web space | free website | Business Hosting Services | Free Website Submission | shopping cart | php hosting

Highlighting Key

Pay particular attention of the house and to Sweet Home
Maintain a list of characters and characteristics
Motifs & Symbols
Look for: Home, Trees, Color, Man (manhood / masculinity), Rememory (time)
Tone & Mood
Highlight changes in the tone or mood of the narrative voice, particular characters, and the house itself
Look for: Ownership / Freedom, The Role of the Community, Self-Identity, Love / Relationships (both of lovers but also between all people), Language and its Uses, The Supernatural, and Slavery and its Repercussions.
Highlight any important parts that do not seem to fit into the above categories, such as clues to the unfolding mystery, beautiful figurative language, etc.





Student Led Presentations & Discussions on Toni Morrison’s Beloved

·        Each presentation should last 15 minutes and must actively engage the class while covering the assigned reading section.

·        If you will need any materials for the class (photocopies, overhead projector, etc.) you must inform Ms. Fischer at least three school days in advance.

·        Each presentation should focus on an essential question from the novel.

o       Some essential questions to consider:

§         What constitutes a home?

§         What constitutes freedom?

§         What constitutes a man?

§         What constitutes ownership?

§         How does society affect the individual?

·        Each presentation should relate their essential question to a theme or motif.

o       Some themes and motifs to consider:

§         Time / Rememory

§         Nature (trees, flowers, etc.)

§         Man / Manliness / Masculinity and/or Woman / Womanliness

§         Home

§         Ownership / Freedom

§         Slavery

§         Love / Relationships

§         Self-identity

§         The supernatural

§         The power and limitations of language

§         The role of community

·        Presentations may focus on a symbol from the novel.

o       Some symbols to consider:

§         Color (pay particular attention to red)

§         The tin tobacco box

§         Trees

·        Presentations may focus on a particular character and how that individual relates to the essential question, themes, motifs, other characters, the setting, etc.

·        Presentations may focus on a particular setting and how the setting relates to the essential question, themes, motifs, other characters, etc.

·        Presentations may be in game show form, skits, literary discussion circles, question and answer, etc. Be creative. Remember to delve deeply into this book while engaging your classmates. Ask tough questions. Don’t rely on plot summary.

·        You may assign your classmates work such as writing assignments related to the essential questions, themes, motifs, etc. or other activity sheets. You will, however, be required to collect and grade any work that you provide.

·        You may choose to structure your lesson as follows:

o       Do Now Activity (should last no longer than 3 minutes)

o       Mini Lesson (introduce the major ideas and concepts you are going to cover)

o        Class Activity (an individual or paired activity that will get students to critically think about the novel)

o       Class Discussion (be sure to write down several questions to facilitate discussion. Avoid basic recalling questions [what happened…, who did…, when did…], instead ask higher thinking question [why questions].)



Beloved Presentation / Student Led Discussion Rubric  


4 – Excellent

3 – Good

2 – Adequate

1 – Poor

Knowledgeableness-the presenter demonstrates a comprehensive knowledge of the text and the major themes, motifs, characters, and settings of the text.





Creativity- the presenter uses original ideas to make the class discussion interesting; the presenter does not repeat someone else’s good lesson idea.





Effectively Conveys Understanding of the Text- the presenter thoroughly teaches their section of the text. The teaching should be easily comprehensible to all students, but also challenging. Do not simply summarize the plot. Delve into Morrison’s themes and ideas.





Preparedness & Organization- The presenter is well organized, makes smooth transitions between activities. The presenter smoothly handles any obstacles or problems that arise (including classroom management issues).





Liveliness- the presenter effectively engages the class in a lively, productive manner. The presenter effectively facilitates class discussions and gets the class excited about the lesson. The reverse side of this is that the presenter is also able to maintain a reasonable level of decorum in the class and contains chaotic talking and disruptive behavior.





Each presentation counts as one test grade. Multiply your total score from the rubric by 5 points to calculate your grade. Team presentations will receive one shared grade.






Beloved by Toni Morrison

Pre Reading Chapter 1 Chapters 4 & 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Test Prep

  Pre Reading Questions

  1. What is spite?    
  2. How could a house be spiteful?    
  3. Why would you continue to live in a house that victimized you?  
  4.   What could make you runaway from home before the age of 13?  

