stop it, Lu. You the dumbest thing on this
here earth. Lu! Lu!”
Sethe couldn’t think of anywhere to go but in. She waited for the sweet
beat that followed the blast of pain. On her knees again, she crawled into the
boat. It waddled under her and she had just enough time to brace her leaf-bag
feet on the bench when another rip took her breath away. Panting under four
summer stars, she threw her legs over the sides, because here come the head, as
Amy informed her as though she did not know it–as though the rip was a breakup
of walnut logs in the brace, or of lightning’s jagged tear through a leather
It was stuck. Face up and drowning in its mother’s blood. Amy stopped
begging Jesus and began to curse His daddy.
“Push!” screamed Amy.
“Pull,” whispered Sethe.
And the strong hands went to work a fourth time, none too soon, for river
water, seeping through any hole it chose, was spreading over Sethe’s hips. She
reached one arm back and grabbed the rope while Amy fairly clawed at the head.
When a foot rose from the river bed and kicked the bottom of the boat and
Sethe’s behind, she knew it was done and permitted herself a short faint.
Coming to, she heard no cries, just Amy’s encouraging coos. Nothing happened
for so long they both believed they had lost it. Sethe arched suddenly and the
afterbirth shot out. Then the baby whimpered and Sethe looked.
Twenty inches of cord hung from its belly and it trembled in the cooling
evening air. Amy wrapped her skirt around it and the wet sticky women clambered
ashore to see what, indeed, God had in mind.
Spores of bluefern growing in the hollows along the riverbank float
toward the water in silver-blue lines hard to see unless you are in or near
them, lying right at the river’s edge when the sunshots are low and drained.
Often they are mistook for insects–but they are seeds in which the whole
generation sleeps confident of a future.
And for a moment it is easy to believe each one has one–will become allf what is contained in the spore: will live out its days as planned.
This moment of certainty lasts no longer than that; longer, perhaps, than
the spore itself.
On a riverbank in the cool of a summer evening two women struggled under
a shower of silvery blue. They never expected to see each other again in this
world and at the moment couldn’t care less.
But there on a summer night surrounded by bluefern they did something
together appropriately and well. A pateroller passing would have sniggered to
see two throw-away people, two lawless outlaws– a slave and a barefoot
whitewoman with unpinned hair–wrapping a ten-minute-old baby in the rags they
wore. But no pateroller came and no preacher. The water sucked and swallowed
itself beneath them. There was nothing to disturb them at their work. So they
did it appropriately and well.
Twilight came on and Amy said she had to go; that she wouldn’t be caught
dead in daylight on a busy river with a runaway. After rinsing her hands and
face in the river, she stood and looked down at the baby wrapped and tied to
Sethe’s chest.
“She’s never gonna know who I am. You gonna tell her? Who brought her
into this here world?” She lifted her chin, looked off into the place where the
sun used to be. “You better tell her. You hear? Say Miss Amy Denver. Of

Passage for Essay #2

The passage i chose for my essay is on page .

“Mr.Garner was dead and his wife had a lump in her neck the size of a sweet potato and unable to speak to anyone. She leaned as close to the fire as her pregnant belly allowed and told him, Paul D, the last of the Sweet Home men. There had been six of them who belonged to the farm, Sethe the only female. Mrs.Garner, crying like a baby, had sold his brother to pay off the debts that surfaced the minute she was widowed. Then Schoolteacher arrived to put things in order. But what he did broke three more Sweet Home men and punched the glittering iron out of Sethe’s eyes, leaving two open wells that did not reflect firelight.”

Passage pages 238-239

I decided to use the passage when Sethe is talking to Beloved about Sweet Home. This is in between Part 2 and Part 3.

“She needed the cover; I needed the breeze. Long
as those yellow curtains flapped, I was all right. Should have heeded her.
Maybe what sounded like shots really was. Maybe I would have seen somebody or
Maybe. Anyhow I took my babies to the corn, Halle or no. Jesus. then I
heard that woman’s rattle. She said, Any more? I told her I didn’t know. She
said, I been here all night. Can’t wait. I tried to make her. She said, Can’t
do it. Come on. Hoo! Not a man around.
Boys scared. You asleep on my back. Denver sleep in my stomach.
Felt like I was split in two. I told her to take you all; I had to go
back. In case. She just looked at me. Said, Woman? Bit a piece of my tongue off
when they opened my back. It was hanging by a shred.
I didn’t mean to. Clamped down on it, it come right off. I thought, Good
God, I’m going to eat myself up. They dug a hole for my stomach so as not to
hurt the baby. Denver don’t like for me to talk about it. She hates anything
about Sweet Home except how she was born. But you was there and even if you tooyoung to memory it, I can tell it to you. The grape arbor. You memory that? I
ran so fast. Flies beat me to you.”

