Why does the narrator keep mentioning the shadow of the three people holding hands at the carnival in Beloved? Specifically, what does this image foreshadow?

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The narrator states that at the carnival, Denver, Sethe, and Paul D "were not holding hands, but their shadows were," implying that while this newly-formed trio is not yet a family (Denver, especially, has not yet accepted Paul D), they certainly have the potential to become one. Their "shadows," or some version of themselves, have coalesced and joined forces. Sethe herself sees their shadows and "decided that it was a good sign." They are described as "gliding over the dust holding hands," as though they were no longer tethered to the earth, but floating above it. In this way, the shadows seem to be symbolic of the bond that will eventually form between the characters, and the lightness that a human connection can provide to those who have been so long denied one; by the end of the chapter, even the once-reluctant Denver is "swaying with delight."

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It is true that the three shadows holding hands could foreshadow the possibility of a life comprised of Sethe, Denver, and Paul D. However,...

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