Study Guide

Beloved Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

  • "A fully dressed woman walked out of the water."
  • That's a direct quote from the book, folks. It was so good that we just had to toss it in. In fact, this whole chapter is pretty amazing. We highly recommend it. Plus, it's pretty creepy. And who doesn't like a good bit of creepiness in their life?
  • Anyhow, back to the story: a woman walks out of the water. She makes her way to 124 and sits on the steps. No one sees her come.
  • As the sun sets, Paul D, Sethe and Denver return from carnival.
  • They see a black dress and two unlaced shoes on the step. Their dog, Here Boy, is nowhere in sight. (Here's a tip: whenever the dog's run away, chances are that something strange is going on. Just think of Scooby Doo.)
  • All of a sudden, Sethe has to go to the bathroom. She can't even make it to the outhouse. She just squats on the ground around the corner of the house, hoping that Paul D won't follow her.
  • Meanwhile, the woman on the steps drinks glass after glass of water.Coincidence? We think not.
  • Everyone stares at the woman. She's got perfect skin, except for three little scratches on her forehead. She seems pretty sleepy and hungry.
  • When Sethe asks the woman what her name is, she replies, "Beloved."
  • Pay attention, folks. This is important.The woman can't seem to remember having a last name.
  • Paul D's a bit puzzled. Maybe even a bit suspicious.
  • Sethe, however, hears her name and immediately warms to her.
  • She gets Beloved something to eat.
  • Beloved falls asleep.
  • In fact, she sleeps for four days.
  • Paul D thinks that she might have cholera.Denver watches over her fiercely. Whenever Sethe asks about Beloved, Denver says that she's looking after her.
  • Denver's like the best babysitter ever (even though Beloved is old enough to be her own woman).
  • Denver realizes things about Beloved that only a mother would know. She notices that Beloved has eyes that are deep, deep black—almost expressionless even. She also learns that Beloved loves sweets and will eat any form of sugar that she can get her hands on.
  • Under all this care, Beloved gets better quickly, but she doesn't seem inclined to leave. And who would blame her? She's got free food, free shelter, and a doting Sethe and Denver.Plus, Sethe's pretty convinced that Denver's lonely and needs Beloved, so Sethe doesn't even think of pushing Beloved out.
  • Paul D, on the other hand, thinks that there's something funny going on. He tells Sethe about the time he saw Beloved lift the rocking chair with one hand even though Beloved goes around looking weak all the time. Denver saw it, too.
  • Sethe can't believe what Paul D says so she asks Denver to come in and act as a corroborating witness. But you get the sense that Denver knows what's up. She lies and says she didn't see Beloved do anything of the sort.
  • Frustrated, Paul D decides to say nothing more about Beloved. But whatever trust that existed between Paul D and Denver is definitely gone now.

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