Part One /  Chapter One

124 was spiteful.  Full of baby’s venom.  The women in the house knew it and so did the children.  For years each put up with the spite in his own way, but by 1873 Sethe and her daughter Denver were its only victims.  The grandmother, Baby Suggs, was dead, and the sons, Howard and Buglar, had run away by the time they were thirteen years old—as soon as merely looking in a mirror shattered it (that was the signal for Buglar); as soon as two tiny hand prints appeared in the cake (that was it for Howard).  Neither boy waited to see more; another kettleful of chickpeas smoking in a heap on the floor; soda crackers crumbled and strewn in a line next to the doorsill.  Nor did they wait for one of the relief periods: the weeks, months even, when nothing was disturbed.  No.  Each one fled at once—the moment the house committed what was for him the one insult not to be borne or witnessed a second time.  Within two months, in the dead of winter, leaving their grandmother, Baby Suggs; Sethe, their mother; and their little sister, Denver, all by themselves in the gray and white house on Bluestone Road.  It didn’t have a number then, because Cincinnati didn’t stretch that far.  In fact, Ohio had been calling itself a state only seventy years when first one brother and then the next stuffed quilt packing into his hat, snatched up his shoes, and crept away from the lively spite the house felt for them.


Baby Suggs didn’t even raise her head.  From her sickbed she heard them go but that wasn’t the reason she lay still.  It was a wonder to her that her grandsons had taken so long to realize that every house wasn’t like the one on Bluestone Road.  Suspended between the nastiness of life and the meanness of the dead, she couldn’t get interested in leaving life or living it, let alone the fright of two creeping-off boys.  Her past had been like her present—intolerable—and since she knew dead was anything but forgetfulness, she used the little energy left her for pondering color.


“Bring a little lavender in, if you got any.  Pink, if you don’t.”


And Sethe would oblige her with anything from fabric to her own tongue.  Winter in Ohio was especially rough if you had an appetite for color.  Sky provided the only drama, and counting on a Cincinnati horizon for life’s principal joy was reckless indeed.  So Sethe and the girl Denver did what they could, and what the house permitted, for her.  Together they waged a perfunctory battle against the outrageous behavior of that place; against turned-over slop jars, smacks on the behind, and gusts of sour air.  For they understood the source of the outrage as well as they knew the source of light.


Baby Suggs died shortly after the brothers left, with no interest whatsoever in their leave-taking or hers, and right afterward Sethe and Denver decided to end the persecution by calling forth the ghost that tried them so.  Perhaps a conversation, they thought, an exchange of views or something would help.  So they held hands and said, “Come on.  Come on.  You may as well just come on.”


The sideboard took a step forward but nothing else did.


“Grandma Baby must be stopping it,” said Denver.  She was ten and still mad at Baby Suggs for dying.


Sethe opened her eyes.  “I doubt that,” she said.


“Then why don’t it come?”


“You forgetting how little it is,” said her mother.  She wasn’t even two years old when she died.  Too little to understand.  Too little to talk much even.”

Setting: 124 Bluestone Road, Cincinnati, Ohio in the year 1873

Mood: Spiteful

Characters: Grandmother Baby Suggs (now deceased), Daughter-in-law Sethe, her children Howard, Buglar (runaways), and Denver (who remains)

Figurative Language: The house is being given human qualities (feelings of spite and the ability to insult the family); this is personification.

Why might Baby Suggs’s mood be apathetic when her grandsons runaway?

Motif: A recurrent theme in Beloved is the idea of color.

Setting: What is unusual about this house?  What inference can you make from the information so far?

The house is haunted!  This is both an aspect of the setting, but also the introduction of a new character: the ghost.

Denver is ten when Baby Suggs dies and she feels angry.

The ghost is a baby, a child who died before her second birthday.

Chapter 1 Questions

1. The novel is dedicated to Sixty Million and more, what do you think this means?

2. The epigraph at the beginning of the novel reads:

I will call them my people,
which were not my people;
and her beloved,
which was not beloved.
Romans 9:25

What do you think this means? How can you connect the meaning of this epigraph with the novel?

3. How did Sethe pay for her baby girl’s headstone? What does this suggest about Sethe’s character?

4. What is written on the headstone? Why?

5. What is the story behind the tree on Sethe’s back?

6. What does the tree on Sethe’s back symbolize?

7. What were the Garners like? How did they treat their slaves?

8. What is Sethe’s attitude toward the baby ghost? How is the similar or different to Denver’s attitude toward the ghost?

9. What is Denver’s attitude toward Paul D? Why?

10. Explain the significance of the name of the slave farm Sweet Home?

Chapter 4 Questions

  1. What do Sethe and Paul D fight about?
  2. Why does Paul D think loving too much is dangerous? What is his solution?
  3. What do the shadows holding hands symbolize as Paul D, Sethe, and Denver walk to the carnival?
  4. What is the mood of each of the following characters as they go to the carnival: Sethe, Paul D, and Denver?
  5. How does Denver’s attitude change by the end of the chapter? Why?