History Through Art & Words at BHS (My Experience)

During our class visits to the Brooklyn Historical Society I found myself getting more and more enthralled with the amazing atmosphere that the building. When I walked into the building I felt like I had walked through a wormhole and was back in time in the library of a large manor home, expecting a lord of some sort to come in and ask me to leave. On our first day we met Robin Katz who stood out from everyone else in the way she spoke and her apparent display of knowledge. During our three visits we looked at articles pictures and advertisements that ranged in age from over five decades to almost two hundred years old. These primary sources were well preserved and displayed a great deal of information. It was like looking through a window through the fabric of time and seeing things from the point of view of people who lived before my time. One of the first things I saw at the BHS was a map of subway stations in Brooklyn that was over fifty years old. I was surprised to know that a lot of stations are still there today and some are even still in use. During our second and third visits we looked at different articles and advertisements pertaining to slaves. These were tough subjects to view and a lot of the things we looked at made me really angry. However I am glad that I got the chance to see these materials. In doing so I was able to learn and grow as a person and feel really good about the time we live in. I wouldn’t trade my experience there for anything. I also hope that I get the chance to go back and do some self-study research so that I can appreciate the entirety of what the BHS has to offer.

The Passage Page 29-40

DENVER’S SECRETS were sweet. Accompanied every time by wild veronica until she
discovered cologne. The first bottle was a gift, the next she stole from her
mother and hid among boxwood until it froze and cracked. That was the year
winter came in a hurry at suppertime and stayed eight months. One of the War
years when Miss Bodwin, the whitewoman, brought Christmas cologne for her
mother and herself, oranges for the boys and another good wool shawl for Baby
Suggs. Talking of a war full of dead people, she looked happy–flush-faced, and
although her voice was heavy as a man’s, she smelled like a roomful of
flowers–excitement that Denver could have all for herself in the boxwood. Back
beyond 1×4 was a narrow field that stopped itself at a wood. On the yonder side
of these woods, a stream.
In these woods, between the field and the stream, hidden by post oaks,
five boxwood bushes, planted in a ring, had started stretching toward each
other four feet off the ground to form a round, empty room seven feet high, its
walls fifty inches of murmuring leaves.
Bent low, Denver could crawl into this room, and once there she could
stand all the way up in emerald light.
It began as a little girl’s houseplay, but as her desires changed, so did
the play. Quiet, primate and completely secret except for the noisome cologne
signal that thrilled the rabbits before it confused them. First a playroom
(where the silence was softer), then a refuge (from her brothers’ fright), soon
the place became the point. In that bower, closed off from the hurt of the hurt
world, Denver’s imagination produced its own hunger and its own food, which she
badly needed because loneliness wore her out. Wore her out. Veiled and
protected by the live green walls, she felt ripe and clear, and salvation was
as easy as a wish.Once when she was in the boxwood, an autumn long before Paul D moved into
the house with her mother, she was made suddenly cold by a combination of wind
and the perfume on her skin. She dressed herself, bent down to leave and stood
up in snowfall: a thin and whipping snow very like the picture her mother had
painted as she described the circumstances of Denver’s birth in a canoe
straddled by a whitegirl for whom she was named.
Shivering, Denver approached the house, regarding it, as she always did,
as a person rather than a structure. A person that wept, sighed, trembled and
fell into fits. Her steps and her gaze were the cautious ones of a child
approaching a nervous, idle relative (someone dependent but proud). A
breastplate of darkness hid all the windows except one. Its dim glow came from
Baby Suggs’ room. When Denver looked in, she saw her mother on her knees in
prayer, which was not unusual. What was unusual (even for a girl who had lived
all her life in a house peopled by the living activity of the dead) was that a
white dress knelt down next to her mother and had its sleeve around her
mother’s waist. And it was the tender embrace of the dress sleeve that made
Denver remember the details of her birth–that and the thin, whipping snow she
was standing in, like the fruit of common flowers. The dress and her mother
together looked like two friendly grown-up women–one (the dress) helping out
the other.
And the magic of her birth, its miracle in fact, testified to that
friendliness as did her own name.
Easily she stepped into the told story that lay before her eyes on the
path she followed away from the window. There was only one door to the house
and to get to it from the back you had to walk all the way around to the front
of 124, past the storeroom, past the cold house, the privy, the shed, on around
to the porch. And to get to the part of the story she liked best, she had to
start way back: hear the birds in the thick woods, the crunch of leaves
underfoot; see her mother making her way up into the hills where no houses were
likely to be. How Sethe was walking on two feet meant for standing still. How
they were so swollen she could not see her arch or feel her ankles. Her leg
shaft ended in a loaf of flesh scalloped by five toenails. But she could not,
would not, stop, for when she did the little antelope rammed her with horns and
pawed the ground of her womb with impatient hooves. While she was walking, it
seemed to graze, quietly–so she walked, on two feet meant, in this sixth month
of pregnancy, for standing still. Still, near a kettle; still, at the churn;
still, at the tub and ironing board. Milk, sticky and sour on her dress,
attracted every small flying thing from gnats to grasshoppers.
By the time she reached the hill skirt she had long ago stopped waving
them off. The clanging in her head, begun as a churchbell heard from a
distance, was by then a tight cap of pealing bells around her ears. She sank
and had to look down to see whether she was in a hole or kneeling. Nothing was
alive but her nipples and the little antelope. Finally, she was horizontal–or
must have been because blades of wild onion were scratching her temple and her
cheek. Concerned as she was for the life of her children’s mother, Sethe told
Denver, she remembered thinking: “Well, at least I don’t have to take another
step.” A dying thought if ever there was one, and she waited for the little
antelope to protest, and why she thought of an antelope Sethe could not imagine
since she had never seen one. She guessed it must have been an invention held
