Pages 20–42: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Who was Thirty-Mile Woman?

2. Why didn’t Baby Suggs have her children with her?

3. How had Amy helped Sethe?

4. How would you describe the dress Denver sees kneeling next to her mother with its sleeve around her mother’s waist?

5. What does Sethe remember of her childhood?

6. According to Sethe, what is “rememory”?

7. Why had Baby Suggs been so starved for color?

8. What is Denver’s secret place?

9. What is Paul D’s secret fear?

10. What originally caused him to tremble?

1. Thirty-Mile Woman was the woman Sixo loved. She had lived thirty miles away from Sweet Home, hence, the name. He had tried to walk to her and back in one night. When he realized the walking took all the time he had, he’d found a place halfway and coaxed her to meet him there. Because she had waited in the wrong place and it took time to locate her, he’d simulated a snake bite on her leg so she would not be beaten for being late.

2. Baby Suggs was a slave who bore eight children with six different fathers. The children were constantly being sold. She had no opportunity to say good-bye to her two daughters before hearing of their being sold. She had made an arrangement with the straw boss that she would sleep with him for four months and he would allow her to keep her third child, a son. When she became pregnant with the straw boss’ baby, he sold the son he had promised not to. Halle was the only child she was allowed to keep and he had been missing for the last years of her life.

3. Amy had discovered Sethe, just about ready to give birth, laying where she had fallen. Amy had convinced her to crawl to a nearby lean-to. There, Amy had massaged Sethe’s swollen feet and legs, bringing some life back to them.

4. The dress Denver sees is high-necked and made of white cotton lisle, with a bustle and buttons all the way down the back.

5. Of her childhood, Sethe remembers song and dance. She remembers her mother, when pointed out to her, wearing a cloth hat rather than the usual straw one. And she remembers the short, curt instruction given to her by the slave who minded the slave children.

6. According to Sethe, “rememory” is a thought picture that people can share rather than a memory that belongs to only those involved in the occasion. It is always there and sometimes people who have nothing to do with it bump into it, sharing it.

7. Baby Suggs had been so starved for color because, except for the two orange squares in a quilt in her room, there was none in the house at 124 Bluestone Road.

8. Denver’s secret place is a room created by boxwood bushes, which had been planted in a circular pattern. It is hidden by oak trees between the woods and the stream, beyond the field that lay behind her home.

9. Paul D’s secret fear is that he couldn’t live with a woman, abide in any one place, for a long period of time.

10. Paul D’s trembling was originally caused by being put in an underground box each night that he was in prison.

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Pages 1–19: Questions and Answers


Pages 43–64: Questions and Answers