Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1267
Topic #1 Mother love is supposedly the strongest and strangest love there is. For example, Sethe maintains throughout the novel that murder was a better alternative than slavery for her children. How may her statement be supported?
Outline I.Thesis Statement: In Beloved, Toni Morrison’s protagonist—Sethe—believes death for her children is superior to a life lived in slavery.
II. Treated as Animals in Slavery A. Sethe’s animal characteristics listed alongside her human ones as an exercise in schoolteacher’s classroom B. Schoolteacher’s nephews suckle Sethe’s milk from her breast C. Thirty-Mile Woman is almost old enough to “breed”
III. Denied Dominion over Self in Slavery A. Baby Suggs’ seven babies sold without her consent B. Sethe’s mother branded C. Paul A sold from Sweet Home to meet expenses after Mr. Garner’s death
IV. Torture Used on Slaves A. Sethe whipped when schoolteacher discovered she has told Mrs. Garner that his nephews stole her milk B. Paul D forced to wear the iron bit and three-prong collar after his abortive attempt to escape C. Sixo burned and shot to death after his escape attempt
V. Usually Denied Family Life in Slavery A. Sethe’s mother “given” to many different men B. Baby Suggs permitted to keep only one of her children C. Nan, rather than their mothers, cared for all the slave children
Topic #2 An argument exists that while the body may be enslaved, it is possible to keep the soul free. Sixo effectively demonstrates this argument. What does this statement mean in terms of the novel?
Outline I. Thesis Statement: Sixo’s spirit was never enslaved.
II. Refusal to Do Without Love A. 20-years-old with no women available at Sweet Home B. Thirty-Mile Woman was just that—thirty miles away C. Sixo found a way to convince her to meet him half way
III. Refusal to Accept Mental Dominance A. When accused of stealing food, reasoned that he was only “improving the master’s property” B. Successfully pilfered blankets for the escape C. Had his own unique theories about the ways of the masters D. Made a convincing argument that Mr. Garner died of being shot in the ear rather than from an exploded ear drum caused by a stroke
IV. Refusal to Behave like an Animal A. In no way disturbed Sethe when she came to Sweet Home as a girl of 14 B. Chose Thirty-Mile Woman for himself and with her agreement C. Rejoiced that Thirty-Mile Woman was pregnant with his child D. Sacrificed himself so that Thirty-Mile Woman could escape the white men hunting them
V. Refusal to be Limited by Constraints of Slavery A. Would sneak out at night to meet Thirty-Mile Woman B. Devised new and different ways to bake the potatoes he stole C. Laughed as he was being burned as punishment for trying to escape
Topic #3 The spirits of the dead often return to this world for revenge. Beloved has not just come back to be reunited with her mother but to seek revenge for her mother’s having murdered her. How do we know this is so?
Outline I. Thesis Statement: Beloved seeks revenge for her murder. II. Beloved is the Older, Murdered Daughter’s Re-embodiment A. Hums the song Sethe had made up for her children B. Asks where Sethe’s diamonds (crystal earrings) are C. Has lines on her forehead from where Sethe held her head back in order to slit her throat
III. Beloved Seduces Her Mother’s Lover A. “Shines” on Paul D without either Sethe or Denver seeing B. Actively resents the time and energy Sethe spends on Paul D C. Magically forces...
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Paul D to move out of the house D. Taunts him into having sex with her repeatedly
IV. Beloved is Cruel to her Mother A. Attempts to spiritually choke her in The Clearing where Baby Suggs had led the congregation B. Argues with Sethe that she did not have to be murdered in order to be saved C. Willfully demands the best and choicest food, even when the three women were starving D. Toward the end of her pregnancy and residence at 124 Bluestone Road, makes Sethe her slave
V. Sethe’s Relationship with Denver is Changed A. Beloved resents Denver’s place in her mother’s attentions B. Drives Sethe insane, causing Denver to leave the home to support them C. Demands all of Denver’s attention until she has all of Sethe’s, then disregards Denver—effectively leaving Denver without any attention
Topic #4 Sometimes circumstances bring out the best in us and force maturity where there had been none before. Such is the case with Denver, who seems to have had no alternative but to grow up when Sethe becomes insane and Beloved a burden. How may this be proven from the book?
Outline I. Thesis Statement: Denver is forced to mature by the circumstances surrounding her.
II. Denver’s Behavior Prior to Beloved’s Appearance A. Lady Jones accepted that she was deaf, as Baby Suggs maintained, when Denver disappeared from school B. Sethe apologizes to Paul D for her behavior C. Is easily won over by Paul D with a trip to the carnival D. Docilely follows her mother’s instructions on a daily basis
III. Changes in Behavior Upon Beloved’s Appearance A. Takes total charge of Beloved’s recuperation B. Once Beloved is well, takes it upon herself to keep Beloved entertained and supplied with sweets C. Shares her secret place with Beloved D. Seems to forget about arguing with Paul D except when he suggests that Beloved should be leaving
IV. Assumption of Responsibility A. At first, protects only herself from Sethe and the fear that Sethe may murder her, as she had Beloved B. Once Beloved appears, protects her from Sethe as well C. After Beloved has power over Sethe, protects Sethe from Beloved D. Prevents Sethe from murdering Mr. Bodwin
V. The Final Product A. Left the home to work at the Bodwins nightly B. Accepts that Paul D will be seeing her mother C. Is looking for an afternoon job D. Has a young man she cares for E. Has re-integrated herself with the community
Topic #5 Older people have different ways of dealing with their impending deaths; Stamp Paid and Baby Suggs had differing reactions to the weariness that made them flirt with death. How did they differ?
Outline I. Thesis Statement: Baby Suggs and Stamp Paid had different reactions to the weariness that tells us death may be approaching.
II. Baby Suggs’ Reactions A. Stopped leading her congregation in The Clearing B. Slowly stopped leaving her yard C. For a number of years, refused to leave her bed in the house D. Spent her remaining years concentrating on colors
III. Stamp Paid’s Reactions A. Realized his bone-marrow weariness must have been what Baby Suggs had felt B. Dismayed that he had gotten angry with Baby Suggs over her withdrawal from the world C. Understands how the distant past holds such vivid memories for him
IV. Effects of Baby Suggs’ Withdrawal A. Friendship with Stamp Paid lapses B. Congregation is no longer C. Since the inhabitants of 124 Bluestone Road are still being shunned, all three women lose contact with the community
V. Effects of Stamp Paid’s Bone-Marrow Weariness A. Goes to tell Sethe that he read Paul D the newspaper article B. Looks for Paul D in an effort to find out who Beloved is C. Remembers his part in saving Denver’s life D. Is proud of his part in the Underground Railroad