on to from before Sweet Home, when she was very young. Of that place where she
was born (Carolina maybe? or was it Louisiana?) she remembered only song and
dance. Not even her own mother, who was pointed out to her by the eight-yearold child who watched over the young ones–pointed out as the one among many
backs turned away from her, stooping in a watery field. Patiently Sethe waited
for this particular back to gain the row’s end and stand. What she saw was a
cloth hat as opposed to a straw one, singularity enough in that world of cooing
women each of whom was called Ma’am.”Seth–thuh.”
“Hold on to the baby.”
“Yes, Ma’am.”
“Get some kindlin in here.”
“Yes, Ma’am.”
Oh but when they sang. And oh but when they danced and sometimes they
danced the antelope. The men as well as the ma’ams, one of whom was certainly
her own. They shifted shapes and became something other. Some unchained,
demanding other whose feet knew her pulse better than she did. Just like this
one in her stomach.
“I believe this baby’s ma’am is gonna die in wild onions on the bloody
side of the Ohio River.” That’s what was on her mind and what she told Denver.
Her exact words. And it didn’t seem such a bad idea, all in all, in view of the
step she would not have to take, but the thought of herself stretched out dead
while the little antelope lived on–an hour? a day? a day and a night?–in her
lifeless body grieved her so she made the groan that made the person walking on
a path not ten yards away halt and stand right still. Sethe had not heard the
walking, but suddenly she heard the standing still and then she smelled the
hair. The voice, saying, “Who’s in there?” was all she needed to know that she
was about to be discovered by a white boy. That he too had mossy teeth, an
appetite. That on a ridge of pine near the Ohio River, trying to get to her
three children, one of whom was starving for the food she carried; that after
her husband had disappeared; that after her milk had been stolen, her back
pulped, her children orphaned, she was not to have an easeful death. No.
She told Denver that a something came up out of the earth into her–like
a freezing, but moving too, like jaws inside. “Look like I was just cold jaws
grinding,” she said. Suddenly she was eager for his eyes, to bite into them; to
gnaw his cheek.
“I was hungry,” she told Denver, “just as hungry as I could be for his
eyes. I couldn’t wait.”
So she raised up on her elbow and dragged herself, one pull, two, three,
four, toward the young white voice talking about “Who that back in there?”
” ‘Come see,’ I was thinking. ‘Be the last thing you behold,’ and sure
enough here come the feet so I thought well that’s where I’ll have to start God
do what He would, I’m gonna eat his feet off. I’m laughing now, but it’s true.
I wasn’t just set to do it. I was hungry to do it. Like a snake. All jaws and
“It wasn’t no whiteboy at all. Was a girl. The raggediest-looking trash
you ever saw saying, ‘Look there. A nigger. If that don’t beat all.’ ”
And now the part Denver loved the best: Her name was Amy and she needed
beef and pot liquor like nobody in this world. Arms like cane stalks and enough
hair for four or five heads. Slow-moving eyes. She didn’t look at anything
Talked so much it wasn’t clear how she could breathe at the same time.
And those cane-stalk arms, as it turned out, were as strong as iron.
“You ’bout the scariest-looking something I ever seen. What you doing
back up in here?”
Down in the grass, like the snake she believed she was, Sethe opened her
mouth, and instead of fangs and a split tongue, out shot the truth.
“Running,” Sethe told her. It was the first word she had spoken all day
and it came out thick because of her tender tongue.
“Them the feet you running on? My Jesus my.” She squatted down and stared
at Sethe’s feet. “You got anything on you, gal, pass for food?”
“No.” Sethe tried to shift to a sitting position but couldn t.”I like to die I’m so hungry.” The girl moved her eyes slowly, examining
the greenery around her. “Thought there’d be huckleberries.
Look like it. That’s why I come up in here. Didn’t expect to find no
nigger woman. If they was any, birds ate em. You like huckleberries?”
“I’m having a baby, miss.”
Amy looked at her. “That mean you don’t have no appetite? Well I got to
eat me something.”
Combing her hair with her fingers, she carefully surveyed the landscape
once more. Satisfied nothing edible was around, she stood up to go and Sethe’s
heart stood up too at the thought of being left alone in the grass without a
fang in her head.
“Where you on your way to, miss?”
She turned and looked at Sethe with freshly lit eyes. “Boston. Get me
some velvet. It’s a store there called Wilson. I seen the pictures of it and
they have the prettiest velvet. They don’t believe I’m a get it, but I am.”
Sethe nodded and shifted her elbow. “Your ma’am know you on the lookout
for velvet?”
The girl shook her hair out of her face. “My mama worked for these here
people to pay for her passage. But then she had me and since she died right
after, well, they said I had to work for em to pay it off. I did, but now I
want me some velvet.”
They did not look directly at each other, not straight into the eyes
anyway. Yet they slipped effortlessly into yard chat about nothing in
particular–except one lay on the ground.
“Boston,” said Sethe. “Is that far?”
“Ooooh, yeah. A hundred miles. Maybe more.”
“Must be velvet closer by.”
“Not like in Boston. Boston got the best. Be so pretty on me.
You ever touch it?”
“No, miss. I never touched no velvet.” Sethe didn’t know if it was the
voice, or Boston or velvet, but while the whitegirl talked, the baby slept. Not
one butt or kick, so she guessed her luck had turned.
“Ever see any?” she asked Sethe. “I bet you never even seen any.”
“If I did I didn’t know it. What’s it like, velvet?”
Amy dragged her eyes over Sethe’s face as though she would never give out
so confidential a piece of information as that to a perfect stranger.
“What they call you?” she asked.
However far she was from Sweet Home, there was no point in giving out her
real name to the first person she saw. “Lu,” said Sethe.
“They call me Lu.”
“Well, Lu, velvet is like the world was just born. Clean and new and so
smooth. The velvet I seen was brown, but in Boston they got all colors.
Carmine. That means red but when you talk about velvet you got to say
‘carmine.’ ” She raised her eyes to the sky and then, as though she had wasted
enough time away from Boston, she moved off saying, “I gotta go.”
Picking her way through the brush she hollered back to Sethe, “What you
gonna do, just lay there and foal?”
“I can’t get up from here,” said Sethe.
“What?” She stopped and turned to hear.
“I said I can’t get up.”
Amy drew her arm across her nose and came slowly back to where Sethe lay.
“It’s a house back yonder,” she said.
“A house?”
“Mmmmm. I passed it. Ain’t no regular house with people in it though. A
lean-to, kinda.”
“How far?”
“Make a difference, does it? You stay the night here snake get you.””Well he may as well come on. I can’t stand up let alone walk and God
help me, miss, I can’t crawl.”
