Quoting Beloved

INTRODUCE:  Stamp Paid made a difficult decision to tell Paul D about Sethe’s past.  When he finally did Paul D was shocked.  In an effort to further elaborate on the unfortunate events that day the narrator explained Stamp Paid thoughts on page 89 of my reading `by stating,

QUOTE:  “Stamp Paid looked at him….He was going to tell him that, because he thought it was important: why he and Baby Suggs both missed it.  And about the party too, because that explained why nobody ran on ahead, why nobody sent a fleet footed son to cut ‘cross a field soon as they saw the four horses in town hitched for watering while the riders asked questions.  Not Ella, not John, not anybody ran down to Bluestone Road, to say some new white folk with the look just rode in.  The righteous look every Negro learned to recognize along with his ma’am tit.  Like a flag hoisted, this righteousness telegraphed and announce the faggots the whip, the fist, the lie long before it went public.”

INTERPRET:   Stamp Paid felt compelled to explain to the shocked Paul D why nothing was done to prevent Sethe from reaching her breaking point that day.  He felt he had to let Paul D understand that he and Baby Suggs had a feeling something was wrong but did not pinpoint the problem until too late.   He wanted to offer an explanation about why no one in town sent a warning to Bluestone Road.  He wanted to tell him Baby Suggs and given a big party the day before and exhaustion could have contributed to the inattention the town gave the new arrivals.   After all, it was a time in slavery when strangers who rode into town stood out and everyone heard of their arrival quickly.   Strange white men who had a certain way of carrying themselves were viewed with more suspicion than usual.

ANALYZE:  In other words as shocked as Paul D was about Sethe snatching up her children and taking them to the wood shed where she succeeded in killing one and attempted to kill the others, Stamp Paid felt deep down, just by the look on Paul D’s face that he was also shocked that no one warned Sethe and the other occupants at Bluestone Road that these men were coming.   The author elaborated that not Ella or John made an effort to send a warning because we have come to know Ella and John as being absolutely against slavery and did everything they could to protect Negroes.  They made it their duty to know what was going on so they could help in any way they could. On that particular day they failed Sethe’s family, the same family they so valiantly helped to escape slavery.  Stamp Paid felt he was obligated to offer an explanation as to why Ella, John and the rest of the town did not warn the family.  He wanted to make him understand that although the men had the look that indicated they were slave catchers asking questions to track down escaped slaves in order to recapture and probably beat, torture and quote passages from for the bible to support the need of Negroes to remain in slavery, no one came with a warning, no one helped Sethe that day to hide herself and her children before it was too late.

Apply:  The quotation mentioned above is important to what is considered a pivotal moment in the novel.  This is the moment where the arrival of the slave catchers led to the death of the crawling already baby who later made her supernatural presence known at Bluestone Road.  After being driven out by Paul D it reincarnated as Beloved the character that drives the main plot of the story.

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