Ten minutes for seven letters

I want to choose the passage in the beginning of the story on page 5, paragraph 4, 5, and 6.

What stood out to me was the nonchalance air that the section had.

“Ten minutes for seven letters”. This stood out to me a lot because it is the first look at how much she loved her children. It never explicitly tells the reader what exactly this line means. But it is implied that she was willing to give the engraver ten minutes of sexual pleasure in exchange for the 7 letter of beloved to be engraved on her baby daughter’s tombstone. She was even willing to give another ten minutes or maybe even thirty in order to engrave the word Dearly as well.

She was counting on the stillness of her soul, as in she gave her soul away in order to provide and give something deserving to her daughter who had died at such a young age.

She knows that she has repressed her own soul to do this but the only thing she cared about was the soul of her daughter and how it may have raged her more. She believes that as long as her daughter comes and listens to her, she will understand how much Sethe really loves her daughter.

Another detail that explains that she’s lost her soul was how she kept referring to her knees being wide open like the ‘grave’. She was willing to lose a bit of herself to engrave those letters for her daughter because she truly was her beloved.

Something to think about: was she feeling guilty about killing her daughter even though she justifies it? Is she torturing herself to keep herself sane, staying in the house, succumbing to sexual advances of the engraver?

Another thing that crossed my mind when reading this passage is, what is her daughter’s real name? We know that Beloved is not her real name because it was something the preacher had read in the funeral that resonated with Sethe.

It brings to mind the lack of independence Africans had before and after the Civil War. Names are independent of each individual. When her daughter died, she is only referred to as beloved in the story and never by her actual birth name. I feel that beloved is a word of ownership. You have to be someone or something’s beloved. In this way, her daughter (in a way) will always be hers and will always stay with her.


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