M A I N * N E W S * T O P I C S * L I N K S * R E S E R V E S
Excellent/Interesting Observations and Questions
Here are the names of the people who got "+'s" on their reading responses for Week IX, along with excerpts from people's observations and a list of the "top 10+" questions asked. (Note: when listing the questions, I'll always copy the wording from the first time the question was asked and put the author's name first in the list of names in parentheses after the question, so that everyone who asked a roughly similar question gets some recognition, but the first person who asked it gets more.)
Week IX: Morrison and Caruth
Honor Roll: Stephanie Armstrong, Bill Belscher, Andrea Caccese, Jeffrey Ciminesi, Jinny Compton, Jim DeGolyer, Adam Di Palma, Noelle Dull, Brandon Erick, Stefanie Evans, Marcy Gambino, Heather Giambrone, Jeff Green, Beth Karnyski, Heather Koski, Melissa Lancia, Russ Leo, Holli Neal, Tom Priester, Jake Proper, Kelly Rosemellia, and Shana Sek.
- "'While the most precise definition of post-tramumatic stress disorder is contested, most descriptions generally agree that there is a response, sometimes delayed, to an overwhelming event or events, which takes the form of repeated intrusive hallucations, dreams , thoughts, or behaviors stemming from the event, along with numbing that may have begun during or after the expirence, and possibly also increased arousal to (and avoidance of) stimuli recalling the event.' I think that this relates to Beloved in the fact that Beloved is like Sethe's hallucation of happened long ago. Sethe couldn't deal with of the tramuatic events of the past and she surpressed them and they resurfaced in Beloved. She saw this girl and something made her remeber and be protective and loving of this girl. When Paul D. came back, he brought back all these memories and Sethe couldn't deal with them, so, Beloved came about. Beloved is kinda the delayed response to past events." (Noelle Dull)
- "In Cathy Caruth's 'Introduction,' she states: 'trauma itself may provide the vary link between cultures: not as a simple understanding of others but rather, within the traumas of contemporary history, as our ability to listen through the departures we have all taken from ourselves.' This passage relates to Toni Morrison's novel, Beloved. In the story flashbacks frequently occur and not only fill us in on the characters' history, but define the characters' personalities. In addition, the flashbacks of traumatic events may let us get a better sense of the family's situation, as they speak to us in the language of trauma, which, if we've experienced it, is a window into more fully understanding people. How Sethe, for example,reacts to the baby's death, tells us a great deal about her, as well as providing us with a common experience to relate to her with." (Jeff Green)
- "'There are a number of temporal paradoxes that occur in patients with PTSD... [One is that] recall of the actual trauma may often be impaired, whereas patients may reexperience aspects of the trauma in the form of obtrusive thoughts, nightmares, or flashbacks. (John Krystal, 1990,6)' This is evident in Sethe's actions in Beloved. She has a large number of reaccuring flashbacks and intrusive thoughts that creep into the text on almost every page. In one of the early chapters Denver says that her mom never tells her things or only "halfway" tells her things. Maybe this is because she doesn't really remember the actual event well enough to tell it. It seems like the only time Sethe actually recalls events with clarity is during her flashbacks. I think that perhaps Paul D may have also suffered trauma. I don't know enough information yet to tell exactly what it could have been, but it may be something having to do with the time he spent in jail or why he was sent there. Paul D also suffers from flashbacks and intrusive thoughts. That is usually a sign of some kind of trauma that occured." (Jake Proper)
- "I feel that a large portion of the Caruth article relates not just
to Sethe, but also, Denver, Beloved, Paul D, and the rest of the sweet
home men. They had all been exposed to, and had experienced severe trauma
while at sweet home, and throughout most of their lives. Only because
they were not considered to be human, therefore they were treated as
inhumanely as possible. Caruth mentions 'history' in her article. This
novel is about the history of slavery, and how slaves were looked upon and
treated. 'For history to be a history of trauma means that it is
referential precisely to the extent that it is not fully percieved as it
occurs; or to put it somewhat differently, that a history can be grasped
only in the very inaccessibilty of its occurrence' (Caruth 8). As Sethe
and the rest of the characters were experiencing a particular trauma, they
may not have been fully aware of what was happening. They had to
disconnect themselves from the event in order to cope with it. 'The
inability fully to witness the event as it occurs, or the ability to
witness the event fully only at the cost of witnessing oneself' (Caruth
7). Caruth also mentioned that survival can be a crisis within itself,
and I feel that is one of the goals of the characters in this novel; to
survive. Not just physically, but to survive in being able to cope with
what crisis is put before them." (Kelly Rosemellia)
