Beloved is the reason why everything in this novel transpires. Her harsh history and actions are the reason why Toni Morrison picked her name to be the title of her novel. Beloved’s death caused the townspeople to stay away from 124, transmuted Sethe holistically, and the other characters too. Beloved scared the townspeople enough to not come close to the house since her death and reappearance. She also ruined Sethe by draining her energy and rewiring her emotionally. The other characters in the novel like Paul D and Denver were also greatly affected by Beloved. Without Beloved, the novel wouldn’t be the masterpiece it is.
Sethe once free, was at 124 with all her children. One day Schoolteacher and other white men go to 124 to take Sethe’s kids and introduce them to slavery but Sethe does the unpredictable. She goes quickly to kill her children before Schoolteacher and the other white men arrive and take her children. “She flew, snatching up her children like a hawk on the wing; how her face beaked, how her hands worked like claws, how she collected them every which way:one on her shoulder, one under her arm, one by the hand, the other shouted forward into the woodshed…”(185) She only has enough time to kill one and the unfortunately, it’s Beloved. After the incident, everything unfolds. Beloved’s murder keeps everyone in town away from 124 even though they have great memories there. That’s why no one visits Sethe and Denver. Eventually they become very antisocial and isolated from everyone; stuck in there own world. Later after Beloved returns from the dead, they are even more scared. That is why towards the end, a group of women come together at 124 to expel her from there. They want to help Sethe and stop that deep feeling of emptiness and sorrow that is felt just by passing by.
Beloved is the main reason why Sethe is the way she is. Sethe is guilty since she is the one that murdered Beloved. According to Sethe, she did it to save her from slavery and keep her safe. Since the occurrence, she feels guilty and the past has been haunting her the entire time, even when Beloved arrives at 124. That being said, Beloved takes advantage of Sethe in every way she sees possible. She’s is taken in by Sethe, given food, water, and shelter. That’s when Beloved begins to have an unhealthy and parasitical attachment towards her. She is constantly with Sethe and won’t let her do much around the house. Coming towards the end of the novel, Sethe becomes Beloved’s servant. Beloved seems to be unpleasable and have an abundant desire for food. Sethe loses her job and leaves chores at home undone in order to keep Beloved comfortable and fulfill her demands. She drains Sethe’s energy and food resources while Sethe and Denver eat almost nothing. Beloved becomes fat and weak as if she were pregnant from all the food she eats while Sethe becomes cadaverous. “The skin between her mother’s forefingers and thumb was thin as china silk and there wasn’t a piece of clothing in the house that didn’t sag on her.”(281) Sethe becomes tired of Beloved’s demands at times and tries to tell her how she suffered as a mother for her and the other children. Beloved seems to not be affected by Sethe’s words and reverses the entire conversation towards her. “Beloved accused her of leaving her behind. Of not being nice to her, not smiling at her.”(284) As Sethe hears that, she tries to explain why and tries to please her even more since she feels guilty for her actions. Beloved seems to win everytime and always gets what she wants. As we can see, she has great power over Sethe. Beloved uses Sethe’s dark past to manipulate her and get what she wants. Beloved changes Sethe completely without her noticing. We can almost say that she’s back into slavery but this time with her own child.
Sethe doesn’t seem to be the only character to be affected by Beloved and her actions. Paul D and Denver are both uncomforted by Beloved throughout the novel at different times. Paul D immediately feels perturbed when seeing Beloved for the first time and later on just by being around her. “First minute I saw her I didn’t want to be nowhere near her. Something funny about her.” (276) It’s inexplicable. Paul D one day feels the urge to leave the house because of great uncomfort but doesn’t want to leave forever because he actually loves Sethe and wants to stay with her. Because of that, he goes to sleep at the cold house but Beloved goes and seduces him against his will. “I want you to touch me on the inside part and call me my name.” (137) Paul D has sex with Beloved even though he doesn’t want to and feels that it’s wrong. He later leaves 124 in order to get away from everything that has to do with Beloved and Sethe’s past. Paul D is no saint but he somehow can sense the evil in Beloved. Denver on the other hand is impacted by Beloved differently but ends up with the same result. When Beloved arrived at 124, Denver became attached to Beloved thinking she was the reincarnation of her sister. Beloved began to ignore and not care about Denver while Denver was on her tail at all times. This whole time Denver believes Sethe is the problem because she killed Beloved in the first place and as time passes by Beloved and Sethe begin to fight constantly. We can see right here that Beloved is such a strong and manipulative character that she can put a family against each other. Times passes by and Denver sees that it’s all the way around. Beloved is the problem and Sethe is the victim. Beloved has Denver blinded thinking her own mother is the problem. Somehow, Denver isn’t able to see Beloved’s manipulations towards her mother and Paul D. She is caught up in the idea that her deceased sister is now alive and that she can spend more time with her. Denver becomes so attached to Beloved because before her coming, Denver is alienated from the other kids and can’t bring herself to go out into the real world. Beloved becomes Denver’s blind spot which disables her ability to see or sense evil.
To conclude, Beloved’s influence in this novel is great. She makes the world in this narrative orbit and that’s why Toni Morrison decided to title it Beloved. Because of her death, no one ever comes close to 124 and the family inside. Beloved makes Sethe change completely, from a mother happy that her dead child is back to an obsessed mother trying to fix the past with present actions. Paul D is another character that is manipulated by Beloved while Denver is blinded by her. If Beloved weren’t in the novel, the story would not go as it does.