Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Importance of Names

Here's the symbolism of names within Beloved.

·       Baby Suggs
o   “Suggs is my name, sir. From my husband. He didn’t call me Jenny.”
“What he call you?”
“Baby.” (167)
o   After she was freed she took a name more personal to her.
o   Only thing she had left of her husband
·       Paul D Garner
o   “Shackled, walking through the perfumed things honeybees love, Paul D hears the men talking and for the first time learns his worth. He has always known, or believed he did, his value – as a hand, a laborer who could make profit on a farm – but now he discovers his worth, which is no way to say he learns his price. The dollar value of his weight, his strength, his heart, his brain, his penis, and his future.” (167)
o   The lack of identity
o   To whites, they are all the same
o   Their only importance is their monetary value
·       Halle
o   “God take what He would,’ She said. And He did, and He did, and He did and then gave her Halle who gave her freedom when it didn’t mean a thing. Sethe had the amazing luck of six whole years of marriage to that “somebody” son who fathered every one of her children. A blessing she was reckless enough to take for granted.” (28)
o   Halle could be seen to symbolize the word hallelujah.
o   Hallelujah conveys thanks for any blessing one might receive
o   I think Halle was a “hallelujah” to his mother and Sethe, because he not only bought his mother freedom, but also blessed his wife with having all her children by one man
·       Stamp Paid
o   “Born Joshua, he renamed himself when he handed over his wife to his master’s son. Handed her over in the sense that he did not kill anybody, thereby himself, because his wife demanded he stay alive.”(274)
o   Like Baby Suggs, Stamp Paid also created a new identity for himself
o   After giving his wife to his master, he figured his “stamp” was “paid.”
o   He paid for his journey to freedom through his wife
o   Morrison shows us how deeply slavery controls one’s sense of self
·       Denver
o   “She’s never gonna know who I am. You gonna tell her? Who brought her into this here world?” She lifted her chin, looked off into the place where the sun used to be. “You better tell her. You hear? Say Miss Amy Denver. Of Boston.” P. 100
o   Named after the last name of the whitegirl that helped deliver her
o   She was given an identity
·       Beloved
o   “They forgot her. Like an unpleasant dream during a troubling sleep. Occasionally, however, the rustle of a skirt hushes when they wake, and the knuckles brushing a cheek in sleep seem to belong to the sleeper. Sometimes the photograph of a close friend or relative – looked at too long – shifts, and something more familiar than the dear face itself moves there. They can touch it if they like, but don’t, because they know things will never be the same if they do.” (324)
o   She got her name from her tombstone
o   Her death was the result of her mothers love
o   It was the same mother that almost drove herself to death just to please her

o   In the end she doesn’t seem to be so “beloved” anymore, because she fades out of everyone’s memory just as quickly as she came in.

1 comment:

Brooke M. Hathaway said...

I also think Morrison's use of names is another part of her genius. I would have never though that Halle's name was a symbol for "hallelujah." The way Morrison's slyly slips in those types of motifs and symbols makes the novel endlessly more captivating. They really do work so well in converting and capturing her overall themes of the novel.