“Sure you can, Lu. Come on,” said Amy and, with a toss of hair enough for
five heads, she moved toward the path.
So she crawled and Amy walked alongside her, and when Sethe needed to
rest, Amy stopped too and talked some more about Boston and velvet and good
things to eat. The sound of that voice, like a sixteen-year-old boy’s, going on
and on and on, kept the little antelope quiet and grazing. During the whole
hateful crawl to the lean to, it never bucked once.
Nothing of Sethe’s was intact by the time they reached it except the
cloth that covered her hair. Below her bloody knees, there was no feeling at
all; her chest was two cushions of pins. It was the voice full of velvet and
Boston and good things to eat that urged her along and made her think that
maybe she wasn’t, after all, just a crawling graveyard for a six-month baby’s
last hours.
The lean-to was full of leaves, which Amy pushed into a pile for Sethe to
lie on. Then she gathered rocks, covered them with more leaves and made Sethe
put her feet on them, saying: “I know a woman had her feet cut off they was so
swole.” And she made sawing gestures with the blade of her hand across Sethe’s
ankles. “Zzz Zzz Zzz Zzz.”
“I used to be a good size. Nice arms and everything. Wouldn’t think it,
would you? That was before they put me in the root cellar.
I was fishing off the Beaver once. Catfish in Beaver River sweet as
chicken. Well I was just fishing there and a nigger floated right by me. I
don’t like drowned people, you? Your feet remind me of him.
All swole like.”
Then she did the magic: lifted Sethe’s feet and legs and massaged them
until she cried salt tears.
“It’s gonna hurt, now,” said Amy. “Anything dead coming back to life
A truth for all times, thought Denver. Maybe the white dress holding its
arm around her mother’s waist was in pain. If so, it could mean the baby ghost
had plans. When she opened the door, Sethe was just leaving the keeping room.
“I saw a white dress holding on to you,” Denver said.
“White? Maybe it was my bedding dress. Describe it to me.”
“Had a high neck. Whole mess of buttons coming down the back.”
“Buttons. Well, that lets out my bedding dress. I never had a button on
“Did Grandma Baby?”
Sethe shook her head. “She couldn’t handle them. Even on her shoes. What
“A bunch at the back. On the sit-down part.”
“A bustle? It had a bustle?”
“I don’t know what it’s called.”
“Sort of gathered-like? Below the waist in the back?”
“Um hm.”
“A rich lady’s dress. Silk?”
“Cotton, look like.”
“Lisle probably. White cotton lisle. You say it was holding on to me.
“Like you. It looked just like you. Kneeling next to you while you were
praying. Had its arm around your waist.”
“Well, I’ll be.”
“What were you praying for, Ma’am?”
“Not for anything. I don’t pray anymore. I just talk.”
“What were you talking about?”
“You won’t understand, baby.””Yes, I will.”
“I was talking about time. It’s so hard for me to believe in it.
Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my
rememory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s
not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the
place–the picture of it–stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in
the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my
head. I mean, even if I don’t think it, even if I die, the picture of what I
did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.”
“Can other people see it?” asked Denver.
“Oh, yes. Oh, yes, yes, yes. Someday you be walking down the road and you
hear something or see something going on. So clear.
And you think it’s you thinking it up. A thought picture. But no. It’s
when you bump into a rememory that belongs to somebody else.
Where I was before I came here, that place is real. It’s never going
away. Even if the whole farm–every tree and grass blade of it dies.
The picture is still there and what’s more, if you go there–you who
never was there–if you go there and stand in the place where it was, it will
happen again; it will be there for you, waiting for you. So, Denver, you can’t
never go there. Never. Because even though it’s all over–over and done with–
it’s going to always be there waiting for you. That’s how come I had to get all
my children out. No matter what.”
Denver picked at her fingernails. “If it’s still there, waiting, that
must mean that nothing ever dies.”
Sethe looked right in Denver’s face. “Nothing ever does,” she said.
“You never told me all what happened. Just that they whipped you and you
run off, pregnant. With me.”
“Nothing to tell except schoolteacher. He was a little man. Short.
Always wore a collar, even in the fields. A schoolteacher, she said.
That made her feel good that her husband’s sister’s husband had book
learning and was willing to come farm Sweet Home after Mr.
Garner passed. The men could have done it, even with Paul F sold.
But it was like Halle said. She didn’t want to be the only white person
on the farm and a woman too. So she was satisfied when the schoolteacher agreed
to come. He brought two boys with him. Sons or nephews. I don’t know. They
called him Onka and had pretty man ners, all of em. Talked soft and spit in
handkerchiefs. Gentle in a lot of ways. You know, the kind who know Jesus by
His first name, but out of politeness never use it even to His face. A pretty
good farmer, Halle said. Not strong as Mr. Garner but smart enough. He liked
the ink I made. It was her recipe, but he preferred how I mixed it and it was
important to him because at night he sat down to write in his book. It was a
book about us but we didn’t know that right away. We just thought it was his
manner to ask us questions. He commenced to carry round a notebook and write
down what we said. I still think it was them questions that tore Sixo up. Tore
him up for all time.”
She stopped.
Denver knew that her mother was through with it–for now anyway. The
single slow blink of her eyes; the bottom lip sliding up slowly to cover the
top; and then a nostril sigh, like the snuff of a candle flame–signs that
Sethe had reached the point beyond which she would not go.
“Well, I think the baby got plans,” said Denver.
“What plans?”
“I don’t know, but the dress holding on to you got to mean something.”
“Maybe,” said Sethe. “Maybe it does have plans.”
Whatever they were or might have been, Paul D messed them up for good.
With a table and a loud male voice he had rid 124 of its claim to local fame.
Denver had taught herself to take pride in the condemnation Negroes heaped onthem; the assumption that the haunting was done by an evil thing looking for
more. None of them knew the downright pleasure of enchantment, of not
suspecting but knowing the things behind things. Her brothers had known, but it
scared them; Grandma Baby knew, but it saddened her. None could appreciate the
safety of ghost company. Even Sethe didn’t love it.
She just took it for granted–like a sudden change in the weather.
But it was gone now. Whooshed away in the blast of a hazelnut man’s
shout, leaving Denver’s world flat, mostly, with the exception of an emerald
closet standing seven feet high in the woods. Her mother had secrets–things
she wouldn’t tell; things she halfway told.