- "As for picking a passage out of the intro's Well I picked the definition of Trauma. 'A response to an event "outside the range of usual human experience"' What does that mean? I don't get it, what is the usual human experience? If you grow up with something isn't whatever it is the usual for you? I mean isn't it the usual thing for Denver to have a ghost in the house?" (Kris Krajewski)
- "Some of the key points in [Caruth's] two articles were that PTSD is a response, whether instant or delayed, to a traumatic event, and the response is often distorted, changed somewhat or even completely, and truth to the victim is subjective. This is an important distinction, because often the differences between what happened and what is remembered are significant. The article also stressed the importance of listening, in any field. One statement that stuck out in particular was, 'The historical power of the trauma is not just that the experience is repeated after its forgetting, but that it is only in and through its inherent forgetting that it is first experienced at all.' What I gather from this is that one is haunted by something that occured, and one cannot truly get over this until they can forget. This explains alot of the first part of Beloved, again. Surviving PTSD itself can be more of a crisis than the actual event which atarted the trauma, more or less equally as affective. Caruth even uses ghostly terms to make her point; she describes distortion of personal significance in a certain event as haunting and uses the term 'possession by the past' to illustrate the inability to move on." (Russ Leo)
- "In her first introductory essay Cathy Caruth said the following about trauma, 'To be traumatized is precisely to be possessed by an image or event.' This statement holds particularly true to Sethe's situation in Beloved. Sethe is experiences flashbacks because of the experiences she faced earlier in her life that traumatized her. I find the use of the word 'possesed' particularly interesting because of the hauntings that Sethe experienced. The death of her baby was one of the causes of trauma for Sethe, and now she lives in a house that she believes is possessed by her baby's spirit. Since she refuses to leave the house or feels that she is somehow unable, her life and her childs life are now also possessed by her dead child." (Marcy Gambino)
- "'The flashback, it seems, provides a form of recall that survives at the cost of willed memory or of the very continuity of conacious thought, While the traumatized are called upon to see and to relive the insistent reality og the past, they recover a past that encounters consciousness only through the very denial of active recollection" (Caruth 152). Caruth explains in the essay that an individual is not really free (or has gotten over the traumatic experience) until he is able to forget it. This happens in Beloved when Sethe is talking to Denver about memories. 'Where I was before I came here, that place is real. It's never going away. Even if the whole farm- every tree and grass blade dies. The picture is still there and what's more, if you go there- you who never was there- if you go there and stand in the place where it was, it will happend again; it will be there for you, waiting for you. You can't never go there. Because even though it's all over- over and done with- it's always going to be there waiting for you' (Morrison 36). Kind of a lengthy quote, but it displays the idea of flashbacks and memories really well. By saying this, is Morrison saying that one can never really forget an incident? Are people doomed to be haunted by the past forever, since it will always be waiting for them?" (Stephanie Armstrong)
- "The passage that I took from Caruth's essay to compare to Beloved is: 'historical power of the trauma is not just that the expierence is repeated after its forgetting, but that it is only in and through it's inherent forgetting that it is first expierienced at all' (p. 8). Perhaps the most noticeable passage that can compared with the quote is when Paul D is seeing for the first time her tree on her back. As Sethe retold the song, she seemed to tell it with vivid details as if she was right there all over again, like a flashback that brought up all the same feelings she was feeling at the time of the tragedy. Morrison goes into detail when describing the tears that were flowing forth while Paul D was discovering the tree, almost if Sethe was rediscovering the tree for the first time her self. After she tired to forget about it, through the details that she told Paul D her tale, she relived the expierience." (Heather Koski)
- "My first question is--was anybody else quite confused when attempting to even start reading this book?! With all the changes of time, and being of a subject I usually don't read about, I became easily lost. 'The problem arises not only in regard to those who listen to the traumatized, not knowing how to establish the reality of their hallucinations and dreams; it occurs rather and most disturbingly often within the very knowledge and experience of the traumatized themselves.' I see this quote from Caruth to relate to Beloved when connected with the daughter Denver. When Paul D just arrived at the house, Denver did not know how to relate to him. The world she knew with her mother invovled people being afraid of them since they and their house were so strongly affected by the spirit. Yet then comes a man who represents a whole nother world she if unfamiliar with--her mother as a flirty girl. She cannot relate to this happiness her mother now has in his prescence since boys and girls keep away from her, she is cut-off." (Beth Karnyski)
