Beloved

Baby Suggs Character Analysis

Baby Suggs is Halle’s mother, Sethe’s mother-in-law, and Denver’s grandmother. Halle buys her freedom before the events of the novel and, after establishing a life at 124 in Cincinnati, she becomes something of a preacher or holy person in the surrounding community, holding gatherings in the Clearing in the forest. But after Sethe kills her child, Baby Suggs becomes exhausted and withdrawn, caring only about seeing bits of color, and slowly dies.

Baby Suggs Quotes in Beloved

The Beloved quotes below are all either spoken by Baby Suggs or refer to Baby Suggs. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Slavery Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Beloved published in 2004.
Part 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

[...] in all of Baby’s life, as well as Sethe’s own, men and women were moved around like checkers. Anybody Baby Suggs knew, let alone loved, who hadn’t run off or been hanged, got rented out, loaned out, bought up, brought back, stored up, mortgaged, won, stolen or seized. So Baby’s eight children had six fathers. What she called the nastiness of life was the shock she received upon learning that nobody stopped playing checkers just because the pieces included her children.

Related Characters: Sethe, Baby Suggs
Page Number: 27-28
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 1, Chapter 9 Quotes

Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them.... No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. ...The dark, dark liver—love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too.

Related Characters: Baby Suggs (speaker)
Page Number: 103-104
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 1, Chapter 15 Quotes

The last of [Baby Suggs’] children, whom she barely glanced at when he was born because it wasn’t worth the trouble to try to learn features you would never see change into adulthood anyway. Seven times she had done that: held a little foot; examined the fat fingertips with her own—fingers she never saw become the male or female hands a mother would recognize anywhere. She didn’t know to this day what their permanent teeth looked like; or how they held their heads when they walked.

Related Characters: Baby Suggs, Halle
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 3, Chapter 26 Quotes

Yet [Denver] knew Sethe’s greatest fear was...that Beloved might leave.... Leave before Sethe could make her realize that far worse than [death]...was what Baby Suggs died of, what Ella knew, what Stamp saw and what made Paul D tremble. 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.

Related Characters: Sethe, Denver, Baby Suggs, Paul D, Beloved, Stamp Paid, Ella
Page Number: 295
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Baby Suggs Character Timeline in Beloved

The timeline below shows where the character Baby Suggs appears in Beloved. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
...earlier, scared by hauntings such as a baby’s handprints appearing in a cake. Sethe’s mother-in-law, Baby Suggs , used to live at the house, but became withdrawn not long after Howard and... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Shortly after Baby Suggs ’ death, Sethe and Denver attempt to call forth the ghost to talk to it,... (full context)
Slavery Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
Sethe remembers once suggesting to Baby Suggs that they could move out of the house to escape the ghost, but Baby Suggs... (full context)
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
...an ex-slave who also worked on Sweet Home, sitting on her porch. He asks about Baby Suggs and Sethe tells him that her death was easy and that “being alive was the... (full context)
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
...how her children had been sneaked out of Sweet Home and sent to Halle’s mother, Baby Suggs , and how Sethe had run away after, to meet up with them. Paul D... (full context)
Slavery Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
...a Sweet Home man who had worked extra time to buy freedom for his mother, Baby Suggs . (full context)
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
...D go upstairs. Alone, she thinks of her brothers and remembers her young childhood with Baby Suggs and them. Now she feels lonely and miserable. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 2
Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
...men and women like checkers, moving them around, selling them off, and breaking up families. Baby Suggs , for example, was separated from all of her eight children except for Halle. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
Motherhood Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
...but she was determined to get to her children (who had been sent ahead to Baby Suggs ). As Sethe lay exhausted on the ground, she remembered bits of her childhood. She... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 8
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
...was dark and hot, with heaps of people (some of them dead). Denver asks if Baby Suggs is there, but Beloved says she doesn’t know the people’s names. She says she came... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 9
Community Theme Icon
Sethe can’t stop thinking about Halle going mad. She misses Baby Suggs and wishes that she were around to help her deal with this new information. She... (full context)
Slavery Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
At these gatherings, Baby Suggs would pray and then call forth children and tell them to laugh. Then, she’d call... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
...a woman named Ella found her and took her to 124. Once Sethe got there, Baby Suggs took care of her, bathed her, and bandaged her. (full context)
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Now, at the Clearing, Sethe goes to Baby Suggs ’ old preaching rock and wishes Baby Suggs were there to rub her neck. Suddenly,... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 11
Home Theme Icon
One evening, Paul D switches to Baby Suggs ’ old room. Then, he moves to the storeroom. He recognizes that he has felt... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 12
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
...that knelt next to Sethe, some presence of the dead baby. Denver tells Beloved about Baby Suggs , Howard, and Buglar. She grows to love doing chores with Beloved, grateful for any... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 15
Slavery Theme Icon
The novel flashes back to Baby Suggs waiting for Sethe and Halle to make it to 124 from Sweet Home. She is... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
...healthy baby, goes to a nearby stream and gathers blackberries, bringing them back to 124. Baby Suggs decides to make pies and invite others to 124 to have some kind of celebration.... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
The next day, Baby Suggs can feel the disapproval of her neighbors and she realizes that she has offended people... (full context)
Slavery Theme Icon
Baby Suggs remembers when Halle and she were bought for Sweet Home. She had injured her hip... (full context)
Slavery Theme Icon
At Sweet Home, Baby Suggs realized that she and Halle had arrived at a better place, but were still slaves.... (full context)
Slavery Theme Icon
Once Halle buys Baby Suggs ’ freedom, Mr. Garner delivers Baby Suggs to the Bodwins, who will help her get... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Baby Suggs meets the Bodwins and they suggest some jobs she can do for money. They tell... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 16
Motherhood Theme Icon
Baby Suggs takes Sethe’s sons away from her and tries to get the dead baby from her,... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 17
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
...her child. Paul D doesn’t believe it’s her. Stamp Paid tells him about the celebration Baby Suggs had, with the blackberries he gathered. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 19
Community Theme Icon
...the house. He realizes that the last time he went to 124 was to take Baby Suggs away to be buried. At Baby Suggs’ funeral, Sethe was silent and did not join... (full context)
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
Stamp Paid approaches 124 again, remembering how Baby Suggs became exhausted and stopped her gatherings at the clearing after Sethe killed her baby. He... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 24
Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...of her. Paul D thinks of his price and wonders what the monetary values of Baby Suggs , Halle, and others is. He thinks of Sixo laughing as he died because the... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 26
Slavery Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...Mr. Bodwin approaches, he hears the women singing. Inside 124, the singing reminds Sethe of Baby Suggs ’ gatherings at the Clearing. She goes out to the porch to watch them sing,... (full context)