All posts by Rena

Commodity

Commodity

noun commodity \k蓹-m盲-d蓹-t膿\

: something that is bought and sold

: something or someone that is useful or valued

2
a :聽 something useful or valued <that valuable commodity patience>; also :thing, entity

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/commodity
The Shawl by Louise Erdrich Paragraph 12 – “I got my growth earlier than some boys, and, one night when I was thirteen and Doris and Raymond and I were sitting around wishing for something besides the oatmeal and commodity canned milk I’d stashed so he couldn’t sell them, I heard him coming down the road.”I understand that commodity means that the canned milk was something that they bought and is of some value that the father can sell for alcohol perhaps. This is why the boy and his siblings need to stash it away so it won’t be sold.

Feeble

feeble

: very weak

: not good enough : not successful or effective

feebler \-b(蓹-)l蓹r\ feeblest \-b(蓹-)l蓹st\

1
a :聽 markedly lacking in strength

b :聽 indicating weakness

2
a :聽 deficient in qualities or resources that indicate vigor, authority, force, or efficiency
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feeblePage 310 paragraph 1 – “Here Boy, feeble and shedding his coat in patches, is asleep聽by the pump, so聽Paul D knows Beloved is truly gone.”

I understand that Here聽Boy is just sleeping in the house, weak and lacking strength 聽by the way the situation is described in the sentence. He is just laying there shedding off the patches on his skin.

Claimed.

The need for possession is a reoccurring theme in Beloved that gives readers an insight of the turmoil and pain experienced during the time of slavery. This theme is ironic because as a slave, the characters in the story possessed nothing, being the possession of someone else. There is a need to own something of their own even though they do not even hold possession of themselves. This can be seen in the pivotal passage in Beloved that occurred on pages 192-193 when Paul D finds out what exactly happened in 124 and what Sethe has done in the house. The story of Sethe actually begins with the killing of her own daughter in order to protect her from going back to the Sweet Home under the watch of the schoolteacher. Without this killing, there would not be a haunted house that confined both Sethe and Denver. The ultimate need for possession can be seen with Sethe鈥檚 infanticide in order to keep her children for herself.

Sethe justifies her murder by saying, 鈥淚 stopped him, I took and put my babies where they’d be safe” (Morrison 2004: 193). In this pivotal quote, readers can see that Sethe went to ultimate measures to claim what is hers. She wasn’t willing to give away that claim to the schoolteacher. And now, Beloved will always be hers only, and no one else’s. Only in Sethe鈥檚 possession would her children be safe from the schoolteacher and his nephews. This was a pivotal part of the story because it’s what drives all the events that happens afterwards while also explaining the turmoil of slavery to be in possession of someone else and how this turmoil makes you want to hold on even more to that little bit that you do own.

This sort of possession and love was chastised by Paul D when he say, “your love is too thick” (Morrison 2004: 193). Toni Morrison also explains that, “suddenly he saw what Stamp Paid wanted him to see: more important than what Sethe had done was what she claimed” (Morrison 2004: 193). To claim something is dangerous in the slavery world because their claims are never forever and that is why Paul D calls it too thick. Throughout the story, we see the characters trying to claim something. They could never claim anything because they were slaves, they couldn’t even put a claim on themselves. Paul D, Denver, and Beloved wanted to claim Sethe’s love for themselves. They’ve never known what it feels to hold a claim on something and they each have this thirst to finally claim something.

Another claim that can be seen was Sethe鈥檚 continuous claim to her daughter after she has died. Sethe gave “ten minutes for seven letters” (Morrison 2004: 5). 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 letters of beloved to be engraved on her baby daughter’s tombstone. It brings to mind the lack of independence Africans had before and after the Civil War. Names are independent for 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 will always be hers and will always stay with her.

The possession Sethe claims of her daughter can also be seen when Paul D complains about Sethe babying Denver. When Sethe apologizes for Denver, Paul D says, 鈥淚t means she has to take it if she acts up. You can鈥檛 protect her every minute. What鈥檚 going to happen when you die?鈥 (Morrison 2004: 54). In response, Sethe says 鈥淣othing! I鈥檒l protect her while I鈥檓 live and I鈥檒l protect her when I ain鈥檛鈥 (Morrison 2004: 54). In this quote, Sethe explains her claim to Denver and how even if Sethe can鈥檛 protect Denver physically in person, she will still be able to protect her. This passage foreshadows to Sethe鈥檚 claim to beloved and what measures she will take to protect her children. This is why she exclaims that she will protect her daughters no matter what, dead or alive.

No matter how much Sethe tried to claim what is hers, such as her children, she was still claimed by her past as a slave. Paul D says, “It occurred to him that what she wanted for her children was exactly what was missing in 124: safety” (Morrison 2004: 193). In a way, I feel that the author Toni Morrison is telling the readers that no matter how hard Sethe tried to run from the Sweet Home and cruelty of slavery, she will never be able to be a true free woman. She is still claimed and possessed by her past even though she is no longer a slave. This resonates with the readers when thinking about racism and prejudice in the world today. Even though slavery has ended and people are advocating for equality, there is a chance that it may never be achieved no matter how hard we try. Africans will always be possessed by the turmoil their ancestors must鈥檝e felt in slavery, and probably their own turmoil of racism.