- "'The problem arises not only in regard to those who listen to the traumatized, not knowing how to establish the reality of their hallucinations and dreams; it occurs rather and most disturbing often within the very knowledge and experience of the traumatized themselves' (5). A person that listens to the traumatized person never fully knows what happened. They can speculate and guess, but it did not happen to them. They truly do not know what the other person went through. (They may also have their own trauma to deal with.) The person that is having the trauma may remember the experience, but bringing it to reality and trying to cope with it is the hard part for them." (Heather Giambrone)
- "'...for it suggests that what trauma had to tell us--the historical and personal truth it transmits--is intricately bound up with its refusal of historical boundaries...' (8). I see this throughout the novel. The flashbacks that Sethe has are always something that is of historical or personal truth that are neccesary in understanding what is happening. These truths are neccesary to the reader. The past refuses to stay there, and causes so much pain to the characters, but this pain is relevant to us as readers of the story. Without the past being told to us we are clueless to what to expect, or how to enterpret what the characters do. The trauma that the characters face is infact historical and in the form of flashbacks, which the characters have no control over. A smell, a sound, even a tree could cause the flashback and the characters have no choice but to relive their past. This is what allows us to learn about them and have their lives relayed to us. It also makes it easier for us to understand. I find it easier because you are getting information from the actual character as opposed to having the author just straight out saying this is how it is. (Jinny Compton)
- "'The trauma is a repeated suffering of the event, but it is also a continual leaving of its site.' Sethe has reoccurring flashbacks to earlier periods of her life that were very tramatic for her. Because of these flashbacks, Sethe can never seem to escape the memory of these tramatic experiences. As a result she is continually leaving or trying to escape from her memories. The trauma Sethe experiences comes from her past life of slavery and abuse. As a slave at Sweet Home Sethe was beat and whipped, which had a traumatic effect of her. Morrison states, 'The traumatized, we might say, carry an impossible history within them, or they become themselves the symptom of a history that they cannot entirely possess.' Sethe's history is certainly impossible and she cannot deal with it effectively. She experiences the flashbacks because she cannot entirely possess her history and needs an outlet for her fear and frustration." (Bill Belscher)
- "'The Trauma is confrontation with an event, that in its unexpectedness or horror, cannot be placed within the schemed of prior knowledge - that cannot, as George Bataille says, become a matter of 'intelligence' - and thus continually returns, in its exactness, at a later time' (Middle of 153). Well, this quote, taken from the packet, seems to be related to the the ghost appearing to the family in the home. The trauma that is experienced by the members of the family is the reoccurence of the baby's spirit within the house hold. It is evident that this is the immediate trauma that the family is now experiencing. The Trauma being 'a confrntation with an event, that is in its unexpectdness or horror cannot be placed within the schemed of prior knowledge.' Therefore relating to the visitation of the baby's spirit as an 'unexpectedness or horror.' The confrontation of this event (haunting), by the family, is obviously continuous. As stated in the quote, the traumatic event 'Continually returns, in its exactness, at a later time.' This is evident in the ghosts continued appearance to the family, as the baby spirit 'continually returns.' This continual returning of the ghost is due to the fact that the overall experience or trauma, cannot become a formation of literal history of the present consiousness, therefore the trauma is occurring due to the lack of knowledge of the ghosts motivations or its underlying purpose as related to its death or its own trauma. Hence, the reappearence of the ghost in the minds of those who do not fully understand of lack the 'schemes of prior knowledge.'" (Adam Di Palma)
- "In the Caruth article II on page 152 she states, 'The flashback...provides a form of recall that survives at the cost of the willed memory or of the very continuity of conscious thought.' This is demonstrated in the first chapter of Beloved by Toni Morrison. On the bottom of page 4 of Beloved, Sethe is talking to her daughter, Denver, about the disruptions of the baby ghost (this was her offspring) that haunts their house. When Sethe describes her love for this baby by comparing it to the magnitude of the baby ghost's disruptions, 'No more powerful than the way I loved her,' a memory of prostituting herself to have the baby's gravestone engraved is sparked. Sethe begins having a conversation with her daughter after they try to draw the baby's ghost into confrontation. She unwittingly is drawn into a playback of this traumatic event. The train of thought that follows is almost unavoidable. She starts to feel guilt about not giving 'ten more minutes' to have the full extent of what she wanted carved on the baby's headstone. This is where her flashback ends. She does not seem to actively blame herself for these events, but seems to be unavoidably drawn against her will into these harsh recollections. She seems to lose her train of thought and be frozen in this memory although the author does not describe this freezing in the text. A time shift interrupts the memory from continuing into a description of her present physical state during the flashback." (Andrea Caccese)
