Pages 86–113: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Why does Sethe take Denver and Beloved to The Clearing where Baby Suggs formerly led her spiritual community?

2. What happens at The Clearing?

3. How does Denver know it is Beloved, not Baby Suggs, who did this to Sethe?

4. What had Stamp Paid told the boy when he saw Sethe for the first time?

5. What had Sethe done with her 28 days of freedom?

6. How had Baby Suggs greeted Sethe?

7. Why had Denver left the school and become deaf?

8. What had the prison been like for Paul D in Alfred, Georgia?

9. How had the Cherokee helped Paul D?

10. Who was the weaver lady?

Answers
1. Sethe takes Denver and Beloved to The Clearing where Baby Suggs had formerly led her spiritual community because she feels a need for ceremony to lay her burdens down and come to peace with Paul D’s living with her and the information he gave her about Halle and his own torture.

2. At The Clearing, Sethe sits on a rock to pray and conjure Baby Suggs’ fingers massaging her neck. She succeeds, but the massage turns into choking. Denver ends this by turning her gasping mother over on her back.

3. Denver knows it was Beloved, not Baby Suggs, who choked Sethe because she had been watching Beloved’s face.

4. Stamp Paid had told the boy to take off his coat to wrap the newborn baby in. When the boy whined, Stamp Paid told him to take his coat back, but if he could do that, to go away and not return.

5. In her 28 days of freedom, between escaping slavery and being imprisoned for the murder of her daughter, Sethe learned the alphabet and new sewing stitches, healed herself, relaxed, talked with the others, and learned how to be a free person making her own decisions.

6. Baby Suggs had greeted Sethe by kissing her on the mouth and refusing to let her see the other children until she was cleaned up. She washed Sethe and tended to her feet while another woman tended to the baby. Then she gave Denver to her to nurse. When she discovered the blood on the bed sheets from Sethe’s whipping wounds, Baby Suggs greased her back.

7. Nelson Lord, one of the other young students in Lady Jones’ school, innocently asked Denver questions about the murder, Sethe’s imprisonment, and Denver’s imprisonment with her. Denver ran home to ask her mother, but could not hear Sethe. For the next two years, Denver was deaf. She never returned to the school.

8. The prison that Paul D had been in in Alfred, Georgia, was a hell-hole. There were 46 men chained together daily to work on a chain gang and unchained each night to be put into individual boxes buried under the ground. They were guarded by men with rifles and dogs. Their only slight relief was to sing out their pain as they hammered each day.

9. The Cherokee had helped Paul D and the other prisoners by breaking off their shackles and taking the escaped prisoners into their camp. One by one, each of the other prisoners left until only Paul D remained. The Cherokee showed him how to follow the tree blossoms to the north when he decided it was time to leave.

10. The weaver lady was the woman Paul D met when he finally arrived in Delaware. She was kind to him, passing him off as her nephew from Syracuse by calling him by the nephew’s name. Paul D stayed with her for 18 months.

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