Study Guide

Beloved Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

  • Denver sits on the bed, watching Beloved dance.
  • Have you ever had a big sister? Or maybe just someone you worshipped?Well, for Denver, that's Beloved.
  • She'll do just about anything to keep Beloved happy. Anything.
  • But wait: there's something she's just got to know. How did Beloved come to call herself Beloved?
  • Beloved has a pretty strange answer: she says that Beloved was her name in the dark.
  • Somehow, Denver seems to know that Beloved's more than just a stranger who showed up at the door.
  • She asks Beloved why Beloved came back.
  • Beloved says that she needed to see Sethe's face.Weird, right? But Denver doesn't seem to think anything's weird. She just wants to make sure that Beloved will stay forever and ever.
  • She tries to tell Beloved this, but Beloved gets really angry.
  • She informs Denver, she's here for Sethe. That's it.
  • Panicked at the thought of losing Beloved's attention, Denver begins to tell her about how Amy helped Sethe when Denver was born.Even as she tells it, though, she feels like she owes Beloved something. After all, this is Denver's story.
  • What about Beloved?
  • Between the two of them, Beloved and Denver try to recreate the story that Sethe's told Denver so many times.
  • Flashback. Well, sort of. It's Sethe's memory, but this is Denver's version of it. You could think of this as one of those dream sequences in TV shows that show what could have happened. After all, that's almost like the real thing… right?
  • Anyhow, we're back with Sethe and the white girl Amy. Amy's rubbing Sethe's feet.
  • Sethe is still not sure that she can move any further. She tells Amy about her back.Curious, Amy turns Sethe over to look at her back and gasps. Sethe's back is a mass of bloody welts and deep cuts.
  • Amy has another way of looking at it though. She says that Sethe's back looks like a tree—a chokecherry tree.
  • Now, Amy starts telling Sethe about her own life. The short version is this: it's not so good.
  • The slightly longer version? Amy's mom was given to their master Mr. Buddy, who wasn't all that nice.
  • In fact, he whipped Amy for falling asleep in the sun on the back of a wagon. Amy also heard rumors that Mr. Buddy was her father, but she didn't believe it.
  • What Amy does figure out is that Boston's where it's at—it's where her mother was before she was given to Mr. Buddy and it's where all that velvet is. So that's why she's run away.
  • Amy then sings Sethe a song that her mama once taught her.
  • Amy's pretty sure that Sethe is going to die overnight, but she makes Sethe a bet anyway. If Sethe makes it through the night, she'll live.Okay, that's not a real bet. We get that. But pretty much anything's better than letting Sethe think that she's about to die any second, right?
  • Amy and Sethe start traveling, moving slowly because Sethe's in so much pain.
  • By afternoon, they find a river. More important: they find a boat.And just in the nick of time too because Sethe starts going into labor as soon as they get on the boat.
  • Amy's a little irritated, of course. Clearly, this isn't the best time to have a baby.
  • The baby gets born anyhow.
  • The two women pull ashore with the brand new baby, and Amy gets ready to leave—it's dangerous for the two of them to be seen together.
  • As she takes off, she tells Sethe to tell the baby about her. Her name, she says, is Amy Denver. Miss Amy Denver of Boston. (Aha! Finally, an explanation for Denver's name!)
  • By the end of Denver's and Beloved's version of the story, Sethe falls asleep, mumbling that Denver is a pretty name.

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