- "'...traumatic recall remains insistent and unchanged to the precise extent that it has never, from the beginning, been fully integrated into understanding.' (If you were wondering this was on page 153.) Something about this passage jumped out at me when i read it. I don't know exactly how well it relates, but i think its a good place to start. I see it like sethe is almost in denial about some of the things that have happened to her. She is confused as to why they had to happen in the first place. I guess you could say she is a little desturbed. A nice example is at the bottom of page 16 and top of 17, when she was talking to Paul D. He was more bothered by her being beaten than of the boys 'taking her milk'. She comes back to that ... but I can't find the page where it is mentioned..." (Brandon Erick)
- "Caruth states in her second essay, 'The flashback or traumatic reenactment conveys, that is, both the truth of an event, and the truth of its incomprehensibility.' I feel this is a powerful statement that relates to beloved well. It helps explain why Morrison started the book the way she did. In the begininng of the book, the narrator is looking back at the house like a flashback. Sethe tells the reader that the ghost is her dead baby girl. As the reader hears different points of view, the reason the baby came back is different to each person. Sethe feels the ghost is sad. Denver says that it is lonely and rebuked. The narrator or the characters can't comprehend the real reason the baby has returned and why she is so raging. As a reader, we see the facts, but it is hard to understand why certain events are happening. Also it must have been very traumatic for the family to live there. To be raised in that environment would certainly bother a child. This is shown by the boys running away and Denver is finding friendship in the ghost." (Stefanie Evans)
- "The one that I chose to look at was on page 152. It is the second to the last paragraph. I tells of how the person experiencing the flashback really has no control over what they remember. It says that they are called upon to see the reality of the past, but only with the denial of active recollection. They cannot control what the flashback holds for them. This happens to Sethe in Beloved. As we discussed in class Sethe has a more vivid recollection of the ten minutes of sex with the engraver than she does of holding her dying baby. She has no control over which she can remember better, she involunarily remembers the sex. This also happens in the flashback of Sweet Home. She involuntarily remembers the sycamore trees more than she remembers the boys. She says that as hard as she tried, the trees beat out the children every time. She wanted the boys to be her first memory, but she could not make her mind change. The novel beloved is definetely shaped by trauma. Sethe's flashbacks and her ability to remember only certain things, whether or not she wants to are all examples of trauma." (Jeffrey Ciminesi)
- "I liked the fact that someone said about trauma, and how no one ever really knows what is happening or going through the mind of someone who has been traumatized. I think that that is true. I think that Denver does have a hard time relating to her mother, because her mother, in trying to forget the pain ( i don't know if that is phrased right) has in a way lost the ability to relate to Denver. ( I don't go inside..pg 45,46) her way of life, slavery, the ghost, the school teacher stealing her milk, every incident has lead to a death of herself. things she supresses that come back eventually through the help of beloved." (Shana Sek)
- "A powerful statement that Caruth makes in her essay, is one that seems to be true to that of Sethe in Beloved by Toni Morrison. In the first essay, on page 5, Caruth says that 'The traumatized, we might say, carry an impossible history within them, or they become themselves the symptom of a history that they cannot entirely possess.' When a traumatic event occurs, it has the potential to scar a person for life, as it did with Sethe. Sethe carries with her a history of pain, losing her baby, having her boys walk out on her, the life she used to have at Sweet Home, etc... It is this history that causes her to have flashbacks and time lapses that are painful. She often lets the past endulge her, making reality hard to deal with, causing her to wonder if she is going mad. Reoccurance of traumatic events that took place in ones history cannot be understood, says Freud, in terms of any wish or unconcious meaning, but is, purely and inexplicably, the literal return of the event against the will of the one it inhabits." (Holli Neal)
- "In Cathy Caruth's piece on trauma she states that 'to be traumatized is
precisely to be possessed by an image or event.' I think that this
statement fits very well with the book Beloved by Toni Morrison. In the
book Sethe, the main character, seems to be constantly haunted by her past.
