The novel describes a loneliness at 124 now that Beloved is gone and has “erupt[ed] into her separate parts.” The town gradually forgets about her “like a bad dream.” The townspeople need to forget about Beloved in order to move on, since “it was not a story to pass on.” Gradually, even those who spoke with Beloved, including Paul D, Sethe, and Denver, forget about her. Traces of Beloved around 124 begin to disappear. The narration says, “This is not a story to pass on.”
The novel’s ending suggests that forgetting about the past is the only way to move on after extreme tragedy. The novel even refers to itself as a story that should not be passed on. However, the very fact that Morrison wrote and published the novel implies that there is some value in remembering the painful tragedies in our personal and national histories. While being subsumed in the past can prevent people from living in the present, the novel ultimately claims that we owe it to the past to remember and honor those who have suffered. You must somehow do both things, both pass it on and not pass it on, and through the novel that is what Morrison does.