Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Toni Morrison's Beloved. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Beloved: Plot Summary
Beloved: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Beloved: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Toni Morrison
Historical Context of Beloved
Other Books Related to Beloved
- Full Title: Beloved
- When Written: Early 1980s
- Where Written: Albany, NY
- When Published: 1987
- Literary Period: Postmodernism
- Genre: Historical novel
- Setting: The outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio in the years just before (1855) and directly following (1873) the Civil War; flashbacks to the Sweet Home plantation in Kentucky
- Climax: The revelation of Sethe’s attempt to kill her children (and successful murder of her baby) to keep them out of slavery; the women of the neighborhood surrounding 124 and sing outside the house, driving Beloved away.
- Antagonist: There is no clear antagonist, but at various moments the novel’s characters struggle against slavery and racism, Schoolteacher, Beloved, and the past.
- Point of View: Third person omniscient, with first-person passages from various points of view
Extra Credit for Beloved
The Good Book. Beloved is full of allusions to the Bible. From the four horsemen who come to take Sethe back to slavery (reminiscent of the four horsemen of the apocalypse), to Baby Suggs’ miraculous feast (which recalls Jesus’ miracle of feeding thousands with five loaves of bread and two fish), many episodes in the novel gain significance and seriousness through allusions to Biblical stories.
Memorial. Toni Morrison once remarked that there was no memorial, such as simply a bench by a road, to honor the memory of all of those brought to the United States as slaves. For her, Beloved functioned as this kind of commemoration. In response, the Toni Morrison Society has installed benches in sites around the U.S. (and the world) as just such memorials.