Even in the house that she lives in is haunted by her baby that died. Due
to the baby haunting the house, it causes trouble for Sethe and Denver.
Denver is unable to make friends or invite people to her home because they
are afaid. It is very obvious that these troubles have caused problems for
Denver. In general, it's as if the memories of her past can never be left
behind; she is constantly being reminded of them." (Alex Herrera)
- " The essay by Cathy Caruth was easily applicable to Toni Morrison's novel
Beloved. A line that I felt went coincided particularly well with the
novel is as follows, 'The flashback, it seems, provides a form of recall
that survives at the cost of willed memory or of very continuity of
conscious thought. While the traumatized are called upon to see and to
relive the insistent reality of the past, they recover a past that
encounters consciousness only through the very denial of active
recollection.' This easily applies to pretty much the whole first chapter
of Morrison's book. An example of this would be on the top of page five,
a part of the book that we briefly touched on during class. Sethe had
vivid memories of the time when she slept with a man so that she could get
a headstone for her baby. She constantly recalls this occurance and often
is overcome with guilt and wonders if she would have just gave of herself
for ten more minutes she would have been able to put everything that she
had wanted to put on the headstone on it." (Kristine Cuomo)
- "One of the lines from Caruth's writing which I thought fit very well
with Beloved was, 'Trama itself may provide the link between cultures.' I feel that Morrison uses trauma very frequently and efficently in this
way. Morrison uses this trauma as a link through many different
flashbacks. These flashbacks allow us to see and understand how the
characters were feeling at particular times; and although we may not
understand everything that happened to the people in their culture, we
can get a grasp of what some of it was like and what the emotions they
felt would have been. This happens because when reading (at least in my
case) when a character is going through a situation you are going
through it with them, kind of putting yourself into their place. When
you do this you think about how you would be feeling and it opens up the
characters to you because we're all people and we all have somewhat the
same types of emotions. As I read this book I'm mostly feeling depressed
and simpathetic toward the characters and events, it also gets me angry
though to know what the african americans went through in that time
period. I feel that Morrisons use of trauma is a great way to go about
this story and thus far I am greatly enjoying this novel." (Jim DeGolyer)
- "A passage from the Caruth reading that relates to the story
Beloved, is when she is talking about the girl that had flashbacks of
trains and didn't know where they came from. In a way that is what Sethe
is going through. She has never questioned where they came from, but she
has flashbacks constantly. Another part of the reading that relates to the
story is, the passage that says it may happen that someone gets away
unharmed from the spot where he has suffered a shocking accident. That is
what happen with her. She has gotten away from the slavery but she still
has some flashbacks of it. It seems that she has more flashbacks of her
family and things that happened with her family." (Salim Miller)
- " Cathy Caruth wrote in her second essay: '. . . what has
come to be called "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder"
(PTSD)--in which the overwhelming events of the past
repeatedly possess, in intrusive images and thoughts,
the one who has lived through them.' This passage
relates to Toni Morrison's Beloved because Sethe
experiences many flashbacks to her tragic past. The
death of her baby is haunting her (literally and in her
mind) and she has flashbacks to things in her past
relating to that baby. She had a flashback to the
Sweet Home farm and from what I understood, that's
where she met her husband that she had that baby with.
