1. How do you view Baby Suggs calling? Analyze the sermon she gives in relation to content, language and rhythm (Blues quality). Also note the interplay between crying, laughing and dancing. Why...

1. How do you view Baby Suggs calling? Analyze the sermon she gives in relation to content, language and rhythm (Blues quality). Also note the interplay between crying, laughing and dancing. Why does she give up in the end?

2. From whose point of view is the murder of Beloved described? How does the speaker's testimony frame our view of the situation? What does he regret, and at whom is this anger directed?

3. Who is Beloved? And who is she for the main characters: Sethe, Denver and Paul D? What role does she play in the community?

Asked on by worcester

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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1.  I view Baby Suggs' calling as a the calling of a down-home preacher with a touch of real-life abolitionist-feminism.  You're right, the sermon with the people gathered around definitely has a rhythmical quality to it.  Just look at her "stage name," Baby Suggs.  Her real name is Jenny Whitlow.  Why do you think she nixed it?  Less rhythm.  As for her sermon, the book says this about it, that Baby Suggs was

"offering up to them her great big heart."

Why the "interplay between crying, laughing, and dancing"?  That's easy.  Baby Suggs' life is a commentary of the evils of slavery.  Again, as the book says:

Anybody Baby Suggs knew, let alone loved, who hadn't run off or been hanged, got rented out, loaned out, bought up, brought back, stored up, mortgaged, won, stolen or seized.

However, the "interplay" you mention is also another aspect of cultural rhythm of the sermon.  Just in case you are wondering why I mentioned feminism at the beginning, Baby Suggs, of course, is a woman.  In the South, traditionally, the main preacher is a man.  Not this time.

As for why she "gave up."  I don't know if I truly believe that.  I think it's more an issue of other supernatural powers being in control (i.e. Beloved).  Suggs' death is more a commentary on just how powerful the "being" of Beloved really is, than it is a commentary on Baby Suggs dying powerless. 

[Baby Suggs] could not approve or condemn Sethe's rough choice. One or the other might have saved her, but beaten up by the claims of both, she went to bed.

2.  This is an incredibly interesting question because, in reality, there are TWO murders of Beloved.  The first is by Sethe herself, when the actual baby girl was two.  The second "murder" is of the "ghost" of Beloved and done by the spiritual singing of the women in the community. (Jesus conquers all.)  Paul D regrets his actions with Beloved.  To Paul D, she is not only a rival for Sethe's affections, but she is also a temptress and succeeds in seducing Paul D.  Paul D's anger is directed first at Beloved, but ultimately at himself.  Only he can be responsible for his own actions.

3.  Your question itself hits the nail on the head:  Beloved is different things for different people.  In general, Beloved is Sethe's daughter who she murdered to release from slavery. 

Beloved is “the white dress that had knelt with her mother in the keeping room, the true-to-life presence of the baby that had kept her company for most of her life.”

To Sethe, Beloved is her second chance.  To Denver, Beloved is her sister and rival.  To Paul D, Beloved is also a rival and temptress.  To the community, Beloved is a menace that preys on their own (but also provides an avid opportunity for gossip). 

Sources:

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