Chapter 5 Questions & Notes

Ms. Fischer’s Notes

  • Archetypes are symbols or characters that occur throughout world literature and different cultures.
  • Water is an archetype symbolizing transition, rebirth, and/or cleansing.
  • Trees are a recurrent motif throughout the novel. Pay attention to the role of trees and water in this chapter.
  1. Physically describe the woman who calls herself Beloved. What does she look like? What is her skin like? What is she dressed like? How does she feel physically? What does her voice sound like?
  2. What is Sethe’s initial reaction to the appearance of this new woman? What might this symbolize?
  3. How does Denver respond to the appearance of this new woman? Why does she act this way?
  4. What does Paul D witness Beloved do that he finds incongruous to her apparent illness?
  5. What does Denver lie about? What is her motivation to lie?
  6. Explain the meaning and the significance of the final line of the chapter.

Chapter 6

  1. How is the shadow imagery in the opening paragraph of chapter 6 different from the shadow imagery in chapter 4 (the carnival)? Why is this significant?
  2. Why didn’t Sethe wear her earrings until she arrived at 124?
  3. Describe Sethe’s wedding dress. Explain its significance.
  4. What distinguished Sethe from her siblings? Why is this significant?

Chapter 7

  1. What breaks Halle’s spirit? Why does this effect him so much?
  2. Explain the significance of the butter Halle puts on his face.
  3. Explain the significance of Paul D’s encounter with the rooster Mister.
  4. How does the tobacco tin work on a symbolic level?

Chapter 8

  1. Who does Denver think Beloved is? Why?
  2. How does Beloved describe the place she came from? What are the different possible places she might be describing?
  3. What new information do we learn about Denver’s birth?

Chapter 9

  1. Why was Baby Suggs known as Baby Suggs, holy?
  2. What happens in the Clearing? Why is this important in the lives of the freed blacks?
  3. What happens to Sethe in the Clearing? Why? Who is responsible?
  4. Who is Beloved most jealous of? Why?
  5. What is Beloved’s explanation for the choking incident? What might this symbolize?
  6. Why does Denver go deaf? What occurs that makes her hearing return? What is the symbolic significance of her deafness?

Chapter 10

  1. Why was Paul D sent to Alfred, Georgia?
  2. What were the conditions like in Alfred, Georgia? Be detailed and specific.
  3. How do the men escape?

Chapter 11

  1. Who is the “she” referred to in the first sentence? Who is she moving and how?
  2. Explain Paul D’s “house-fits.”
  3. Explain what occurs to Paul D’s tobacco tin at the end of the chapter. What might this mean symbolically?

Questions to ponder as we continue to read...

  • How are trees used symbolically throughout the novel?
  • How does Sweet Home represent the paradoxes implicit in the practice of slavery?
  • How does the institution of slavery effect motherhood?

Questions to Study for the Test on Monday, May 21

1. Explain the meaning of the reference in the epigraph, “Sixty Million and more.”

2. What have been the circumstances of Amy Denver's life?

3. In what ways does Amy help Sethe?

4. What is Denver's response to the newcomer, Beloved?

5. What types of information does Denver conceal about Beloved? What do you think may be her motive?

6. What memories does Sethe have of her mother? What does Sethe know about her father and her siblings?

7. What is Paul D.'s attitude toward the newcomer, Beloved?

8. What new facts about her husband's death does Paul D. reveal to Sethe?

9. What is significant about Paul D.'s memories of a rooster?

10. What kind of formal education does Denver receive, and how does it end?

11. What were the circumstances of Paul D.'s prison work camp?

12. How do the neighbors respond to Baby Sugg's party? What ominous presentiment does she have?

13. How had Baby Suggs received her name, and why does she keep it?

14. What account is contained in the newspaper article Stamp Paid shows Paul D.? On what grounds does Paul D. reject its authenticity?

15. Why did Howard and Buglar runaway (besides the haunting of the ghost)?

16. What is it about Sethe’s character that makes the black community turn

against her (not her actions, but her personality)?

17. Explain the idea of rememory?

18. How does Paul D escape from Alfred, Georiga?

19. What event prompts Stamp Paid to change his name?

20. When exactly in the book does Sethe realize Beloved’s true identity? Find the precise line and page number.

21. Why does Stamp Paid keep a red ribbon? What does this ribbon symbolize?

22. How does Sethe reinterpret the hand-holding shadows in chapter 19?

23. What is the premise behind the schoolteacher’s study of the slaves at Sweet Home?

24. What details from the book suggest that Beloved in really a baby that looks like an adult? Find specific quotations and details from the text.

25. Explain the role of the blackberries in the book. What do they symbolize? How do these impact the major events in the book?