She seems to be living in the past and she can't forget
it. The fact that the baby is haunting them doesn't
make it any easier for her to forget her past, and that
definitely has something to do with her flashbacks." (Rob Lefferts)
- "I do believe that if you experience something tragic or dramatic in your life, it makes an engravement on your mind and stays there until you overcome that experience or it leaves you all together. The effects of slavery in Sethe's life has made an affect on her mind. Trauma can occur on the unconscious, you may not realize that your heart is beating faster or your breathing faster because a certain something reminds you of an experience in the past." (Theresa O'Hern)
- "One observation which I have on the novel is that it seems all of the
members of Sethe's faimly and many other african american's simply run
from their problems. But there is one exception and that is Sethe. She
will not run in any way. There are two possible explanations for this as
I see. One which I belive is that she is sick of running and wants to
stick up for her self and stsy strong no matter how bad things are in
the house. This relates back to Chesnutt's story With the tree standing
it's ground. The other explanation is that she is giving up hope which
seems to be true at the begining. I see this being represented by Sethe
not noticing the colors anymore. It seems to me that since her baby has
died she has sort of given up. But then when Paul D shows up she notices
color again in the two orange squares. At this time other feelings come
back to her also. So I'm not sure what is the answer but I'd like to
Know so if anyone has info. on this e-mail me." (Jim DeGolyer)
think one thing Beloved wanted more than anything else is to Be-Loved; to
not be forgotten." (Kelly Rosemellia)
Top 10+ Questions
2. In the first Caruth article, on page 10, she deals with listening to the "crisis of the trauma" as well as the challenge of the therapeutic listener in hearing the survivor's departure from the event. How does one listen to the departure? Does this have anything to do with how we--listeners on an almost vicarious level--should read and interpret Beloved? (Russ Leo) In what ways do you see trauma work in her text? (Sheryl Harvey)
3. Is this book written for us to understand? Is it an African American story written for Americans. (Think back to the WOMAN WARRIOR and that whole issue of writing about culture) (Tom Priester)
4. Why does the author have the first chapter with descriptions of flashbacks from Sethe and then suddenly shift in the next two chapters to conscious memories from Paul D.? Is this just to give the background of the events that took place at Sweet Home? (Andrea Caccese, Salim Miller) How is the use of flashbacks effective in unfolding the plot? (Will Smith) Who is the narrator of the story? What is the significance of Morrison's use of narrator? (Tom Priester, Alex Herrera, Jamie Coniglio, Amy Keister) Sometimes Toni repeats things for no apparent reason. Am I
missing the reason or is it just very well hidden or what? (Mike Krauklis) What are Morrison's intentions for jumping around so
much? I find myself confused about something and then
having it explained later and I have to go back to
understand what happened before. (Rob Lefferts) What is Morrison trying to achieve by portraying the lives of the
characters inhabiting 124? (Jeff Green)
5. Is Sethe experiencing a new sort of trauma due to [the baby ghost's] haunting of the house? In an opposite view of the above question, does [the ghost's] presence in the house help Sethe deal with the trauma she has experienced? This could be a reason why Sethe has a desire to remain in the haunted house. What is [the ghost's] purpose in establishing and maintaining a presence in the house? Is [its] sadness an extension of Sethe's trauma? Does [it] have unfinished business that concerns the improvement Sethe's life after slavery? (Bill Belscher) Seeing that Sethe is currently dealing with a violent baby ghost,how do
traumatic experiences of the past affect her? (Will Smith) Why doesn't Sethe realize Beloved is her daughter? (Noelle Dull) Why does Sethe have such a hard time dealing with her past? Sure shes had some hard times, but is there anything that she should feel guilty about that might cause her to have all of these flashbacks? How much trauma do you think one can handle before making themselves mad? Do you think that Sethe is on her way there? (Holli Neal) What
exactly are Beloved's intentions in coming back? Is it because she wants
Sethe more than anything else? Does she want to haunt and concume Sethe
for murdering her? Is Beloved back for destruction and revenge, or to
remind Sethe of her actions, to make Sethe have normal human emotions? (Kelly Rosemellia)
6. What actually happened to cause the death of Sethe's daughter? Do we
know? Will we ever find out? (Jamie Coniglio, Amy Keister) Sethe doesn't explain why her baby died. She just tells
