For Morrison in Beloved, the ghost is used as a way of looking at poorly documented and partially erased cultural history. Beloved is therefore used as a way for characters to connect to both their personal pasts and their culture: "not a house in the country ain’t packed to its rafters with some dead Negro’s grief." Beloved acts as a bridge between past and present, reality and fantasy, and life and death. Reflecting on the above information, write a thoughtful essay discussing the significance of Beloved's relationship with each of the three main characters, Sethe, Denver, and Paul D., and with the community itself.

The significance of Beloved's relationship with Sethe, Denver, and Paul D. is that she allows them to come to terms with some aspect of their past or themselves. Sethe must reckon with all of the effects of what she did. Denver must learn to see her mother as a fallible and flawed, but very strong, woman. Paul D. must allow his "tobacco tin" heart to open so that he can move forward with his life as a free man.

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Beloved's relationship with Sethe is fraught with pain, of course. Her presence in Sethe's life seems to provide Sethe with the opportunity to come to grips with the complexity of what she did. She's long been convinced of the correctness of her choice to kill Beloved as a young child rather than permit her to be remanded into slavery. However, when Beloved reappears in her life, Sethe nearly kills herself trying to make it up to her.

Beloved's relationship with Denver helps to compel Denver to come to terms with the fact that her mother and father had a life before her. She feels left out of all the Sweet Home memories and even resents Paul D. because he shares a part of her mother, Sethe, that Denver can never know. When Beloved returns, Denver tries to "claim" her initially, but seeing what Beloved does to her mother forces Denver to grow up and move past her childish insecurities and selfishness.

Beloved allows Denver to finally see her mother as a human being with flaws and fears and strengths rather than a monolith. Beloved also compels Paul D. to come to terms with the damage his past has done him and to accept it all as part of who he is so that he no longer tries to lock it up in his "tobacco tin" of a heart. When he has sex with her, the rust falls away and the metaphorical tin opens up.

Finally, Beloved's presence compels the community to forgive Sethe for what she did to her children all those years ago. The other mothers are unwilling to allow something from Sethe's past to come back and overwhelm her now.

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