Study Guide

Beloved Chapter 15

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Chapter 15

  • Back to the past.
  • Baby Suggs is waiting for Halle and Sethe to arrive.
  • After all, Sethe's children have already made it to Baby Suggs's house.And when Sethe arrives, even though she's all cut up and beaten, Baby Suggs starts to celebrate.
  • She forgets all that she's ever learned about not trusting in good things.
  • Stamp Paid seems to have forgotten about all the bad things that are out there in the world, too.
  • When he comes by to see how Sethe's little baby is doing, he decides to gather some blackberries from the riverbank.
  • If you've ever picked blackberries, you know that this is nowhere near as easy as it sounds.
  • For one thing, blackberries grow on vines. With thorns. Lots and lots of thorns. Then there are all the bugs flying around, ready to sting you. On top of it all, these blackberries grow six miles away from Baby Suggs's house.
  • Stamp Paid, however, doesn't care. He comes back with two whole buckets full of blackberries.
  • And the first thing he does is feed a three-week-old Denver a blackberry. What's he thinking?
  • Doesn't he know that babies that small can't eat stuff like blackberries yet?
  • But that's what starts it all off: everyone starts to feed Denver and themselves blackberries. They realize that the berries are as good as anything that they've ever tasted.
  • Then things really get going: they decide to throw an impromptu party. And everyone in town is invited.
  • This party? It's the stuff of legends. There's sooooooo much food. In fact, food just seems to multiply all on its own. And it's all really, really tasty.In fact, the food is so good and there's so much of it that, once the party is over, the people from town start to get angry.
  • Wait a second—why would you ever get upset about good food?
  • Well, the folks at Baby Suggs's house start thinking that maybe Baby Suggs has it too good.
  • After all, the rest of them have a hard life. Why should she get to celebrate? And where in the world does she get all that good fortune from anyway?
  • Baby Suggs can tell that there's something wrong. She smells it in the air the next day while she's out gardening. It's the scent of disapproval coming—not from white folks this time—but from black folks; they think she's been too excessive.
  • And she can tell that there's something even worse coming after.
  • She's not sure what it is. All that bad smell from the party is blocking her senses. She only knows that it has something to do with a pair of high-topped shoes. And she doesn't like the look of them.
  • As Baby Suggs tries to figure out the future, she starts thinking about the past.She's lost seven children. What were they like? Could they have loved her?
  • Actually, Baby Suggs thinks that she could have had it a lot worse.After she hurt her hip, she and Halle were sold to the Garners.
  • Mrs. Garner called her Jenny. Baby Suggs couldn't figure out why, but at least the Garners didn't hit her. They didn't even want her to work in the fields. Plus, they eventually let her son buy her freedom.
  • Baby Suggs remembers what it was like when Mr. Garner delivered her to the free states.
  • At first, she thought freedom was pointless: after all, she was old and lame. But then she starts to feel that freedom in her body. She can't get over the fact that her body belongs to her.Or that her son, who'd bought her this freedom, didn't know what it felt like.
  • Mr. Garner tells her that he's taking her to the Bodwins, a brother and sister who have been helping freed slaves for a long time.
  • As they drive, Baby Suggs asks him something that's been bothering her: why does he call her Jenny?
  • Mr. Garner tells her that that was the name on her sale papers.She tells him that that's not her name. Her husband's name was Suggs, so she supposes that that should be her name, too.
  • Mr. Garner asks her what her first name is.
  • She tells him that it's Baby. After all, that's the only thing that her husband ever called her.
  • Mr. Garner laughs. Baby obviously isn't a real name.Baby Suggs disagrees.
  • It might not be much, but her name is all she has left of her husband. She plans to keep it. How else will her husband know her if, in case, he tries to find her one day?
  • Mr. Garner delivers her to Janey, the Bodwins' housekeeper, who gets Baby to start thinking about her own family. You see, Janey's family is all together, living out on Bluestone. Baby's family, on the other hand, is scattered. Baby immediately starts to think of which kids she might have a chance of tracking down now that she's free.
  • Janey also gets Baby thinking about work because she realizes that ex-slaves out here can actually earn money. Real money!
  • When the Bodwins ask her what she can do for a living, she's thinking of working at that slaughterhouse Janey's mentioned.
  • But the Bodwins toss that idea out right away because of Baby's age.
  • Instead, the Bodwins and Mr. Garner figure out that if Baby does their laundry, some seamstress work, canning and shoe-making (yep, she's a cobbler—Mr. Garner has proof of that on his feet), Baby can live at the Bodwins' old house: 124 Bluestone Road.
  • It's not the same as earning money, Baby thinks, but hey—at least she has a place to live.
  • As Janey drives Baby Suggs to her new house, Baby asks about the churches in the area.
  • She hasn't been to one for ten years. In fact, she doesn't think she even needs church all that much since she's been able to find God all on her own. But she does need the preacher since he can read and write.
  • It's time for her to track down her kids and you need letter-writing for that.
  • Two years of church-going and letter-writing don't turn anything up though… well, except for news about Halle and his budding new family……
  • Okay, back to the present.Baby's got Sethe and her children now; plus, Halle might come any day. And she got so caught up in her excitement that she had to go throw this party that ended up making everyone in town mad.
  • Now all's she got is this bad, bad feeling about the future… and the image of those shoes.

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