What is Beloved "hungry" for  in Toni Morrison's book Beloved?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beloved is "hungry" for a number of different things; in fact, her "hunger" is almost insatiable. In a literal sense, she craves sweets, a fact that Denver discovers early in her stay at the house. Denver notes that

"...sugar could always be counted on to please (Beloved). It was as though sweet things were what she was born for. Honey as well as the wax it came in, sugar sandwiches, the sludgy molasses gone hard and brutal in the can, lemonade, taffy and any type of dessert Sethe brought home from the restaurant. She gnawed a cane stick to flax and kept the strings in her mouth long after the syrup had been sucked away."

Beloved also "hungers" for Sethe. She cannot take her eyes off her;

"Sethe was licked, tasted, eaten by Beloved's eyes. Like a familiar, she hovered...she rose early in the dark to be there, waiting...when Sethe came down to make fast bread...she was in the window at two when Sethe returned, or the doorway; then the porch, its steps, the path, the road, till finally, surrendering to the habit, Beloved began inching down Bluestone Road...to meet Sethe and walk her back to 124."

Beloved is also "hungry" for stories, particularly those about Sethe's life, and her baby. Sethe discovers that storytelling becomes "a way to feed Beloved," just like the "sweet things" that Denver has found that bring their strange visitor such satisfaction.

mehrunissaa786 | Student

i am writing ho Morrison has been able to reflect on the plight of a particular social group in the novel.  Dr. Rahul Gautam

Morrison is very successful in exposing the vulnerable and pathetic conditions of the slaves by showing the conflict brewing in their hearts. Their atrocious past hauls them, and more than living in the present they live in the past. Paul D is haunted by his past in the prison. He feels that he has lost his heart during the time of slavery and all he has is a tin of tobacco enclosed in his ribs. Sethe is lost in the contemplation of her act of killing her daughter, and justifying it. Beloved is all interested in the past of Sethe, and is determined to haunt her without ever forgiving her for what she did in the past. The stream of consciousness technique aided by the flashback helps the reader understand that the past of these characters is so sinister that they seem to be suspended in the limbo, or a purgatory from where there is no escape.

robyn-bird96 | Student

Beloved is literally hungry for food.  She is the demon that consumes everything in the house, because she feels that she is entitled to it, since she never got to be raised by Sethe. She is the succubus that depletes Sethe of any physical nourishment.

Her literal hunger is metaphorical of her hunger to overcome Sethe's life.  She believes that she was wronged because Sethe took her life when she was a baby.  Now she comes back as a "grown woman," and she is hungry for her mother's love, to the point that she will abuse her mother, demanding for stories, demanding for food, because Sethe owes it to her.