This chapter follows Beloved’s thoughts. She insists that Sethe is hers. She says “it is always now” and her thoughts mix different times in one fluid present time. She recalls a voyage on a slave boat from Africa, the horrors of crouching below deck with so many others, some dead, without enough room to move. She continually refers to being separated from an unnamed “she.”
As Beloved embodies, to some extent, the persistence of the past, her monologue eschews historical time in favor of one fluid time, in which past memories and the present coexist. Her recollections of a slave boat associate her with Sethe’s mother, who experienced such a voyage. But these fragmented memories may also suggest that Beloved gives voice to the sufferings and longings of all slaves, beyond Sethe’s own family.
Beloved recalls coming out of water and finding a house, then seeing Sethe’s face and recognizing that Sethe is the face from which she was separated. Now, she thinks, they can be together again at last.
Beloved’s emerging from the water can be seen as a symbolic rebirth and her obsession with Sethe suggests again that she is at least partially Sethe’s daughter.