Friday, January 30, 2015

A.P. Lit Is Wondering Why She Did It: January 30, 2015

Focus: What does Beloved's violence represent on a metaphorical level?

1. Warming up with our old friend, Foster:

"If we only understand Beloved on the surface level, Sethe's act of killing her daughter becomes so repugnant that sympathy for her is nearly impossible. If we lived next to her, for instance, one of us would have to move. But her action carries symbolic significance; we understand it not only as the literal action of a single, momentarily deranged woman but as an action that speaks for the experience of a face at a certain horrific moment in history, as a gesture explained by whip scars on her back that take the form of a tree, as the product of the sort of terrible choice that only characters in our great mythic stories--a Jocasta, a Dido, a Medea--are driven to make. Sethe isn't a mere woman next door but a mythic creature, one of the great tragic heroines."  (Foster 91)

Take a look at the shifts in point of view in Chapters 16, 17 and 18.

  • How would you describe the point of view(s) in each chapter?
  • Why do you think Morrison structures it this way?  
  • Other ways of thinking about the above question: Why not just tell the story from Sethe's point of view? How is the story being filtered?
  • How does the point of view affect the way you perceive Sethe? Does your perception shift throughout these chapters? Do you agree with Foster that Sethe comes across as a great tragic heroine?
2. Engaging in a lively Socratic seminar on Beloved, Chapters 13-18

3. Wrapping up: Did you know this actually happened?

1. Calling all critical review books!  Time to finish up those bad boys so that you have time to write your essay, which is due February 9 (that's two weeks from now).

2. For Monday, read the first half of Chapter 1 in Part 2.  For your reading ticket, you can choose from the following:

a. A found poem using words and phrases from the chapter; please include a short paragraph explaining what larger ideas you were exploring through creating this poem.

b. A character analysis; draw in specific passages from the chapter to support your thoughts.

c. A short metacognitive on an important paragraph or page from the reading.


  1. What do you think violence represents in Beloved?
    the desperation the slaves felt not wanting to go back into slavery
    part of it is just violence that's why it’s so disturbing
    reminded me of in oedipus slept with his mother thats, why its so shocking same with sethe and beloved she was driven to kill her own two year old daughter
    she wasn't trying to hurt her children she was trying to save them from something worse
    if we saw the scene (the murder of beloved) from sethe’s point of view we wouldn't have as much sympathy for her
    Do you guys think in present time (the beginning part of the book does Sethe regret what she did to Beloved?
    if she hadn't killed beloved sethe and her other 3 children would have gone back to slavery (beloved is a sacrifice)
    Why did she start with Beloved?
    beloved was so little she was the only one she managed to kill
    Sethe went from oldest to youngest
    Denver has dual emotions envious that beloved was the one successfully killed and also scared of her mother
    When baby suggs had that ceremony she was helping people see that there was a world without slavery that requires emotions sethe wasn’t in a place where she could handle that yet
    Why did she have to kill her kids?
    she has no ownership of herself she sees killing her kids as the only option
    she is used to having no power over the white man
    Why did Baby Suggs let Sethe nurse her baby after the killing of Beloved?
    Trying to bring her back to reality
    on a plot level trying to get the dead baby out of her arms
    Why do you think they include the detail about Denver taking in Beloved’s blood with the milk?
    when you are a baby the only way you can survive is with your mother’s milk, taking in Beloved’s blood is a symbol of the other children being able to survive
    Why does Beloved love Sethe so much?
    Does she know that her mother killed her
    Is it even Beloved?
    she does know she has so much spite for Sethe
    she is also the possibility that Beloved believes that because Sethe killed her the other children lived
    Beloved didn’t like being killed (Why does she love her mother when she was responsible for being in that darkness in the first place)
    How can you assume that Beloved remembers being killed?
    she is just a little kid when you are a little kid your mom is your favorite person she was just so little she probably did not know what was going on (that her mom was killing her)

  2. What is Beloved’s effect on Sethe?
    its a constant battle for Sethe wants to move on but Beloved is that constant reminder of the past
    Sethe isn’t free Baby Suggs died and left her two sons left but Sethe isn't free
    Why do you think Beloved came back when she did?
    Paul D- he is trying to have Sethe to move on and get over the past Beloved came to refocus Sethe’s attention on her
    Now that Paul D left what do you think will happen?
    very first sentence of part 1 (124 was spiteful) part 2 (124 was loud)
    Beloved can't stay forever
    Why do we get the scene in the storage closet where Beloved vanishes and comes back?
    that whole scene is about Denver’s fears being realized at the same time Sethe also needs her
    Beloved is a strong presence but at the same time has weaknesses
    How does Paul D feels about Sethe?
    can't look at Sethe the same
    he has trouble committing to women and he is afraid of her (her love is too thick)
    more important than what she did but what she claimed
    he compares her to an animal, thinks that she has gone crazy
    wants her to realize that what she did was wrong but she is in a mind set that what she did was the right thing
    Beginning of chapter 16 compares slaves to bears and snakes she is acting as an animal she has done something that should be humanly impossible
    he thinks of her as a beast and has given up on her (he realizes that she is not going to get better)
    Paul D sees in her the lack of remorse she claims that it was the right thing to do