Beloved is a novel by the American writer Toni Morrison, published in 1987. Set during 1873 soon after the American Civil War (1861–1865), it is based on the true story of the African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who temporarily escaped slavery during 1856 in Kentucky by fleeing to Ohio, a free state. A posse arrived to retrieve her and her children by the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, whichgave slave owners the right to pursue slaves across state borders. Margaret killed her two-year-old daughter rather than allow her to be recaptured.
Beloved's main character, Sethe, kills her daughter and tries to kill her other three children when a posse arrives in Ohio to return them to Sweet Home, the plantation in Kentucky from which Sethe had recently fled. The daughter, Beloved, returnsyears later to haunt the home of Sethe at 124 Bluestone Road, Cincinnati. The story opens with an introduction to the ghost: "124 was spiteful. Full of a baby's venom."
The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. It was adapted during 1998 into a movie of the same name starring Oprah Winfrey. During 2006 a New York Timessurvey of writers and literary critics ranked it as the best work ofAmerican fiction of the past 25 years.
The book's epigraph reads "Sixty Million and more," the number of slaves estimated to have died during the Atlantic slave trade.
The book concerns the story of Sethe and her daughter Denver after having escaped from slavery. Their home, 124 Bluestone Road, Cincinnati, is haunted byarevenant, who turns out to be the ghost of Sethe's daughter. Because of the haunting—- which often involves objects being thrown around the room—- Sethe's youngest daughter, Denver, is shy, friendless, and housebound, and her sons, Howard and Buglar, have run away from home by the time they are thirteen years old. Soon afterward, Baby Suggs, the mother of Sethe's husband Halle, dies in her bed.
Paul D,one of the slaves from Sweet Home, the plantation where Baby Suggs, Sethe, Halle, he, and many other slaves had worked, arrives at 124. He tries to bring a sense of reality into the house. He also tries to make the family forget the past. In doing so, he forces out the ghost of Beloved. At first, he seems to be successful, because he brings the family to a carnival, out of the house for the firsttime in years. However, on their way back, they encounter a young woman sitting in front of the house. She has the distinct features of a baby and calls herself Beloved. Paul D, suspicious, warns Sethe, but charmed by the young woman, Sethe ignores him. Paul D is gradually forced out of Sethe's home by a supernatural presence.
When made to sleep outside in a shed, he is cornered by Beloved, whohas put a spell on him. She burrows into his mind and heart, forcing him to have sex with her, while flooding his mind with horrific memories from his past. Overwhelmed with guilt, Paul D tries to tell Sethe about it but cannot and instead says he wants her pregnant. Sethe is elated, and Paul D resists Beloved and her influence over him. But, when he tells friends at work about his plans to starta new family, they react fearfully. Stamp Paid reveals the reason for the community's rejection of Sethe.
When Paul D asks Sethe about it, she tells him what happened. After escaping from Sweet Home and making it to her mother-in-law's home where her children were waiting, Sethe was found by her master, who attempted to reclaim Sethe and her children. Sethe grabbed her children, ran into the toolshed and tried to kill them all, succeeding only with her oldest daughter. Sethe explains to Paul D, saying she was "trying to put my babies where they would be safe." The revelation is too much for him, and he leaves for good. Without Paul D, the sense of reality and time moving forward disappears.
Sethe comes to believe that the girl, Beloved, is the daughter she murdered when the girl was...
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