Beloved Summary

In Beloved, runaway slave Sethe attempts to kill her children to prevent them from being caught and forced into slavery. She succeeds in killing one child, the ghost of which seems to haunt her home thereafter. When a mysterious character named Beloved arrives, Sethe assumes she is the reincarnation of her dead child.

  • In the backstory, Sethe and her husband Halle live on a plantation owned by Mr. and Mrs. Garner. When the kind Mr. Garner dies, the cruel Schoolteacher moves in, and the slaves attempt to escape. Sethe is attacked in the process, and Halle goes insane.

  • Sethe and her children run away to Ohio, where Sethe's mother-in-law, a freed slave, rents a house. When Schoolteacher shows up there with a slave catcher, Sethe attempts to kill her children to prevent their being captures. She kills one child, whose spirit haunts her.

  • Beloved appears, knowing only her name. Sethe believes Beloved is the reincarnation of her dead child. Beloved nearly eats them out of house and home, then disappears.
Additional Content
  • Overview Summary
  • Summary (Literary Essentials: African American Literature)
  • Summary (Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)
  • Summary (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)
  • Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

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