Beloved told the story of Sethe, a slave woman who ran away from Sweet Home, a plantation in Kentucky and moved into 124 on Bluestone Road in Ohio. Her mother-in-law (Baby Suggs), her two sons (Buglar and Howard), and her two daughters (one named Denver) lived in the house with her.
After 28 days of living in Ohio as a free slave, her former slave owners tracked her down to take her back, which was as a result of a posse that allowed slave owners to chase runaway slaves across state borders. Upon seeing them, Sethe slit the throat of her toddler daughter because she would rather kill her than let her be captured. This quote sums up why Sethe killed her own child: “That anybody white could take your whole self for anything that came to mind. Not just work, kill, or maim you, but dirty you. Dirty you so bad you couldn’t like yourself anymore. Dirty you so bad you forgot who you were and couldn’t think it up. And though she and others lived through and got over it, she could never let it happen to her own.”
124 was gravely hunted by the ghost of her dead daughter. Her two sons ran away after they couldn’t bear it anymore. Her mother-in-law died. And it was just her and her second daughter, Denver in the house. Nothing much was said of her husband, Halle except he disappeared when they were still on the plantation and no one knew if he was still alive or dead.
Years later, Paul D, her husband’s friend from Sweet Home tracked her down to 124. They got cozy and he decided or rather Sethe agreed he could live with them. His presence was enough to chase the ghost away. Denver, now 18 years old didn’t like him very much and wanted him gone. Few days after Paul D’s arrival, a strange woman, a year older than Denver who called herself Beloved appeared in their lives. Sethe, being her generous and kind self allowed the young woman to live with them. Paul D didn’t like Beloved or the idea of her living with them and wanted her gone. But Sethe thought he was being unreasonable. Denver loved the new housemate and swore to protect her and asked her to promise never to leave.
Paul D later found out that Sethe killed her own daughter and thought her love was too thick for him so he moved out. Beloved’s love or should I say obsession with Sethe became too much for even Denver to handle. Denver felt ignored by both her mother and Beloved. Sethe eventually lost her job after her employer got tired of her excessive lateness. Instead of looking for another job, Sethe stayed home giving Beloved all the attention she demanded. There was no food or money so the three women slept and woke up in hunger. Despite Denver being afraid of going outside (she was known around town as the daughter who never comes out) she overcame her fear and visited one of their neighbors (Lady Jones) to ask her for a job. But Lady Jones didn’t have any job and gave her food instead.
Denver finally got a job and during her interview, she explained all that have been going on in their house and claimed Beloved was her cousin. However, the interviewer shared a rumor among other black women that Sethe’s dead daughter, the one she killed had come back for revenge. Some believed it while some didn’t. Those that believed decided to rescue Sethe. Thirty women marched down to 124 and prayed so hard until Beloved disappeared. No one knew what or how it happened.
This was a difficult book to grasp. Some of the backstories were very confusing. Reading Beloved was more of a task than a fun read. Nothing excited me about going to the next page or chapter except my curiosity to make sense of the book. And I’m glad I continued reading till the very end because everything finally made sense.
If you are a stubborn reader like myself who likes a challenge, reads books that don’t make sense or captivate your interest after the first few chapters I recommend this book to you. But if you only read books that make sense to you I will advice you to stay away from Beloved.