The theme of possession is a struggle that can be seen throughout the story between Sethe鈥檚 hold on her children and slavery鈥檚 hold on Sethe. Of course the beginning of this turmoil is the beginning of slavery, but when Sethe tries to kill all her children in order to put a claim on them, readers are able to understand the pain and thought process of people in the time of slavery. Infanticide can be seen as an exit to slavery, a sort of blessing or safety, for a mother. Sethe believes that death is the only escape for her children to the cruelty to slavery. This allows readers to see the negativities of slavery besides what the naked eye can see such as physical abuse. Slavery is seen as something that is worse than death, something that could affect their kin several generations down. We are still experiencing the aftermath of slavery whether it is racism or prejudices. This brings to mind the question: when will slavery鈥檚 possession on civilization ever end?

Sedition

Sedition

: the crime of saying, writing, or doing something that encourages people to disobey their government

:聽 incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority

Over there.

“And if she thought anything, it was No. No. Nono. Nonono. Simple. She just flew. Collected every bit 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 could hurt them. Over there. Outside this place, where they would be safe.”

When Sethe sees the schoolteacher approaching, all she could think about is no, no and no. She refuses to let the schoolteacher take everything that is precious to her away from her. She collected all the parts of her, Beloved, Denver, Howard, and Buglar and tried to keep them safe by bringing them to a place where the schoolteacher can no longer reach them.

Sethe says that her rationale for doing what she did was ‘simple’. As if it was the only rational and reasonable thing to do. To push them over to the other side where it is safe. The only safe and rational place to Sethe is death. Once her precious, beautiful, and fine children die, they cannot be harmed by the turmoil of slavery, abuse of the schoolteacher anymore. Outside of the story, outside of slavery, readers would think that no matter what killing your own children is crazy and inhumane but Sethe makes it simple and rational.

This quote gives readers an insight of how inexplicable slavery is and how it dehumanizes a person beyond belief whether it is the slave owners or the slaves. It makes people do unimaginable things such as killing your own children because you love them too much. In order to stop her children from experiencing the pain that she’s experienced, she’s will to kill them to bring them to a better place.

Claimed.

I believe that the pivotal passage in Beloved occurred on pages 192-193 when Paul D finds out what exactly happened in 124 and what Sethe has done in the house.

Some quotes that were pivotal:
“I stopped him,” she said, staring at the place where the fence used to be. “I took and put my babies where they’d be safe.”
“It occurred to him that what she wanted for her children was exactly what was missing in 124: safety”
“This here new Sethe talked about safety with聽a handsaw”

This is where the story actually begins, with the killing of her own daughter in order to protect her from going back to the Sweet Home under the watch of the schoolteacher. Without this killing, there wouldn’t be a haunted house that confined both Sethe and Denver. Sethe may not have lost her daughter, her two sons, and Baby Suggs.

In a way, I feel that the author Toni Morrison is telling the readers that no matter how hard Sethe tried to run from the Sweet Home and cruelty of slavery, she will never be able to be a true free woman. She is still confined with the past even though she is no longer a slave. She is still confined by the haunted house.

Sethe knows this now and that is why she refuses to run anymore because she knows that no matter how far she runs to, she will always be confined to her past and to her love for her children.

Another pivotal quote:
“Your love is too thick”
“Suddenly he saw what Stamp Paid wanted him to see: more important than what Sethe had done was what she claimed.”

Throughout the story, we see the characters trying to claim something. They could never claim anything because they were slaves, they couldn’t even put a claim on themselves. Paul D, Denver, and Beloved wanted to claim Sethe’s love for themselves. They’ve never known what it feels to hold a claim on something and they each have this thirst to finally claim something.

Sethe went to ultimate measures to claim hers.聽 She wasn’t willing to give away that claim to the schoolteacher. And now, beloved will always be hers only, and no one else’s.

This was a pivotal part of the story because it’s what drives all the events that happens afterwards while also explaining the turmoil of slavery.

Deft

deft

: skillful and clever

: able to do something quickly and accurately

:聽 characterized by facility and skill
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deft
聽In Beloved page 185 paragraph 1
聽“Young and deft with four children , one of which she delivered herself the day before she got there and who now had the full benefit of Baby Suggs’ bounty and her big old heart.”

This is describing Sethe saying that although she was young, she was very skilled at聽her age. She was even able to deliver her own children by herself.

Gaiety

gaiety

: a happy and lively quality

plural gaieties
1
:merrymaking; also :聽 festive activity 鈥攐ften used in plural
2
:聽 high spirits :merriment
3
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gaietyIn Beloved page 87 Paragraph 3

“She had felt warm satisfaction radiating from Beloved’s skin when she listened to her mother talk about the old days. But gaiety she had never seen.”
In this case I believe gaiety is the high spirits and merriment and lively quality of Beloved. This is a kind of happiness that Denver has never seen and this means a lot in a story talking about a time of slavery.

Reverie

reverie

: a state in which you are thinking about pleasant things

plural reveries
1
:daydream
2
:聽 the condition of being lost in thought
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reveries
In Beloved 69 paragraph 6.
“She and Baby Suggs had agreed without saying so that it was unspeakable; to Denver’s inquiries Sethe gave short replies or rambling incomplete reveries.”
Reveries here probably means being lost in her thoughts because there were not a lot of pleasant things that may have happened in her past because he and Baby Suggs have refused to talk about it. She is probably lost in her thought of the past and thinking about what to and not to share.

Rebuked

rebuke

: to speak in an angry and critical way to (someone)

rebuked
transitive verb
1
a :聽 to criticize sharply :reprimand

b :聽 to serve as a rebuke to

2
:聽 to turn back or keep down :check
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rebukedBeloved page 16 paragraph 3. “Rebuked. Lonely and rebuked.”

In this dialogue, Denver is trying to explain that the ghost of the house is lonely and angry who is always speaking or expressing her anger by shaking the house, and breaking mirrors.