by Toni Morrison
Amy Denver may seem like a totally random minor character, but as you can probably guess, nothing in Beloved is random.
First, that last name. Why "Denver"? Maybe Morrison is making a reference to James Denver, who—among other things—was a general for the Union in the Civil War; a governor of Kansas when it voted to be slave territory; anda guy who had a city named after him. Yep, that Denver, which, like many places in the country, was torn over slavery (even though Colorado was supposed to be pro-Union).
If you think about it, Amy, a white girl in a slave state who helps Sethe during her escape, is a little like Denver, the man and the city—full of contradictions.
The Indentured Servant
We're thinking there's more to Amy than just her last name. How about her background? Amy's mother died while working as an indentured servant and then Amy became an indentured servant in order to serve out her mother's time (3.33). Not the typical story you might expect from a novel about black ex-slaves.
But that means Sethe and Amy had a bit in common. They both live and work without basic freedoms, and they both attempt to escape their conditions. All that makes it a lot easier for Sethe to relate to Amy. And it makes us realize that American slavery is a lot more diverse and complex than the way most of us learned it in schools.