Well, Denver had them too. And hers were sweet–sweet as lily-of-thevalley cologne.
Sethe had given little thought to the white dress until Paul D came, and
then she remembered Denver’s interpretation: plans. The morning after the first
night with Paul D, Sethe smiled just thinking about what the word could mean.
It was a luxury she had not had in eighteen years and only that once. Before
and since, all her effort was directed not on avoiding pain but on getting
through it as quickly as possible. The one set of plans she had made–getting
away from Sweet Home–went awry so completely she never dared life by making
Yet the morning she woke up next to Paul D, the word her daughter had
used a few years ago did cross her mind and she thought about what Denver had
seen kneeling next to her, and thought also of the temptation to trust and
remember that gripped her as she stood before the cooking stove in his arms.
Would it be all right? Would it be all right to go ahead and feel? Go ahead and
count on something?
She couldn’t think clearly, lying next to him listening to his breathing,
so carefully, carefully, she had left the bed.
Kneeling in the keeping room where she usually went to talk-think it was
clear why Baby Suggs was so starved for color. There wasn’t any except for two
orange squares in a quilt that made the absence shout. The walls of the room
were slate-colored, the floor earth-brown, the wooden dresser the color of
itself, curtains white, and the dominating feature, the quilt over an iron cot,
was made up of scraps of blue serge, black, brown and gray wool–the full range
of the dark and the muted that thrift and modesty allowed. In that sober field,
two patches of orange looked wild–like life in the raw.
Sethe looked at her hands, her bottle-green sleeves, and thought how
little color there was in the house and how strange that she had not missed it
the way Baby did. Deliberate, she thought, it must be deliberate, because the
last color she remembered was the pink chips in the headstone of her baby girl.
After that she became as color conscious as a hen. Every dawn she worked at
fruit pies, potato dishes and vegetables while the cook did the soup, meat and
all the rest. And she could not remember remembering a molly apple or a yellow
squash. Every dawn she saw the dawn, but never acknowledged or remarked its
color. There was something wrong with that.
It was as though one day she saw red baby blood, another day the pink
gravestone chips, and that was the last of it.
124 was so full of strong feeling perhaps she was oblivious to the loss
of anything at all. There was a time when she scanned the fields every morning
and every evening for her boys. When she stood at the open window, unmindful of
flies, her head cocked to her left shoulder, her eyes searching to the right
for them. Cloud shadow on the road, an old woman, a wandering goat untethered
and gnawing bramble–each one looked at first like Howard–no, Buglar. Little
by little she stopped and their thirteen-year-old faces faded completely into
their baby ones, which came to her only in sleep. When her dreams roamed
outside 124, anywhere they wished, she saw them sometimes in beautiful trees,
their little legs barely visible in the leaves.Sometimes they ran along the railroad track laughing, too loud,
apparently, to hear her because they never did turn around. When she woke the
house crowded in on her: there was the door where the soda crackers were lined
up in a row; the white stairs her baby girl loved to climb; the corner where
Baby Suggs mended shoes, a pile of which were still in the cold room; the exact
place on the stove where Denver burned her fingers. And of course the spite of
the house itself. There was no room for any other thing or body until Paul D
arrived and broke up the place, making room, shifting it, moving it over to
someplace else, then standing in the place he had made.
So, kneeling in the keeping room the morning after Paul D came, she was
distracted by the two orange squares that signaled how barren 124 really was.
He was responsible for that. Emotions sped to the surface in his company.
Things became what they were: drabness looked drab; heat was hot. Windows
suddenly had view. And wouldn’t you know he’d be a singing man.
Little rice, little bean,
No meat in between.
Hard work ain’t easy,
Dry bread ain’t greasy.
He was up now and singing as he mended things he had broken the day
before. Some old pieces of song he’d learned on the prison farm or in the War
afterward. Nothing like what they sang at Sweet Home, where yearning fashioned
every note.
The songs he knew from Georgia were flat-headed nails for pounding and
pounding and pounding.
Lay my bead on the railroad line,
Train come along, pacify my mind.
If I had my weight in lime,
I’d whip my captain till he went stone blind.
Five-cent nickel, Ten-cent dime,
Busting rocks is busting time.
But they didn’t fit, these songs. They were too loud, had too much power
for the little house chores he was engaged in–resetting table legs; glazing.
He couldn’t go back to “Storm upon the Waters” that they sang under the
trees of Sweet Home, so he contented himself with mmmmmmmmm, throwing in a line
if one occurred to him, and what occurred over and over was “Bare feet and
chamomile sap,/ Took off my shoes; took off my hat.”
It was tempting to change the words (Gimme back my shoes; gimme back my
hat), because he didn’t believe he could live with a woman–any woman–for over
two out of three months. That was about as long as he could abide one place.
After Delaware and before that Alfred, Georgia, where he slept underground and
crawled into sunlight for the sole purpose of breaking rock, walking off when
he got ready was the only way he could convince himself that he would no longer
have to sleep, pee, eat or swing a sledge hammer in chains.
But this was not a normal woman in a normal house. As soon as he had
stepped through the red light he knew that, compared to 124, the rest of the
world was bald. After Alfred he had shut down a generous portion of his head,
operating on the part that helped him walk, eat, sleep, sing. If he could do
those things–with a little work and a little sex thrown in–he asked for no
more, for more required him to dwell on Halle’s face and Sixo laughing. To
recall trembling in a box built into the ground. Grateful for the daylightspent doing mule work in a quarry because he did not tremble when he had a
hammer in his hands. The box had done what Sweet Home had not, what working
like an ass and living like a dog had not: drove him crazy so he would not lose
his mind.
By the time he got to Ohio, then to Cincinnati, then to Halle Suggs’
mother’s house, he thought he had seen and felt it all. Even now as he put back
the window frame he had smashed, he could not account for the pleasure in his
surprise at seeing Halle’s wife alive, barefoot with uncovered hair–walking
around the corner of the house with her shoes and stockings in her hands. The
closed portion of his head opened like a greased lock.
“I was thinking of looking for work around here.

