Pages 169–199: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. How had the community conducted itself when Baby Suggs died?

2. Why wasn’t Stamp Paid used to knocking on the doors of the community?

3. What are Sethe, Denver, and Beloved doing when Beloved begins to hum the song she couldn’t know?

4. Why does Stamp Paid suddenly understand Baby Suggs’ indifference to the world once she’d decided to die?

5. What does Sethe realize about the shadows she had seen at the carnival?

6. What does Sethe remember of the efforts to save her life?

7. Why is Stamp Paid outraged when Ella tells him that Paul D is sleeping in the basement of the church?

8. Why does Sethe pilfer from Sawyer?

9. Why had Sethe asked Mrs. Garner what “characteristics” meant?

10. How had Mr. Garner died?

Answers
1. When Baby Suggs died, the community set up the funeral meal in the yard because no one wanted to enter 124 Bluestone Road. Sethe retaliated by refusing their food and not joining the service, standing apart near the grave instead.

2. Stamp Paid wasn’t used to knocking on the doors of the community because they were always open to him, as if they were his own, in payment for all his services in the Underground Railroad—bringing messages back and forth, providing food, spreading news that needed spreading, and getting whatever was needed to the person who needed it as soon as possible.

3. Sethe, Denver, and Beloved are drinking hot, sweet milk in an effort to warm up and calm down from the skating expedition when Beloved begins to hum a song that she couldn’t know because Sethe had made it up for her children when they were small.

4. Stamp Paid suddenly understands Baby Suggs’ indifference to the world once she’d decided to die because he, himself, is tired: not just bone-weary, but marrow-weary.

5. Sethe realizes the three hand-holding shadows behind them at the carnival were not those of Sethe, Denver, and Paul D as she had thought, but of Sethe, Denver, and Beloved.

6. Sethe remembers that, in an effort to save her life, Mr. Bodwin had seen the judge in his chambers and the Colored Ladies of Delaware circulated a petition. She also remembers the two white preachers and the newspaperman who had come to see her.

7. Stamp Paid is outraged when Ella tells him Paul D is sleeping in the basement of the church because it isn’t charitable not to have offered him better accommodations, even without his asking. He thinks the community is now ostracizing Paul D because of his association with Sethe, just as it has ostracized her all these years because of her association with Baby Suggs.

8. Sethe pilfers from Sawyer because she doesn’t want the humiliation of having to wait in line at the back door of Phelps Store, with the people who want nothing to do with her, while Phelps waits on all the white people before he comes to the back door.

9. Sethe had asked Mrs. Garner what “characteristics” meant because she inadvertently heard schoolteacher tell his students to make a list of her human and animal characteristics.

10. According to Mrs. Garner, Mr. Garner had died of an exploded ear drum caused by a stroke; however, Sixo had said the hole was caused by a bullet shot by a jealous neighbor. Schoolteacher then took the guns away from the slaves which leads one to believe that Mr. Garner’s death may have been murder.

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