This image of a hat is a representation of what can be described as the trigger that set Sethe in motion and led her to gather her children and take them to the woodshed where she felt they would be safe. In the woodshed the most pivotal moment in the novel occurred. She managed to kill her first daughter on whose headstone the word, “Beloved,” the only word Sethe could afford was inscribed.
It was by chance that Sethe was squatting in the garden and manage to see Schoolteacher’s hat hovering above the garden fence before he saw her. She knew his presence there, at the house at 124 Bluestone meant only one thing, a return to slavery for her and her children. Sethe had experienced slavery and knew its harsh realities. She knew what it was like to be beaten, treated and classified as an animal and not able to love anything or anyone for fear they could be separated and killed or sold at any time. Noticing the hat before the wearer saw her gave her a head start that changed the course of her life and that of her family. Her mind and body worked at high speed, pushing, shoving and dragging her children into the woodshed. Then she lost all rationality, “no, no, nonono,” she repeated as she made the decision that death was safer than slavery for her and her children. That was the worse decision of her life. This is because after that unfortunate day, not only did she have to live with her conscience she also had to live in a house haunted by the baby, endured being shunned by the towns people and the loss of her two sons who ran away from her. Her worst suffering came when Beloved the reincarnation of the dead baby returned for revenge.