Experience at BHS

My visit to BHS was very exciting because I learned many things which i didnt know before. During my first encounter at BHS we learned many new things about Brooklyn such as, long before i was born there were railroad tracks on the streets we drive on currently. The maps were very different now then it was before. The second visit to BHS we learned about how runaway slaves were put on newspaper ads and there was a list description of which specify the runaway slave. Slaves were treated very harshly. It was eye opening experiencing at BHS because we were able to inspect certain materials first hand. Overall it was a great learning experience and i look forward to going back at BHS again in the near future.

Group 5 (Damaris, Crystal, Curt, and Yoshiko)- BHS Runaway Slave Ads

On our recent trip to the Brooklyn Historical Society, we saw two clippings of wanted runaway slave advertisements, with the end goal being that we had to compare the two advertisements to the events in Toni Morrison’s Beloved. They were both roughly 2.5 x 3 in size. The clippings themselves had been faded with time, but still legible overall. Our group specifically looked at two newspaper clippings in which rewards were posted in search of runaway slaves.

According to the chapter “Profile of a Runaway”, the type of slave most likely to attempt escape were male field-hands in their late teens/early twenties, and these two runaway’s fit the standard description. These newspaper ads, most likely written and funded by the slave owners, had the language and the tone of an open ad for any lost object, the reward being twenty/twenty five dollars. They consisted of short paragraphs that described the workers’ location, looks and their skills. The clothes they wore while making their escape played a particularly important role, especially if the slave did not bring a change of clothing. In these advertisements, they were described as wearing homespun vests, suits, trousers, and hats. The location was also a standout feature, as it confirms the existence of slavery close to home (in this case, Queens County/Great Neck, Long Island).

The skills and appearance of the runaway slaves played a significant role to the ad; these things determined the “worth” of the slave concerning the reward price. This mirrors the information the “Runaway Slave Profile” text, which speaks to how, the lighter complexion, the “better” a slave may have been treated and may have been “worth”. One of the ads describes a slave’s complexion as “yellow”, and according to the statements made in the “Runaway Slave Profile,” it is no coincidence that the ad featured this description.

In applying this to Beloved, Sethe and Paul D were both runaway’s when they escaped Sweet Home and headed north for Ohio. To this end, they had to walk across a path that ran through a mountainous forest and river. Beforehand, Sethe had been raped and beaten. She was pregnant throughout her escape, and went into labor before she’d reached her destination. Paul D, on the other hand, ran to avoid being sold of to another plantation. As such, their circumstances were far more severe than the slaves in the wanted ad—at least, from what we know.