the reader that its throat was slit, why do you think she does this? (Alex Herrera) How exactly do you think that the baby ghost died? There was something about having it's throat cut and blood spilling all over the place. Was it an accident of could it have been intentional? (Jake Proper, Jeff Green) I just want to be sure of something, the ghost is the ghost of Denver's dead sister right? And she the ghost is pissed off cause it was killed by having its throat slit or is it cause her mother had sex in the grave yard? If it the first case, I just want to say I bet Sethe did it. (if this is actually said in the novel I must look like an idiot...) (Kris Krajewski) Why did the baby die? Was Sethe the one who cut her throat? (Stefanie Evans) Does Sethe understand why she killed her daughter? (Tom Priester)
7. What is Beloved's purpose? (Heather Giambrone, Noelle Dull, Kelly Rosemellia) Is Beloved a ghost? (Maybe the ghost of the child?) (Heather Giambrone) Paul D chased the baby spirit away for a while, then the character of Beloved shows up, strange that her name is the only word on the baby's gravestone, and then Denver feels this connection with her and helps her back to health. Is there any connection between the chasing fo the baby's spirit out of the house and the appearence of Beloved? (Heather Koski) Why does Beloved want to know about hte diamonds? (Lindsay Robinson)
8. Each character has different feeligs about the ghost. Do
you think that the relationships that the characters have with the ghost
are positive or negative? (Alex Herrera) Is the haunting [of 124] a result of one event or a whole string of events? (Russ Leo, Bill Belscher) What is the overall purpose of the ghost? I am lost so far as to her intentions of coming back to traumatize the family. Seeing she was just a baby did she really have a strong relationship with all the family at the time of her death? (Adam Di Palma, Stephanie Armstrong, Liza Infantino, Amy Carlson, Jason Golubski) What does the baby ghost have to do with the story, what it just a tactic used by the author to provide clues about the past or a way to introduce the character of Beloved? (Heather Koski, Holli Neal) The ghost in this story is a two year old child that had it's throat slit. Why would the author choose to have the child die in this manner??? (Megan Hulbert) Why does the ghost dislike Paul D? Why did it attack him when he was with Sethe? (Jason Golubski, Amy Keister) Why is the baby ghost so mean and violent towards others who have seemingly no connection to it? Why would it slam Here Boy against the wall? (Jake Proper, Jessica Sandeen, Kristine Cuomo) Why is Beloved so violent? Why does she chase away people? Is she trying to protect her family? (Amy Keister)
9. Does [Denver] see the ghost to represent something other than what I might take it for if I had to deal with that? (Beth Karnyski) Why does Denver feel this conection with a stranger, she was not very open to Paul D, why would she be so comforting to a stranger? (Heather Koski, Stefanie Evans, Jason Golubski, Jake Proper, Kristine Cuomo, Amy Keister) Denver seems to have been really traumatized... How did it happen to her? Was it from living in the haunted house, or from her brothers... well all of her family leaving her (except for sethe). Or could it have been a case of severe depression, that she developed because of the above reasopns, or from the dealing with her mother? Why is Denver in such intimate relations w/ the house, and the ghost in it? see pages 13, 19, and 29. (Brandon Erick) [Are Denver's] thoughts as to why people don't come and see them more accurate than her mothers? (Leslie Strandburg) On page 56, Denver denies seeing Beloved pick up the rocking chair.
Why would she do that? (Lindsay Robinson)
10. Baby Suggs seems to have no feelings or compasion.(page12) Is this an
result of the slavery? Is it being used bu Morrison to show how bad
slavery was and some of the effects of it? (Jim DeGolyer) When Denver was recalling the memory of her birth, Sethe keeps refering to her as an antelope. What is the purpose for that? Is an antelope some kind of religious or social symbol for something? Sethe also tells of how she didn't even know why she refered to it as one. Is it something that Morrison is trying to imply? (Jinny Compton) In pages 35 and 36... What does the term "rememory" mean? How is it used? (Tom Priester, Jim DeGolyer) Why did the boys take Sethe's milk, was it just for sexual pleasure or did they have other motives? (Jeffrey Ciminesi, Amy Keister) What was the significance of Amy, why was she willing to help Sethe? (Jeffrey Ciminesi) Amy says on page 33 that "My mama worked for these people to pay
for her passage." She is a white girl but what about her mother? What
was this passage? why would she have to pay them off? (Jim DeGolyer) Whatever happened to Halle, Sethe's husband? Did he run off? Did he get sold off? Was he killed? (Jessica Sandeen, Amy Keister) What was the woman in the white dress next to Sethe which Denver sees? Ghost? Imagination? (Jim DeGolyer) Why did Morrison describe the scars on Sethe's back so descriptively?
