Beloved

Denver’s self-imposed isolation throughout Beloved’s storyline was always portrayed as just a habit from a dysfunctional character with no real explanation. Until recently, Denver was given a timid and fearful representation amongst the rest of her family. Beginning on page 242, Toni Morrison explains why Denver is the way that she is. The chapter resembles an inner monologue Denver is working through as she thinks about her life and the roles each of her family members has played in her upbringing and sense of self. “I love my mother but I know she killed one of her daughters,” Denver thinks to herself. Her brothers Howard and Buglar also knew this and the fact that Sethe would have killed them too had it not been for Baby Suggs intervening at the last minute. The audience is forced to ask, who can live with a mother like this?

Preparing themselves in case their mother attempts to murder them again, all three children turn to “Die-witch!” stories to give them hope and what they imagine as a fighting chance. Amongst the conflicting perceptions the audience recently gained towards Sethe, she is now a witch, a monster. “All the time, I’m afraid the thing that happened that made it alright for my mother to kill my sister could happen again.” Denver does not know what this could be, but she spends every day in constant vigilance for her own safety. She does not leave the 124 Bluestone so that the opportunity for her mother to kill her will never arise. In her shattered family, Denver is the only one to stay put. Unlike Sethe, the boys or Paul D, Denver refused to run away from her fears even if it might mean her death. Already living in a broken home, Denver spent her entire life living with two monsters, the ghost of her sister and the murderous witch that she sees her mother as. Without Baby Suggs’ protection, Denver adopts the role of the guardian of the house and later Beloved from the instability of their mother and protects one monster from the other.

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