Group 4

The picture on the left is document 1 from the original group 4. It is a newspaper from 1800s. The publication is from the Corrector, Sag Harbor, Long Island, vol. IV, no.6, June 4, 1825, 1975.1391; Broadside collection, box 3; Brooklyn Historical Society. It looks like pages of different advertisements. The ad about the runaway slave is located on the third page of the newspaper. It was on upper right side of the page. The ad section were small. However, we were easily able to find it because it had a small dark picture of a person looking like he\she is running. The title of the ad is “Six Cents Reward, AND NO CHARGES PAID.” The ad is in black ink and the picture of the slave is dark, maybe it’s because the slave is black so they purposely print the picture darker so people can know the slave is black. The ad is about the owner looking for their runaway slave and they will reward 6 cents to anyone who find the slave. On the ad, it describes the characteristics of the slave. It provided his name, age, height, color, appearance, and outfit that he is wearing when he runaway. Also the last sentence on the ad says whoever tries to hide the slave or hiring him to work will be on penalty of the law.

Transcription of Document 1:

Six Cents Reward, AND NO CHARGES PAID.

RANAWAY from the Subscriber, on the 25th of April last, an indented boy, named, Edward Decay, aged, 18 years, about five feet, two inches high, thick set, and of a yellowish complexion, with thick lips, and very large feet, is remarkable fond of singing, dancing and swearing, had on when he went away, a short woolen jacket, with wide stripes, running round the body, mixed trowsers and naped hat, Whoever will return said boy, shall be entitled to the above reward, and all persons are forbid harboring, or employing him, on penalty of the law. HENRY P. OSBORN. Moriches May 30 No53w

The picture on the right side is document 2. It is a page of list of ads about the runaway slaves. On the ad, the title is 20 dollars reward. The size of the ad is small with a picture of a boy on the left. Its color is black and once again the picture of the boy is dark because the boy is black. The ad describes the characteristics of the slave with providing his name, age, height, where he escaped from, clothing, and the day he ran away. The day of the ad is in between June 2 – 10

Transcriptions of the document 2:


RUNAWAY from the subscriber on the 30th May last, a griff named LOUIS, creole of this country, speaks french and english, about 22 years old, 5 feet 5 or 6 inches, strong built. He had a pair of blue cotton trowsers and a gingham shirt. Captains of ships and stream boats ar cautioned not to harbour him under the penalties of the law.



In beloved, Seth is description on the news is quite different than the runaway slave in document 1 because as oppose to Edward Devay, Seth wasn’t in the new just because she had run away, she was in it because she did something worse than that, something cruel. So cruel it made the news. Seth had killed her baby daughter and believes to kill her sons also because she didn’t want them to go back to slavery.

Looking at the description of the slave in document one. It is clear that he falls into Franklin runaway profile. In Franklin runaway slave profile It is mentioned that most of the runaways were between the age of 13 to 29. Most of them were describe as very black, jet black or dark skin. However, a few of them were also described as yellowish, yellow, red, mullato and so on. Moreover, they didn’t have the same skills. If you were describe as yellowish you were more likely to be literate as a black man and you would most likely work as waiters, barber, cooks or tailors. Yellow were treated better than a dark skin slave and sort of worth less when they runaways. Therefore if we go back the document 1, we can conclude that it is quite similar to Franklin runaway slaves.

Both documents are also different form beloved. Seth add on the news to be more specific because as oppose to the runaways she was in the news because she had ran away she was there because she did something cruel . She had killed her baby by cutting her throat.


Why does Sethe go to the Clearing? To connect with Baby Suggs

Sethe feels that she needs to go to the clearing where Baby Suggs is going to preach. Baby Suggs does not give a preach but tells black individuals to be themselves to love, dance, smile and to love their bodies. Sethes decides to go there to show appreciation to Halle but also she feels as she has to find common interests with Baby Suggs spirits. It then comes to her mind that Baby suggs passed away in anguish, sorrow and poisoned by the whites without any hope for the future. When Amy had departed and Sethe was by herself, she walked until she discovered a black man with two young boys. The black man was Stamp paid who gave her material goods such as eel and and a coat so she can carry her young one. He had left her at a station by herself, where a woman named Ella had come to pick her up from the station. Ella bought Sethe to Baby Suggs. Baby Suggs gave Sethe a bath. Slowly Sethe began her life as a free woman. Sethe had finally seen her third child since she sent her with the railroad. Sethe was very happy that she was free now as a slave she felt as if it was still a dream. When Sethe was at the clearing with Denver and Beloved, Sethe tries to feel Baby Suggs existence. Sethe has all these imaginary thoughts and feelings about Baby Suggs. Sethe also decides she wants Paul D back in her life.


The Anonymous Narrator

The primary narrator in the “Beloved” is unknown for the readers. The narrator is not physically present in the story, but the narrator has access to everything. So I would say the narrator of “Beloved” is anonymous and omniscient. The anonymous narrator has narrated the story in the third person. The anonymous narrator does not only narrate the story but also the story is the collective narration of flashback of the characters. So when the characters express their feelings and look back into their memory, they use the first person.