Is there a reason for that other than to show the affects of slavery on
African Americans? (Jamie Coniglio, Salim Miller, Amy Keister)
11. If there truly is some sort of presence in the house, what is it that makes them stay? (Kristen Schoonover, Jake Proper, Jessica Sandeen, Kristine Cuomo) What is the significance of the family remaining in this possessed
house? (Jeff Green) Why did they take Beloved into their home? Was this just a characteristic of people during that time? And what is her fixation with Sethe? Furthermore, what is Paul D's issue with her? (Stephanie Stoddard)
12. I am curious though as to why there were no other people helping with the burial, and why the entire weight came down on her shoulders? (Ryan Barone) What exactly is being implied by Morrison about Denver and her "house" in the boxwood? (Jinny Compton) I still don't know for sure, but it seems like 124 is the house number. Do they refer to the house by it's number to give it a more inhuman feeling, or is it to separate it from the family more? (Brandon Erick) On page 11, Mr. Garner is described as getting in fights about calling his slaves "real men". What are the others angered by? I'm not sure why the other's were angry when he says, "neither would I" to their statement "I would not have niggers around my wife". (Andrea Caccese) I don't understand where Paul D came back from. Why has he returned after 18 years away from Sethe and her family? (Jason Golubski, Jake Proper, Kelly Rosemellia) Why does Paul D get rid of the ghost--just to protect Sethe and Denver? (Lindsay Robinson) Is Paul D saving them from their troubles or creating something worse? (Jim DeGolyer)
Bonus: Group Questions (and Page Numbers Where Some Answers Can Be Found)
- What exactly happened at Sweet Home after Mr. Garner dies? What happens with Schoolteacher? How does he treat the men? [to which I'd add: what made Sixo stop speaking English? why did he see "no future in it"? (25)] (cf. 36-37)
- What happened to Sethe and Halle [and everyone else] during the escape attempt? What went wrong with their plan?
- Who slit the baby's throat?
- What is the connection between Denver and Beloved? Sethe and Beloved?
- What happened to the other Sweet Home men? (cf. 6, 9, 72) What is the significance of their names?
- Why is the house referred to only as 124 in the opening paragraph of the novel?
- Does Sethe realize the woman Beloved is her dead baby returned in the flesh?
- Does Sethe know why Beloved is haunting them?
- Why did Sethe run from Sweet Home?
- Why won't she leave the house? Is she afraid to leave or does she still want to hold onto her child somehow? (cf. 5, 15)
- Why does Sethe only tell Denver part of the story of her birth?
- Why did Sethe choose to marry Halle? (cf. 11)
- Why was Sethe so ready to have sex with Paul D?
- Why does Sethe think of Denver as an antelope when she is pregnant with her? (cf. 30-31)
- Has Paul D been traumatized to the same extent Sethe has been traumatized?
- If so, is Paul D better equipped to deal with the trauma?
- Why was he in jail before?
- What did he do to get the iron bit in his mouth? (cf. 71-73)
- Why does he come back to find Sethe after all these years?
- Is he only interested in Sethe for the challenge of having sex with her? He seems to lose interest afterwards (21).... (cf. 39-49, 67-73)
- How has the baby been traumatized?
- Why does the ghost haunt the house and her family? What are its motives? Its intentions? What does it want?
- Why doesn't the ghost like Paul D touching Sethe?
- Why does the ghost come back as a young woman?
- Does Denver realize who Beloved (the young woman) is? (cf. 76)
- Why doesn't Denver like Paul D? (cf. 12-13, 37-38)
- Why does Denver hold resentment toward her mother? (cf. 13-15)
- Why is Denver miserable? (cf. 12, 55)
- Will Denver overcome her own traumas?
- Does Denver know what plans the ghost has?
- What are Denver's secrets?
- What happened to Halle? Did he go crazy? (cf. 68-71)
- Why would Morrison create a character who had 8 children by different fathers? Does that affect her parenting skills? [to which I'd add: what kind of commentary on the exploitation of female slaves under slavery is this?] (cf. 23)
- How did she get her name? What is its significance?
HOWARD AND BUGLAR
- Are they still alive in 1873? [I don't think we ever find this one out!]
M A I N * N E W S * T O P I C S * L I N K S * R E S E R V E S
EN 209: Novels and Tales, Spring 1999
Created: 4/27/99, 8:01 pm
Last modified: 4/27/99, 8:01 pm