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by Toni Morrison

Beloved Chapter 2 Summary

  • Sethe and Paul D head upstairs.
  • You can probably figure out why.
  • Once there, they have sex before they can even get their clothes off.
  • No surprise there. Sex is never as good as you imagine it's going to be. At least, that's what Sethe thinks once they're lying next to each other on her bed.
  • Paul D thinks that Sethe suddenly seems grotesque. Her back isn't like a tree at all. Trees are alive, inviting and good. This isn't.
  • Paul D used to have a tree he called Brother at Sweet Home. He'd eat under it every day. Lots of times, he'd eat there with Sixo.
  • Paul D remembers how Sixo used to cook potatoes for them at Sweet Home. They never turned out well.
  • Funny what Paul D ends up thinking about right after having sex.
  • In fact, prepare yourself for some stream-of-consciousness with this whole Sixo memory. It goes like this: Sixo always had plans. They tended to work out just about as well as his potato-cooking did.
  • For example, Sixo was in love with a woman who lived 15 miles away.
  • On the weekend, he'd walk to her house. He'd get there on Sunday, which left him just enough time to turn around and walk back. How romantic huh?
  • The men at Sweet Home would cover for Sixo, let him sleep through his duties after those weekend walk-a-thon "dates."
  • What does this all have to do with Sethe and her "tree"? Oh right: Paul D compares Sixo and Brother the tree to Sethe and her tree. Sethe, of course, doesn't come out too well in Paul D's mind.
  • Okay, now it's Sethe's turn to grouch about Paul D. Sethe thinks that Paul D is just like all other men.
  • In other words, he's not worth much. 
  • At least, that's what Baby Suggs used to say about men.
  • What else does Baby Suggs' think? Let's get in her head a little: Men aren't worth much. Sons, however—they're something special. Or at least they should be until they turn right back into being a man.
  • That's what she thinks of Halle, even though Baby Suggs lost just about everyone in her life except for Halle.
  • Now don't get Baby Suggs wrong. Halle is a special son. He scrounged and saved for years in order to buy Baby Suggs's freedom from the Garners. It's just Baby Suggs can't help thinking that freedom isn't worth all that much at her old age.
  • But let's cut back to Sethe: In comparison to Baby Suggs, Sethe had it pretty good for a while.
  • She got to live with Halle for six years.
  • She remembers when she told Mrs. Garner that she and Halle wanted to get married.
  • She also recalls why she chose Halle—because he worked extra on other farms to pay for his mother's freedom. We're guessing she liked that whole momma's boy thing Halle had. Anyway, Mrs. Garner gives Sethe her blessing and tells her that she can be with Halle. Then Sethe asks if there would be a wedding.
  • Laughing at her naiveté, Mrs. Garner doesn't really answer. See, slaves didn't get married.
  • At least, not in a church. So instead of all that church business, Halle takes Sethe into a cornfield for privacy.
  • Ironically, everyone can see the cornstalks moving. How's that for privacy?
  • Being the swell guy he is, Mr. Garner doesn't get mad about all the crushed corn Halle and Sethe make. He just lets his slaves eat it.
  • Now that she remembers the corn, Sethe thinks of how the men all wanted it cooked differently.
  • She also can't help thinking how loose the cornsilk was, how sweet the juice from the corn tasted, how freely it flowed… And we're thinking that's a seriously luscious analogy in the making, but you can read more about that our "Symbols" section.

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