Both Happy it is Done, And Sad to be Moving Forward

As past-Meghan crossed the threshold into this course, she was filled with passion, intrigue, and an endless list of questions, wondering where the road laid out in front of her would lead. As I stand here today, looking out into the vast openness of the future, I long to be back where I was in January; and that is not to say I would like to lose what I have learned and gained, but to be wrapped in the safe and comforting arms of a fresh start. With only a few months of summer separating me from my final semester of college (before graduate school, which is a whole other story), I feel that both/and is probably the most accurate way to sum up this mass of unmanageable emotions swirling in my mind. I find myself feeling both happy to be done, and sad to be moving forward. This contradictory statement would not be something I normally admit so openly, but based on what I have learned thus far, I find that this statement actually brings me comfort, and I can relate to those that have experienced this similar feeling before me.

New to me this semester, among many things, was this concept of both/and. Intended to make room for multiple people’s experiences, both/and does not promote wallowing, but instead creates breathing room to work through these experiences. Toni Morrison explores this concept of both/and through her trilogy including Beloved, Jazz, and Paradise, while applying the both/and in alignment with Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. As a reader of literature, I am constantly looking for connections where there might not be, and in the case of Morrison and Dante, while I may have previously doubted the connection, I now can see that Morrison was able to both build off of, and add to, Dante’s famed work. This creates an element of collaboration between Morrison and Dante, and makes me think of my own experiences with collaboration, where you both guide yourself and let yourself be guided by others.

The collective idea of collaboration is universal, intended to bring together unlikely allies and create a culmination of unique ideas. This practice is at the heart of Morrison’s work, and similarly, my own. My success this semester is a result of my collaborative experiences, and the appreciation that I have gained for a shared effort like this is immeasurable. Not only have I experienced successful collaboration first-hand, I have read about it in the works of Morrison herself. Even in fiction collaborations remain tried and true. For the collaborative essay regarding Beloved, my favorite text of this semester, my group members and I took a deep dive into the story of Paul D; one of the text’s main characters who, at one point in the novel, was imprisoned and faced a great deal of suffering before escaping with his fellow prisoners. Finding a guide in fellow prisoner Hi-Man, the men take their opportunity amidst a rainstorm, relying only on each other to escape the brutality of their imprisonment, “Some lost direction and their neighbors, feeling the confused pull of the chain, snatched them around. For one lost, all lost. The chain that held them would save all or none, and Hi Man was the Delivery” (Morrison 130). As Paul D. and the others put their faith in each other, they were able to do the unthinkable; guiding one another away from the horrors they were enduring and taking their lives into their own hands. Reliance is something that does not come easy to a lot of people, especially in a collaborative effort where the purpose is to rely not just on yourself, but on others to lead the movement towards success.

As we progressed through the semester, and onto our next collaborative essays, I found myself in a much better headspace, feeling significantly more willing to place my trust in other people and our abilities as a group. We entered into the world of Jazz, my other favorite text of the course. Jazz was not easy, however, for encountering a story without justice for a powerless young woman is a painful story to explore in depth. As we approached this text in alignment with Dante the Poet’s Purgatorio, we ventured into a whole new realm of collaboration. While not so much a collaboration, more of a shared experience which is at the heart of the both/and concept; husband and wife, Violet and Joe Trace are haunted by the presence of Dorcas, Joe’s young lover who he murdered, “And a dead girl’s face has become a necessary thing for their nights. They each take turns to … tiptoe over cold linoleum into the parlor to gaze at what seems like the only living presence in the house: the photograph of a bold, unsmiling girl staring from the mantlepiece” (Morrison 34). As we explored this text and the harrowing story of a young girl taken advantage of, we explored how the couple felt both trapped and in a sense freed by this lingering presence hanging over their marriage, which brought them to a new stage in their lives. The idea of modern day justice has made me think aggressively towards Joe Trace, the arguable villain of this text, while relatives of Dorcas like her Aunt Alice are merely satisfied by the physical atonement and lamentation of Joe’s tears and so-called sadness over his crime, symbolizing her willingness to not wallow in this moment. It is rather interesting how one can be both relieved that something is over, and sad that it has happened, is it not?

