Pages 1-19 1. Beloved has an unusual name, but one that says a great deal about her parent’s feeling about her birth. As a slave, what justification could Sethe have for giving her firstborn child this name?
2. Baby Suggs feels she leads a life of good fortune, despite having been a slave for sixty years. Pretending you are her, defend and explain what you consider your good fortune.
3. How had Denver’s lack of companionship for so many of her developmental years affected her emotional growth? Find specific references in the text to support your opinion.
Pages 20-42 1. Despite (or perhaps due to) being slaves there, Sethe and the male slaves shared a certain kind of fellowship at Sweet Home. Use the novel to find examples of fellowship to validate this statement.
2. Often, that which we hold dear relates more to the symbolism of the object rather than the actual object. How is this true for Amy’s admiration of velvet?
3. Baby Suggs talks about a son being more special than just a man. In your opinion, what does she mean by this and how can you prove this from Halle’s treatment of her?
Pages 43–64 1. Sethe murdered one of her children and attempted to murder the others; her mother threw away all her babies but one. Using the text as reference, explain how mother love can be this strong.
2. Beloved is not pressed for information when she appears, yet is accepted into the household. Referring to specific passages in the novel, contrast Paul D’s reason for not asking any questions with those of Sethe and Denver.
3. Sethe and Denver seem to allow Paul D to instantaneously become head of the household once Sethe agrees to allow him to move in. Based on Sethe’s prior experiences so far in the novel, how can you rationalize her actions in this matter?
Pages 64–85 1. In the pain and humiliation of his torture, Paul D focuses on the rooster, Mister, as the symbol of what was wrong in his life. Citing other examples from the novel, explain how people often choose a symbol, rather than an actual event, upon which to dwell in times of extreme duress.
2. Amy runs away to find velvet, Sethe to better the lives of her children. How are the two women’s motives for running similar and dissimilar. Remember: the text is your source.
3. Paul D stops questioning Beloved when she chokes on a raisin. Physical acts are often caused by emotional reactions to a situation. How is this true for both Sethe and Denver, as illustrated by what we know of each of their life’s stories so far?
Pages 86–113 1. Paul D stayed with the weaver lady for 18 months, not because he loved her nor because of only her kindness, but because she fulfilled very specific needs of his. Often in life, we do as another asks because it does adhere to our own needs. What is it that Paul D was seeking that he found here, and why didn’t he stay longer?
2. Sethe’s need for a ritual or ceremony is not unusual. What other rituals or ceremonies had Sethe experienced in her life that would have led her to the need for one now in order to lay her burden down?
3. It is difficult for Sethe to accept Paul D’s presence in her life, even though this is what she wants. Sometimes, happiness is just as hard to acclimate to as unhappiness. How do you think it will be possible for Sethe to adjust?...
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Validate your opinion with facts from the book.
Pages 114–147 1. Although the Garners considered themselves enlightened slave owners, they are still slave owners. Compare and contrast their thoughts on slavery with those of the anti-slavery Bodwins.
2. Paul D’s reason for wanting Sethe pregnant with his child is shockingly contemporary. The difference from today’s situations is that Sethe is a mature woman who is able to consider the offer in terms of her experience rather than as a love-stricken young girl. What is Sethe’s reason for deciding not to have Paul D’s baby, and how did she arrive at this decision?
3. Baby Suggs offers a feast for her friends and neighbors. Rather than being thankful after the feast, her friends and neighbors begin to shun her. How much of this shunning do you think is jealousy and how do you explain it? Follow the text closely to explain your reasoning.
Pages 148–165 1. Compare Baby Suggs’ treatment at the hands of her masters in slavery with her treatment by her community as a free woman. Document your thoughts with examples from the text.
2. Sixo had never allowed his spirit to be enslaved, even though his body was. Agree or disagree with this statement being certain to use facts from the novel to support your argument.
3. Explain how you may, or may not, use Denver’s suckling her sister’s blood along with her mother’s milk (directly after Beloved’s murder) in accounting for both her acceptance of the non-material spirit in the house and her acceptance of Beloved as the material re-embodiment of her sister’s spirit.
Pages 169–199 1. Only Sixo believes Mr. Garner’s death was a murder, yet schoolteacher takes the guns away from the slaves once he hears what Sixo has to say. What might have motivated schoolteacher to take the guns if he does not accept Sixo’s theory?
2. Stamp Paid reads the newspaper article about Sethe to Paul D in an attempt to protect him from future unhappiness, yet Paul D is very unhappy once he hears what the article says. How can you rationalize Stamp Paid’s intention in reading Paul D the article?
3. Sethe begins to hide herself in the tiny world of her home and yard once again. Track the events that lead her to decide upon this seclusion and explain how each step could seem a logical progression to Sethe.
Pages 200–217 1. Denver says she has been afraid of Sethe for as long as she can remember. Using the text as your source, document and explain her fear. Be certain to include her brothers’ advice and her own actions to protect Beloved.
2. Some say that adversity makes the bonds between people stronger. How could you prove, or disprove, this for Beloved and Denver, starting at the beginning of the adversity they faced, when Denver inadvertently drank Beloved’s blood?
3. Halle had been an excellent son, a good husband, and a good father, yet he was insane the last time Paul D saw him. Compare and contrast the views of him held by his mother, his wife, his friend, and his daughters.
Pages 218–235 1. Using the text as your reference, explain why you agree or disagree with Sethe that her world is only inside her house and her yard.
2. Explore Denver’s innermost thoughts which she reveals in Part Two as explanations for her behavior in Part One. Be certain to validate your opinion with examples from the text.
3. Once again, Sixo is revealed as a slave in body only. Prepare an argument that the spirit cannot be enslaved, using Sixo as your example.
Pages 239–262 1. Lady Jones immediately recognizes Denver when she calls and wants to help her. While Lady Jones cannot supply a job, her efforts at organizing some relief for the family returns Denver to the community. How does Denver become a viable, welcome member of the community again?
2. Denver was supposedly slow in her thinking, yet it is she who comes to the family’s aid when it is necessary. How does Denver demonstrate that she is actually the strongest, not the weakest, member of the family?
3. Sethe and Beloved seem to have changed position in the family. How is it that Sethe is now the beseecher, as Beloved once was, while Beloved is powerful, as Sethe was once? Use the text to validate your opinion.
Pages 263–275 1. Compare and contrast Beloved’s power over Sethe in Part Three with Sethe’s power over Beloved in Parts One and Two. Use the novel to make a timeline to help you do this.
2. How were each of Paul D’s escapes failures? Verify your answer by checking the text.
3. Document the Bodwins’ relationship with the three generation of women who lived at 124 Bluestone Road: Baby Suggs, Sethe, and Denver.