In a work of fiction, a writer uses different characters to evolve a story and convey his idea through their personality. Without characters and their development, the story cannot progress. Some of the characters are also author’s spokespersons. Toni Morrison’s Beloved has characters demonstrating the author’s ideas about racial discrimination, slavery, and personal traumas. Some of the major characters of Beloved have been discussed below.
Characters in Beloved
Sethe is the major character of the novel and belongs to the African American community. She demonstrates nobleness of her character and pride of her race and grows up as a slave child not knowing her mother’s the name. She is sold and re-sold and finally reaches Sweet Home where Halle Suggs marries her. After having four children, she flees from Sweet Home to escape slavery but is tracked down by the brutal master, the Schoolteacher. To save her children from suffering, she kills her daughter, Beloved. However, when she leaves Sweet Home after winning freedom, she makes 124 in Cincinnati as her home. There, she constantly faces the ghost of Beloved which makes her two sons run away. Later, her mother-in-law Baby Suggs also comes to her, and they all live happily with tragic reminiscences of their past. By the end of the novel, she almost becomes mad but tries to start a new life with Paul D, who returns to her.
Though her name is Baby Suggs, she was called Whitlow by her owners. She wins freedom when her son, Halle pays for her. However, she does not understand the importance of freedom and thinks that she is too old. Later, at the 124 Cincinnati, she transforms herself into a preacher and becomes a holy lady in the community. She holds gatherings in the forest located nearby. She becomes forlorn and exhausted when Sethe kills Beloved. After a few years when Sethe’s sons run way from the house, she becomes too weak and dies. She leaves an impact on Sethe as she comes to terms with life.
Denver is Sethe’s second daughter and lives with her. She was named after a white lady, Amy Denver, who helped Sethe deliver her. That is why she always insists on stories of Amy. She was born when Sethe escapes from the North. Although she is quite young, she feels afraid and lonely when her mother is not at home. Until she was 12, she did not leave the lawn of her home in Cincinnati. Initially, she becomes highly obsessed with the presence of Beloved. However, Denver becomes highly independent and strong, supporting her mother by the end. She also understands the plight her mother has gone through.
The first Beloved is the daughter of Sethe whom she kills when she is caught fleeing Sweet Home. The second Beloved is the ghost that appears at 124 in Cincinnati. The identity of the ghost remains very indefinable. She may also be a ghost of her third child, Beloved. The ghost Beloved is not only limited in language ability, but she is also very soft like a baby, and emotionally an unbalanced. Beloved also narrates mysterious stories about her past. Due to that, Sethe becomes emotional and takes care of her. However, with time, the ghost Beloved becomes highly furious, temperamental and almost self-centered. She disappears by the end of the novel when Sethe recalls her ‘slave master’ coming again.
The schoolteacher held many slaves at Sweet Home. One of the slaves, Sethe faces him before being freed. He is Mr. Garner’s brother-in-law and the owner of Sweet Home. He is a psychopath who enjoyed treating his subjects cruelly and doesn’t stop his nephews when they mistreat Sethe. He even punishes Sethe for disclosing the same information to her master, Mr. Garner. It is unclear what happens to this schoolteacher by the end of the novel.
Paul D was also a slave at Sweet Home. He has lived with Sixo, Halle and two other Pauls over there. He wanders during the Civil War and also gets tortured by Schoolteacher who is very much against him due to his love for Sethe. Later, he appears at 124 in Cincinnati and lives with Sethe, but the ghost of Beloved turns against him. He tries to escape the past through his tobacco tin, but Sethe, as well as Beloved, force him to confront his past. He leaves 124 but later returns when Sethe faces a mental crisis.
Mr. Garner, the owner of Sethe, is a minor character. He is known for his kindness towards his slaves and treated them humanely. It is also trusted his slaves do things otherwise unimaginable at any slave house like allowing them to handle guns at the expense of danger to his life. However, despite his kindness and generosity, it shows some contradictions and hypocritical attitude in the end.
Six is one of the slaves at Sweet Home. He is painted in indigo color at the beginning of the story, having markedly different features than other slaves. He is one of the slaves who speaks English and is well-versed in his mother tongue. One of his character traits is to rebel against his masters. That is why he does not like to be confined at any plantation and tries to escape as soon as he finds a chance. He is described as gentle despite being rebellious, but that part of his nature is reserved for his own community.
She is a white indentured lady who helps Sethe when delivering Denver. Denver is named after Amy Denver. She has been trying to go to Boston to get some carmine to color her clothes when she encounters Sethe. Her kind act stays with Sethe at 124, and she recites that incident whenever Denver, her daughter, forces her.
Although his original name is Joshua, he gets this name after his wife is raped by his master. He feels that he has paid all the debts of his wife and that it has been stamped. He mostly works as an agent for the Underground Railroad and has been shown as a problem solver of his community in the novel. He again appears at 124 and convinces the community living around the house to assist Sethe, resolving her problem.