Pages 263–275: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. How did Sethe and Beloved look standing in the doorway?

2. How was Mr. Bodwin saved?

3. Why doesn’t he realize there was an attempt on his life?

4. How is Denver faring now?

5. Why does Paul D come back?

6. How does the house look when he enters?

7. Where is Sethe?

8. Why is she preparing to die?

9. What does Paul D tell her at the end of her tears?

10. Why is Beloved forgotten?

1. Sethe looked unaccountably smaller than Beloved as the two stood in the doorway. While Beloved is visibly pregnant, it is not just her belly, but her whole person, that looks much larger.

2. Mr. Bodwin was saved when Denver, standing on the porch listening to the women sing and waiting for him, wrestles her mother to the ground to take the ice pick from her. Several other women help Denver. Ella punches Sethe on the jaw.

3. Mr. Bodwin was so mesmerized by the sight of the beautiful, naked, pregnant black woman standing on the porch that he was unaware of the attempt on his life. He thought Sethe was going after some of the women who were involved in a fight, when the fight was actually between the women and Sethe to prevent her from killing him.

4. Denver is looking for a job at the shirt factory during the afternoons and still has the night job with the Bodwins. Miss Bodwin is teaching her, and Denver seems to have a young man. She’s grown up and is faring well in comparison to what her life had been just a short while ago.

5. Paul D comes back because Sethe is the end of his escapes and his walking. He sees Sethe as the end of his running away and the beginning of his tomorrows.

6. Outside the house, there is a riot of late summer flowers near the coldhouse and on trees, and a short discarded rope is near the washtub, as are many jars of dead lightning bugs. Inside the house, the railing for the painted white stairs is completely wound with ribbons, bows, and bouquets. Sethe’s room is messy, while Denver’s is neat.

7. Sethe is in the keeping room, laying in bed, vacant eyed and singing to herself.

8. Sethe is preparing to die because she thinks her best thing is Beloved and Beloved has left her.

9. At the end of her tears, Paul D tells Sethe that she, herself—not Beloved—is her best thing. He also tells her that they have too many yesterdays together and they need more tomorrows together.

10. Beloved is forgotten because she has disappeared. People have already made up their tales about her but no one can validate them with facts. These tales, too, are beginning to be forgotten without someone to verify them.

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239–262: Questions and Answers