Transitioning from Jazz to Morrison’s final in the trilogy Paradise, was something that I was rather quite looking forward to, but is now something I look back on with disdain. The hardest text for me to read and comprehend, Paradise brought forward a brand new form of collaboration, not just in the text, but in my real life experience as well. In this novel, it is conflict that breeds collaboration, and the townsfolk in Ruby were not able to come together to unite in collaboration until there was violent conflict. For my group, meeting for the final time, we were riding the low of our Jazz collaborative experience, where I fear we spent too much time flailing around in the weeds. It felt as if we were starting completely anew, much like the younger generation of Ruby who had to create a new platform for the people to stand on, moving away from the outdated experiences of the older, “‘It’s our history too, sir. Not just yours”’ (Morrison 86). Concerned for the progress of the town, the younger generation took great care in determining their place in the community. In a similar way, my group was hoping to use the experience of previous collaborations to come together for a final time, strengthened by our received feedback and optimism for what we could create. Unfortunately for the townspeople, it took an aggressive pursuit of the estranged Convent women for them to realize the error of their ways. This pursuit was a darker representation of successful collaboration as the older generation became united in their anger and took it out on these innocent women. Following this, there is a semblance of collaboration as they realize the error of their ways and intend to maintain the Oven as a representation of their community, “The graffiti on the hood of the Oven now was ‘We are the furrow of His brow’” (Morrison 361). The collective “we” speaks to a future of unity, and when I speak of “we” in regards to my collaborative experiences, I am drawn to the power of eight minds coming together as one.

With the semester coming to a close, I prepare to leave another collection of completed classes in my rearview. I think back on all this class has taught me about myself as a student, a future teacher, and a reader of literature. These parts of my identity are integral to my future in all realms, providing me with the strength I need to succeed. As these elements were confronted with the task of a collaborative essay I felt feelings of both nervousness and excitement as this is something I had yet to experience in my time as a student. In my education classes, there is much time spent in collaborative groups, but at the end of the day, when I become a teacher it is just me in front of 30 young children who expect me to know what to do day-to-day for 10 months. I am not used to relying on others, especially in regards to exploring such texts as Morrison has written. As seen in these texts, the act of collaborating appears in many different ways and contributes to the difficult task of committing oneself to multiple other people in order to achieve a common goal. I cannot speak for Morrison herself, I can only take what her texts have shared with me, which is that collaboration can be embedded in the most unique of stories and experiences. It is intended to both create new paths, and alter the ones that have already been laid out.

As current-Meghan prepares to cross the threshold into the future she continues to be filled with passion, intrigue, and an endless list of new questions. However, I am armed now with a whole new set of experiences that have provided me with an extremely full toolbox of skills regarding my ability to be a contributing member of a variety of collaborative experiences. As someone who regards herself as quite an introvert, struggling to accept the power I hold, I look back with pride on my experiences in this course, feeling that what I leave behind are productive moments and essential contributions. I remain feeling both happy to be done with this semester, and sad to be moving forward, unsure of what waits for me in the coming months and years, but feeling that with these newly developed skills regarding collaboration, I will be facing none of this unknown by myself.

Birds of a Feather

Shauna Blochwitz, Isabelle Covert, Hailey Cullen, Madolley Donzo, Genesis Flores, Meghan Havens, Laryssa Olsen, Emily Loper

Justice and virtue are human traits, just the same as injustice and immorality, and are rife with human complexities. Dante Alighieri’s Paradiso discusses justice and virtue as holy, based in immutable divinity that means human conceptions of justice come secondary to the divine conception of the term. “Individual souls composing the eagle have finished singing, the eagle tells the Pilgrim to watch its eye closely as it points out six famous souls who were champions of justice on earth” (Canto XX). As demonstrated in this quote, Dante the Poet depicts divine justice as portrayed by the Divine Eagle of Justice, composed of multiple paragons of virtue, who combine to create a being that is representative of God and Their justice. The Eagle’s curved eyebrow has five stars following the curve, each star representing a man, and the eye representing David (see the iconic illustration from Mark Musa’s edition of Paradiso). The men who make up the eye and brow of the Eagle were all men of power; kings and emperors whose accomplishments included being rulers, prophets, poets, representatives of justice who punished wrongdoers, and who lived holy lives dedicated to God and Their will. The Eagle speaks to Dante the Pilgrim, “‘You men who live on earth, be slow to judge, for even we who see God face to face still do not know the list of His elect, but we find this defect of ours a joy, since in this good perfected is our good; for whatsoever God wills we will too’” (Canto XX).

