The novel talks about unloving children because a slave only needs to watch out for themselves, this passage focuses on the struggles in family life that slaves witness. They do not become attached to their children because they know that they will not be able to stay with them. This passage is an example of internal grief which is a prominent motif in the novel, Baby Suggs and Sethe carry their grief which they fight to overcome.
Baby Suggs has internal grief in the beginning of the novel, in this passage specifically, due to the fact that she has forgotten everything about her children because they have all died. In this passage she accepts the fact that Halle is most likely dead as well. Baby Suggs is sad about Halle’s death because Halle is the only child she really got to know. Halle cared about his mother and worked to pay for her freedom from slavery. After Baby Suggs leaves slavery she grows among her community as a leader and as a role model of sorts but she becomes depressed because she knows that Sethe killed Beloved.
Although Baby Suggs is dead during most of the novel and is minorly mentioned in flashbacks she has a prominent role in the novel as a whole. Her character summarizes the black hardship and the difficulties they faced and have overcome. Even though she has lost every one of her children, lost friends, and was treated cruelly she finds a way to be happy and teach others to love themselves. These ideas relate back to the passage because it shows how calm and caring Baby Suggs is regardless of all the guilt and hardship she has experienced and she has overcome her struggles until she is dying when she becomes depressed.
The most obvious character with internal guilt is Sethe. Sethe constantly worries about what other people think and she worries about her past actions. In the passage she is showing her guilt because she is worrying about her murdered child Beloved haunting the house. Without Baby Suggs’ comfort Sethe would worry, because now that she has escaped slavery she realizes how terrible her decision to murder her child was. Sethe has to live with the guilt of attempting to murder three of her children and only having Denver left from it since the boys ran away because they knew about their mother’s plan to kill them.
Although her murder was an act of love for her children she can’t help but to feel guilt for the baby who was “already crawling” and never had a chance to grow up. The best example of Sethe’s guilt in the novel can be contributed to her naievety when it comes to noticing that Beloved is actually her reincarnated, and grown, murdered baby. Even though all the signs are in front of her she doesn’t realize that it’s her daughter until the end of the novel after Beloved hums a song that Sethe used to sing for her children. Even though Paul D warned her multiple times of Beloved’s eeriness she chose not to pay attention to her issues and she created excuses for Beloved’s odd behavior.
These details are important to note when thinking about Sethe’s internal guilt, she has gone through so much in her life and been tortured, humiliated, and tried so instead of facing facts and thinking about what things might be she instead just goes with what is easiest to comprehend. Because of the guilt and turmoil she has been subjected to she has become emotionless and uncaring towards Denver especially. When Beloved comes along she shows care for her daughters in a new found way because she has lost the guilt of murdering her child since she has returned to her.
When you go through hardships in life and you see things that destroy you mentally and physically it can ruin your psyche. For Sethe and Baby Suggs the things that hurt them was the guilt they carried from lost loved ones. The loss of their children contributed to their leadership and motherly roles in the novel by portraying their strong mental abilities to move on past hardships and live in the moment. Although each character has their moments of doubt they have escaped their internal grief they carried on their back ultimately becoming good people that look out for others and not just themselves.