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by Toni Morrison

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What are the main influences of Schoolteacher, Stamp Paid, and Amy Denver in the book Beloved?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Schoolteacher is the epitome of the monstrous cruelty of slavery.  He considers slaves to be animals, and his image, like the memory and scars of slavery, haunt Sethe all her life.  When Sethe attacks Mr. Bodwin late in the story, it is because she has experienced a flashback and believes Mr. Bodwin is Schoolteacher come back to take her children.

Stamp Paid once had to give his wife up to his overseer's son, and at her request did what he had to to stay alive and did not seek revenge.  Because of this, he considers that his debt is paid for life and he owes no one anything more.  He appears throughout the story as a symbol of the price exacted from Negroes in misery as a result of slavery, and he stands for truth, reminding them that they, too, have already paid their debt in suffering.  It is he who keeps Sethe from killing Denver when Schoolteacher comes back.

Amy Denver is the poor white woman who helps Sethe in her escape and delivers Denver.  Because of poverty, she shares a similar experience with the slaves, having been beaten and held in bondage as an indentured servant.  Her compassion and shared understanding helps Sethe realize that not all white people are evil, and that blacks are not the only ones who suffer at the hands of others.

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elvym | Student

Something I found interesting, but am not really sure I fully understand :)

Toni Morrison stated Stamp Paid’s purpose in her interview with The Guardian.  She said his character reflects that "Whitepeople believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle. Swift unnavigable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood."