124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom.
Each of Beloved’s three parts begins with an observation about 124, the house occupied by Sethe and her daughter Denver. Part One of the novel begins with this quotation, Part Two with “124 was loud,” and Part Three with “124 was quiet.” 124 is haunted by the abusive and malevolent spirit of Sethe’s dead daughter. When the novel opens, the ghost rages with a fury that is most definitely a baby’s. In Chapter 5, however, the baby ghost manifests herself in the form of Beloved, who seems to be a reincarnation of the baby Sethe murdered eighteen years ago. As the novel progresses, Beloved will become more powerful, until, in Chapter 19, she is said to wield the force of a collective “black and angry dead.” The spirit will wreak havoc on 124 until the community exorcises Beloved in Chapter 26.