The narrator has narrated the story with lots of detail information. In other words, the story gives the readers detail picture of everything that is taking place in the story whether it is the conversation between the characters, feelings of the character or the description of a scenario. “Kneeling in the keeping room where she usually went to talk-think it was clear why Baby Suggs was so starved for color. There wasn’t any except for two orange squares in a quilt that made the absence shout. The walls of the room were slate-colored, the floor earth-brown, the wooden dresser the color of itself, curtains white, and the dominating feature, the quilt over an iron cot, was made up of scraps of blue serge, black, brown and gray wool-the full range of the dark and the muted that thrift and modesty allowed.”(Page 38) In the above paragraph from the story, the description of a room is written using very detail information such as the colors, the position, features and so on. Narrating the story in such a detail way makes the readers as if they are the part of the story and the readers are actually witnessing the scenario.

Meaning of Memory: based on Beloved

The definition of memory is the store of things learned and retained from an organism’s activity or experience as evidenced by modification of structure or behavior or by recall and recognition . Through out reading Beloved by Toni Morrison, memory has a meaning of negativity and sense of remorse. The beginning on the story starts off with the recap of Sethe’s family history. For example, Baby Sugg’s death and Beloved’s death. In page 4 of the book, the narrator describes her life as “intorable [..] since she knew death was anything for forgetfulness […].” Sethe and her daughter, Denver, kept bringing up the fact that they felt a haunting presence in the house that they were living in. When Paul D came back for a visit, after 18 years, they tell him about the haunted vibes, and say, “It’s not evil, just sad. Come on. Just step through.” While reading that, I had a feeling that they had a deep pain in them that they can’t let go of. They feel a presence but they aren’t afraid, but they also aren’t ready to approach it because it would open up memories of things that they aren’t ready to cope with. Just like Paul D began to tell Sethe about Mister. He explains to her that he felt like he was less than an animal: simply not human. Paul D told Sethe that, “Mister was allowed to be and stay what he was. But [he] wasn’t allowed to be and stay what [he] was.” He doesn’t want to relive the past.  Another example is when Beloved comes back into the house later on in the book, Denver is the only one who seems to notice who it is during their talk and it’s a dark conversation, and the only light memory comes afterwards when she asks Denver about the story of her birth. I personally think that the fact that they had such a rough past and the negativity and rejection colored people had gotten affected them from thinking positive over negative. Memory, based on this book, is defined by your past and how you were effected by it.


“Ten minutes for seven letters. With another ten could she have gotten
“Dearly” too? She had not thought to ask him and it bothered her still that it
might have been possible–that for twenty minutes, a half hour, say, she could
have had the whole thing, every word she heard the preacher say at the funeral
(and all there was to say, surely) engraved on her baby’s headstone: Dearly
Beloved. But what she got, settled for, was the one word that mattered. She
thought it would be enough, rutting among the headstones with the engraver, his
young son looking on, the anger in his face so old; the appetite in it quite
new. That should certainly be enough. Enough to answer one more preacher, one
more abolitionist and a town full of disgust.
Counting on the stillness of her own soul, she had forgotten the other
one: the soul of her baby girl. Who would have thought that a little old baby
could harbor so much rage? Rutting among the stones under the eyes of the
engraver’s son was not enough. Not only did she have to live out her years in a
house palsied by the baby’s fury at having its throat cut, but those ten
minutes she spent pressed up against dawn-colored stone studded with star
chips, her knees wide open as the grave, were longer than life, more alive,
more pulsating than the baby blood that soaked her fingers like oil.”

This passage says a lot about memory. It talks about her very little memory that she remembers of  her last baby, called Beloved. This memory was good and bad,it was good because she got to say her goodbyes and carve her stone headstone with her words and bad because she had to say goodbye. In this memory Sethe is fulfilling her yearning of her daughter by remembering the little time she had with her. Most of the time Sethe is thinking about all her memories with her children, which shows how she cared for about them more than herself and would do anything for them. For Sethe, everything that is going on in the present is a struggle because of her past and how her memories keep reliving.

“You lucky. You got three left.Three pulling at your skirts and just one raising hell from the other side. Be thankful, why don’t you? I had eight. Every one of them gone away from me. Four taken, four chased, and all, I expect, worrying somebody’s house into evil.” Baby Suggs rubbed her eyebrows.” In these sentences, it shows how their memory is the only thing they have left of most of their children, but for Baby Suggs, all 8 of them, which is why memory is so important to them.

“You forgetting how little it is,” said her mother. “She wasn’t even two
years old when she died. Too little to understand. Too little to talk much
even.” – this passage helps me understand that the memory seems very clear to Sethe as if her baby is still in the house living with them. Also, how she misses her baby so much and is angry so she keep the memory there to comfort her.


Additional midterm-exam information

Some of you have asked about the short-answer portion of the midterm exam. Here’s a description: there will be a list of terms from “Elements of Fiction” (don’t forget to look at all the sections of the site, not just the home page!) and from the list I posted on the blog (there is a lot of overlap, but some terms are only in one place or the other). There will also be a list of passages from our readings this semester. You will have to identify which term is an appropriate label for that passage AND explain why in a sentence or two. There might be more than one right answer, for example, if a passage is an example of first-person narration and setting–either would be correct in that case. You will not get credit, though, if you do not provide an explanation of why it is the appropriate label, since I won’t know if you know the terms or are just guessing.

Bonus points for correctly identifying the source of the passage!

Also, I added a new poll to the sidebar–I’m curious to know your interests for the essay topics. You can choose up to three in the poll.