by Toni Morrison
Beloved: Symbols Quiz
Think you’ve got your head wrapped around Beloved? Put your knowledge to the test. Good luck — the Stickman is counting on you!
Q. How did Sethe get the "tree" on her back?
Sixo tattooed the tree on her back to remind her of her origins.
Denver loves to doodle. Especially when Sethe's asleep.
Schoolteacher told one of his nephews to whip her.
One day, it just showed up on her back after a long day at work.
Q. Why is Beloved associated with water so much?
It's all about getting (re)born. You know, water breaks when a baby is ready to be born and, funnily enough, Sethe pees like water is breaking when she sees Beloved. Also, Beloved's got memories that she shouldn't have—bad ones, about the Middle Passage and being on a ship at sea.
Because Beloved is clearly on fire. Interpret that at your will.
Because she is thirsty after her time on the run.
Q. Paul D is all about his tobacco tin box. What does his tin box refer to?
Uh… a tin box. Sometimes, you know, a cigar is just a cigar.
His "heart," as in the part of him that feels emotions.
Mister's (the rooster) red coxcomb, which, by the way, is another symbol for pride.
Private ownership of an object—a big deal since slaves didn't often get the chance to own anything.
Q. When Stamp Paid feeds baby Denver blackberries, all the woman go nuts because baby Denver's digestive system isn't ready for a solid fruit like blackberries. But then, everyone can't keep from feeding her those blackberries. What do those blackberries signify?
It's all about temptation and the pleasure of feeding knowledge, like Eve and the apple in the Garden of Eden.
Lots of fiber. Did you know it's super-high in fiber? Ask Dr. Oz.
Love, like everything else in the book
The "fruits" of slavery
Q. Mother's milk is a big deal to Sethe and her daughters. Why?
The milk represents good health for the entire family.
The milk signifies wealth and private ownership.
Mother's milk—because it does a body good.
Mother's milk and nursing help create a mother-daughter bond.