Toni Morrison

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Beloved: Part 1, Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Denver loves it when Beloved looks at her and prizes her attention. Sethe asks Beloved about her past, but all Beloved can remember is crossing a bridge. Sethe thinks Beloved was locked up by a white man and never let outside. She knows a black woman, named Ella, who was similarly locked away and abused by a father and son.
Beloved’s “bridge” can be interpreted as a bridge between the living and the dead. Ella's experience provides another example of the cruelty of slavery and racism.
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By contrast, Denver thinks that Beloved is the white dress 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 excuse to spend time with her. One day, Beloved and Denver go to get cider from the cold house. It is dark inside and Denver loses sight of Beloved. She is afraid that she has lost Beloved.
As Denver begins to see Beloved as her deceased sister, she becomes more and more attached to her. Beloved prompts Denver to recall her past, just as she spurred Sethe to tell stories of hers, emphasizing the connection between Beloved and the desire for storytelling and memory.
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Denver finally finds Beloved, who assures her that she is not going to leave, because she wants to be at 124. Beloved curls up on the ground and rocks back and forth, referring mysteriously to someone’s face in the darkness and saying, “It’s me.”
Beloved’s desire to stay at 124 shows that she is perhaps searching for a home, just as Paul D is. Beloved curling up in the darkness recalls the dark place she describes earlier, filled with so many others. Now she seems to see herself in that place, whether she is an individual or a kind of agglomeration of all suffering slaves.
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