Homework Help

At the beginning of the novel Beloved , we hear that the baby ghost is powerful enough...

user profile pic

engel1 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 23, 2009 at 4:36 AM via web

dislike 1 like

At the beginning of the novel Beloved , we hear that the baby ghost is powerful enough to have chased off Howard & Buglar?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted April 24, 2009 at 10:15 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

Even from the very first two sentences of the novel, Beloved, we are told that the baby ghost is powerful.  "124 was spiteful.  Full of a baby's venom" (3).  Yes, the baby ghost is absolutely powerful enough to scare the two sons away.  (Just wait until you get further in the book and see what else she does.)  For now, nothing is more definite than the power of this ethereal spirit:

The grandmother, Baby Suggs, was dead, and the sons, Howard and Buglar, had run away by the time they were thirteen years old--as soon as merely looking in a mirror shattered it (that was the signal for Buglar); as soon as two tiny hand prints appeared in the cake (that was it for Howard).  Neither boy waited to see more. (3)

This paragraph presents the baby ghost's power in a concrete way.  This baby ghost has an image that can shatter glass.  This baby ghost has hands enough to touch the lives of the living, namely by putting her hands in a cake, just like any other toddler may have done.  The two sons are cowards, fleeing the situation.  As the book says, by this time "Sethe and her daughter Denver were its only victims" (3).  This is the first testament to the two women who will have enough power of their own to finally stand up to this baby ghost.  However, for now, Denver remains psychologically damaged and withdrawn while Sethe remains too guilty to go anywhere else.  What follows is an incredibly dramatic and suspenseful story . . .

Noelle Thompson

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes