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Suggested Essay Topics

Suggested Essay Topics

Suggested Essay Topics

Suggested Essay Topics

1. How does Beloved help Denver gain an independent identity? How might the dynamic between Beloved and Denver represent the effect of history on subsequent generations?

2. Both Stamp Paid and Baby Suggs have given themselves their own names: what is the significance of this? What does the act of renaming signify? What does it say about the characters who engage in it?

3. The novel is packed with supernatural events. For example, Baby Suggs has premonitions, Stamp Paid hears voices, and Beloved seems to be some sort of ghost. How do supernatural phenomena refute schoolteacher’s “scientific” approach to the world? The text suggests more than once that Beloved may be an ordinary woman recently escaped from years of captivity. Why might the book make this move to “explain” the supernatural? Significantly, Lady Jones, another, though kindly, “schoolteacher” also refutes supernatural explanations. She is skeptical of Denver’s story about Beloved and considers the town ignorant for believing it. What effect does this have on the reader’s own interpretation of the seemingly magical events in Beloved?

4. The novel is narrated from the perspectives of former slaves and their families. At different points we get Sethe’s, Paul D’s, Stamp Paid’s, Baby Suggs’s, Beloved’s, Lady Jones’s, and Ella’s varying points of view. Yet the climax of the novel—Sethe’s act of infanticide—is depicted according to schoolteacher’s point of view. Why does Morrison choose to disclose the circumstances of Sethe’s tragedy as they appeared to schoolteacher? How does this influence the reader’s reaction to the story?

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Beloved (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series)