The Haunting in Toni Morrison's Beloved Explained
Community

The Haunting in Toni Morrison's Beloved Explained

Beloved is not just a ghost, but a ghost possessing the body of an innocent woman.

219
https://a.ltrbxd.com/resized/sm/upload/n8/cm/11/wk/beloved-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000.jpg?k=b23b45a9d3

In Toni Morrison's novel Beloved, the characters struggle to explain how the ghost of Sethe's murdered child came to be flesh and blood once more. No one knows how the baby's spirit came back to 124, but the chapter written from Beloved's point of view offers a possible solution. Possession. If Beloved possessed the body of an innocent woman, it would explain how she became someone of both this world and the next.

There is only one possible human who Beloved may truly be; her possible identity is a topic of discussion between Stamp Paid and Paul D. Stamp explains that there "was a girl locked up in the house with a white man over by Deer Creek. Found him dead last summer and the girl gone. Maybe that's her." If Beloved was this girl simply suppressing memories of her time in that horrid house, then she would have no memories of Sethe. Something that she clearly has, for Beloved knows things about Sethe that few others know about, like Sethe's earrings and the song that she sang to her children before they fell asleep. It is because of this knowledge that one can discern that Beloved is truly from the other side.

While Beloved is, in fact, a ghost, she is also human. During her time on the other side, Beloved mentions that "it is hard to make yourself die forever you sleep short and then return." It is possible that this return she speaks of is reincarnation or, in Beloved's case, possession. Within the sea of the afterlife, Beloved sees a woman whose face she wants, and grows extremely attached to it, going as far as to claim that "the face is mine." This face Beloved chooses has an iron circle around her neck, indicating that this woman is being held against her will, exactly like the woman of Deer Creek. This iron collar leaves a mark upon the woman's neck, one that mirrors Beloved's scar from the handsaw. It is possible that Beloved chose this woman because of the similarities between her body and what Beloved's would have looked like if she lived.

It seems as if each time the Deer Creek woman is close to death, Beloved can see her face in the sea of the afterlife. This inconsistent presence in the water upsets Beloved, and she exclaims that the woman "took my face away." After a long period of waiting, Beloved has another opportunity to take the woman's body. Luring the woman to the water with whispers, Beloved states that "I want to be two of us I want the join." This joining is referring to the action of Beloved possessing the Deer Creek woman's body. Once she is inside this body, Beloved can see that "I am gone now I am her face my own face has left me I see me swim away." It is as this woman is swimming that Beloved attacks, drowning the girl so that she alone can be in control of the body. This possession is certain, for at the beginning of the novel Beloved emerges from the river, coughing up water. If it were not for her being from the other side, she would have drowned, along with the Deer Creek woman whose body she now inhabits. Beloved most certainly has the ability to kill this innocent woman for, in the clearing, she nearly strangled Sethe to death, only stopping because Denver stepped in. The Deer Creek woman had no one around to protect her. Thus Beloved drowned this woman and used her body to return to her mother.

Throughout the novel, it is clear that Beloved will do anything to be close to Sethe, anything, including possessing the body of an innocent woman and then kill her. Beloved is only able to haunt 124 in the flesh because of this, allowing her the opportunity to revisit 124 as both a human and a spirit at the same time.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Swoon

I Started Dating A Guy Before Quarantine, But Now We Rarely Speak Unless I Double-Text

"He's really nice and cute and I like being around him when we see each other, but he's awful at communication."

Each week Swoonie B will give her advice on anonymous topics submitted by readers. Want to Ask Swoonie B something related to dating and relationships? Fill out this form here — it's anonymous.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

This Is Exactly What You Should Eat Today In Quarantine, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

You've probably been eating it the past three months,

If we added up all the minutes of my life I've stood in front of the fridge or pantry mindlessly glazing over options, it would probably amount to several years longer than I'd care to admit.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

If You Don't Think People Are Legitimately Scared To Stay In Lockdown, Think Again

People are terrified of what could happen if states stay in lockdown too long.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be the topic of discussion for most U.S. residents. From federal reopening guidelines to individual state timelines, the country is all over the place. This sparks conversations within the news, social media, and in family homes about the consequences of reopening the country incorrectly.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

If You Don't Think People Are Legitimately Scared To Reopen States, You're Not Looking Hard Enough

People are terrified of what could happen if states begin reopening too early.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be the topic of discussion for most U.S. residents. From federal reopening guidelines to individual state timelines, the country is all over the place. This sparks conversations within the news, social media, and in family homes about the consequences of reopening the country incorrectly.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Feel A Lil' Better: Because You Need To Stretch It Out

Your weekly wellness boost from Odyssey.

No matter how good (or bad) you'd describe your health, one thing is for sure: a little boost is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether that's reading a new, motivating book, or listening to a song that speaks to your soul, there are plenty of resources to help your health thrive on any given day.

Flexibility is an important part of life. Yes, you need to be able to go with the flow and adjust when needed, but literal, physical flexibility is equally handy. Not only does increased flexibility keep you safe from injury each time you work out, but a good stretch session is incredibly soothing after a long day. Your body goes through a lot! It needs to cool down and get loose after all the activities you put it through.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

5 Amazing Things That Happened To Me When I Took Just A Week Off From Social Media

I've taken one-week off social media, and here's what I learned.


You’ll think clearer.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments