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Quotes

Quote #1

Halle was more like a brother than a husband. His care suggested a family relationship rather than a man's laying claim. (2.16)

Does Sethe seem a little spoiled to you? After all, having an intact family was rare for slaves. Or is she allowed to wish for more?

Quote #2

"I don't care what she is. Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that supposed to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing." (4.38)

How's this for a rare moment? Sethe is defending Denver from Paul D's criticism. Relish it, because the rest of the book will be all about Sethe ignoring Denver for Beloved's sake.

Quote #3

Paul D made a few acquaintances; spoke to them about what work he might find. Sethe returned the smiles she got. Denver was swaying with delight. And on the way home, although leading them now, the shadows of three people still held hands. (4.64)

The tone of this passage may seem detached, even a little nonchalant, but don't let that fool you—it's huge. First, Sethe and Denver are finally out of the house and—we assume—mixing with the townspeople; something they haven't done in years. Second, it's like they're becoming a real family, and that makes Beloved's arrival right after this passage even more of an intrusion and a disruption.

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