Study Guide

Beloved Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

  • Beloved can't take her eyes off of Sethe.
  • She follows Sethe everywhere. And Sethe loves it.
  • Soon Sethe discovers that stories feed Beloved just as much as sugar does.One day, Beloved asks Sethe about her diamonds.
  • Surprised, Sethe asks what she means. She's never had diamonds. She did have some crystals once, though.
  • Smiling, Beloved asks to hear about those "diamonds."
  • So Sethe begins a story about her marriage; how when she and Halle got "married," Mrs. Garner gave her some crystal earrings. It went like this.
  • Sethe knew all about weddings. She remembered all of the fuss and the minister and the cake that white women had at their weddings.
  • At the very least, Sethe wanted a wedding dress. She saved all the bits of cloth that she could find and stitched them together to make a new dress.
  • When Mrs. Garner saw the dress, she called Sethe into her room and gave her the earrings.
  • Entranced, Denver asks what happened to the earrings.
  • Sethe tells the girls that the earrings are long gone. Suddenly, she's done talking.
  • Instead, she turns back to working on Denver's hair, which she's drying with a towel.
  • Beloved asks Sethe if her mother ever did her hair.
  • Sethe can't remember her mother. In fact, she only remembers talking to her once, when her mother took her aside and showed her a mark branded into her breast.
  • Her mother told Sethe that the mark was how Sethe could tell her mother apart from the other slaves.
  • Of course, being a small girl who doesn't know much, Sethe panics and wonders aloud how her mother will know her and how she wants a mark too. That upsets her mother enough so that she slaps Sethe. We're guessing the brand on Sethe isn't a good thing to have; Sethe figures this out when she's older and gets branded herself.
  • Eventually, Sethe's mother is hanged. Not a pretty history, huh?
  • As Sethe tells the girls this, something shameful suddenly comes into her mind.
  • Abruptly, she gets up. She remembers Nan, the woman who cared for her, telling her that Sethe's mother threw all her other children away—all the children she had when she was raped by white men during the passage or on the island where she was from.
  • Sethe was the only child her mother kept, the only one she named, because Sethe came from a black man.
  • In fact, Sethe's named after her father, the only man her mother ever put her arms around.
  • Denver watches her mother thinking. All of a sudden, she realizes that Beloved somehow knows too much.
  • After all, how did she know to ask about the "diamonds," Sethe's mother, and those earrings?
  • Hmm... strange.

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