by Toni Morrison
Beloved Community Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Accepting no title of honor before her name, but allowing a small caress after it, she became an unchurched preacher, one who visited pulpits and opened her great heart to those who could use it. In winter and fall she carried it to AME's and Baptists, Holinesses and Sanctifieds, the Church of the Redeemer and the Redeemed. Uncalled, unrobed, unanointed, she let her great heart beat in their presence. When warm weather came, Baby Suggs, holy, followed by every black man, woman and child who could make it through, took her great heart to the Clearing—a wide-open place cut deep in the woods nobody knew for what at the end of a path known only to deer and whoever cleared the land in the first place. In the heat of every Saturday afternoon, she sat in the clearing while the people waited among the trees. (9.4)
Why are people so drawn to Baby Suggs' spiritual community? What makes it different from a church?
It started that way: laughing children, dancing men, crying women and then it got mixed up. Women stopped crying and danced; men sat down and cried; children danced, women laughed, children cried until, exhausted and riven, all and each lay about the Clearing damp and gasping for breath. In the silence that followed, Baby Suggs, holy, offered up to them her great big heart. (9.10)
Baby's form of worship is pretty corporeal (meaning it involves the body). It's quite different from your standard church fun.
We must look a sight, she thought, and closed her eyes to see it: the three women in the middle of the Clearing, at the base of the rock where Baby Suggs, holy, and loved. One seated, yielded up her throat to the kind hands of one of the two kneeling before her. […]
They stayed that way for a while because neither Denver nor Sethe knew how not to: how to stop and not love the look or feel of the lips that kept on kissing. Then Sethe, grabbing Beloved's hair and blinking rapidly, separated herself. She later believed that it was because the girl's breath was exactly like new milk that she said to her, stern and frowning, "You too old for that." (9.98-100)
If you feel a little uncomfortable, you probably should. Beloved seems to be crossing all sorts of boundaries with Sethe. Not that you couldn't already tell from the rest of the book, but Beloved is clearly a taker, not a giver.