Beloved is split into three major sections, and each of these sections begins not with any description of a character, but with a short sentence describing Sethe’s house: “124 was spiteful.” Then, “124 was loud.” And finally, “124 was quiet.” As 124 is haunted, it seems to have a mind of its own and is almost a character of the novel in its own right. The house is extremely important to Baby Suggs and Sethe as a matter of pride. After escaping slavery, they are proud to finally have a home of their own (the ironically named Sweet Home was neither sweet nor a home for its slave inhabitants).
But the idea of a home is important in Beloved beyond the walls of 124. As a child, Denver finds a kind of home in a growth of boxwood shrubs, a place that feels her own. Paul D spends practically the whole novel searching for a home. He is unable to settle down anywhere and, after much wandering, finally arrives at 124 but gradually moves out of the home into the outdoor cold house before leaving to sleep in the church basement. Slavery has robbed Paul D, like many others, of a home so that, even after he finds freedom, he can never find a place where he feels he truly belongs. These characters’ attempts to find a home can be seen as a consequence of the original dislocation of African-American slaves from their African home, the horrible voyage known as the middle passage that is vividly recalled by Beloved.
Home Quotes in Beloved
124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom.
Odd clusters and strays of Negroes wandered the back roads and cowpaths from Schenectady to Jackson.... Some of them were running from family that could not support them, some to family; some were running from dead crops, dead kin, life threats, and took-over land. Boys younger than Buglar and Howard; configurations and blends of families of women and children, while elsewhere, solitary, hunted and hunting for, were men, men, men.
The chain that held them would save all or none, and Hi Man was the Delivery. They talked through that chain like Sam Morse and, Great God, they all came up. Like the unshriven dead, zombies on the loose, holding the chains in their hands, they trusted the rain and the dark, yes, but mostly Hi Man and each other.