Has there been a film version?
Yes, in 1998 starring Oprah!
Who are the important characters?
Sethe – a former slave escaped to the north, she was horribly abused by a master and had a baby on the run, she has had four children
Denver – Sethe’s daughter and only child left living with her, she’s lonely and introverted
Paul D – a man who was a slave at the same farm as Sethe
Beloved – a strange and demanding woman who shows up at house #124 and invades Sethe and Denver’s life
Schoolteacher – the slave driver who comes to take over Sweet Home after Mr. Garner dies
Stamp Paid – a man who works ferrying runaway slaves across the river, he’s friends with Baby Suggs
Baby Suggs – Sethe’s mother-in-law, a former slave whose son bought her freedom, she is partially crippled
What’s it about?
Sethe is a now free slave who lives with her youngest daughter and the ghost of an angry baby in the house given to her mother in law, Baby Suggs. Baby Suggs has died and what once was a house of activity and friendship is now lonely and avoided. The baby ghost frightens everyone but Denver and Sethe away – including Sethe’s two sons. When Paul D shows up, he throws the baby ghost out of the house, and begins a relationship with Sethe. Soon afterwards, the residents of 124 come across a strange black woman who calls herself “Beloved” and is dressed in fancy clothes but cannot remember anything about her past. They take her in, and both Sethe and Denver come to believe she is the reincarnation of the baby ghost. Slowly but surely, Beloved begins to alienate Sethe from the rest of the people in the house and then begins to consume her.
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
It was the first work of fiction to address some of the more horrible aspects of slavery and torture without dumbing it down at all.
Do I recommend you read this book?
Um, I guess so.
How did this book make my list?
I had to read it for my Minority Authors class in college.
Has it won any awards?
It won the Pulitzer in 1988 and was voted the best work of American Fiction in the last 25 years.
“Paul D stopped and squeezed his left hand with his right. He held it that way long enough for it and the world to quiet down and let him go on.” – p 72
“But the baby’s thrilled eyes and smacking lips made them follow suit, sampling one at a time the berries that tasted like church.” – p 136
Toni Morrison also wrote a libretto for an opera – weird, eh?
Words cannot express how much I hate this book. Maybe because I’m reading it almost 20 years after it came out – so the shocking aspect of it isn’t so shocking anymore. I don’t find Toni Morrison a brave author, just annoying because most of her books cover the exact same thing which is a topic I have my own very distinct opinions on. However, it is a good ghost story, and I like the character of Denver. The entire thing reads like a poem on acid, switching between decades with no warning, or suddenly jumping into stream of consciousness. Which I hate. I guess I’m too organized for that sort of creativity.