In contrast to the Eagle in Paradiso representing divine justice that rewards those who are righteous, Dante uses serpents in Inferno to execute justice by punishing sinners. In Canto XXV, there is a six-foot snake that ingests two sinners as a punishment, becoming one with their bodies. “It [serpent] gripped his belly with its middle feet, and with its forefeet grappled his two arms; and then it sank its teeth in both his cheeks … No ivy ever gripped a tree so fast as when that horrifying monster clasped and intertwined the other’s limbs with its” (Canto XXV). Dante’s exploration of justice with the serpent originates from the idea that those who sin deserve to physically become the monsters they were in life. While the snake and Eagle both portray a divine justice, one comes from a place of upholding peace and acting in God’s Will, while the other originates from a compulsive nature to bring harm to those who have dealt harm to others. Dante faces questions about what is just and good from a human perspective, but the representatives of God, like the Eagle, reinforce that God’s justice is final and constant, and does not consider the human conception of what is just or unjust, and that it is difficult, if not impossible, for humans to conceptualize the will of God.

In Toni Morrison’s Paradise, the Oven had been built in the town of Haven by the ancestors of Ruby’s inhabitants to demonstrate community and communal living. During this time, “Haven people brought the kill to the Oven and stayed…to gossip, complain, roar with laughter and drink walking coffee” (Morrison 15). The Oven was the center point for them in Haven. It brought the families together and gave them a sense of belonging. However, the Oven lost its usage when the community in Haven was no longer flourishing, and they were forced to find a new space. Members of Haven un-bricked the Oven, packed it into trucks, and carried it on their journey to find a new home. Settling in Ruby, they re-bricked the oven as the women watched, feeling resentment for the space taken up by these bricks; space that could’ve held supplies and other necessities. The women of Ruby didn’t need the Oven; they didn’t have any use for it. There was no need to lug food there to cook because they now had cookstoves in their kitchens.

At the beginning of resettlement, the Oven was a space for baptisms. Ruby people would head toward it to “embrace [and] congratulate one another” after baptisms, but this purpose became obsolete as the Churches invested in indoor pools and vessels to perform baptisms (Morrison 103). “A utility became a shrine” (Morrison 103). The older generation—especially Deek and Steward—revered the oven because it was something that their grandfathers had put together. The newer generation, however, used it as a place to hang out. Throughout the book, they could be seen lounging around the Oven, talking and laughing. Prior to the events in Paradise, it is presumed that one of the younger people drew a fist on the Oven, which is supposed to demonstrate a new way of thinking; one where they are beckoning modernization and autonomy. However, this defamation of the Oven leads to a large disagreement between the members of Ruby and ties into the uproar that ensues, ending with the men raiding the Convent, a mansion outside of Ruby full of strange women. The men that conduct a hostile takeover of the Convent meet at the Oven to discuss their plans, demonstrating that while the Oven doesn’t have many purposes left, it remains a meeting place. They spend most of the night gathering themselves, eating food, and talking strategy. Once they’ve convinced themselves that this is the right way to handle things, they leave the Oven to remain the symbol that it has become; representing something different to everyone that lives in Ruby.

In Paradise, the Oven is an important, central object for those living in Ruby. For them, it stands for everything their ancestors went through to survive and thrive in this place. That includes values, like respecting authority and being willing to do whatever it takes, and the strength of the community, which is shown in the entire community using the Oven for various things. The shape of the Oven, however, is eerily similar to the shape of the Eye and Brow of the Divine Eagle of Justice—which is interesting, because community-based justice was also a founding value of Ruby. The Oven is “round as a head, deep as desire,” and was built by the founding families using bricks (Morrison 6). It also has an “iron plate five feet by two” which they “set… at the base of the Oven’s mouth” (Morrison 7). These values are encapsulated in the inscription on that iron lip, parallel to the Brow of the Eagle, the truth of which the townspeople do not agree on: either “Beware the Furrow of His Brow” or “Be the Furrow of His Brow.” This argument, split mainly along generational lines, follows deeper conflict in how to run the town now that they’re not struggling to survive and for the most part well-off: do they keep the extreme values and expectations or loosen them?

Ruby’s residents find themselves divergent on their recollection and interpretation of the words inscribed on the oven’s lip. The older generations of Ruby claim it read “Beware the Furrow of His Brow,” while the younger generations want to give it new life with the phrase “Be the Furrow of His Brow.” The oven, initially a uniting symbol among the townspeople, is now representative of intergenerational conflict that will affect the future history of Ruby. Reverend Pulliam claims, “‘Beware the Furrow of his Brow.’ That’s what it says clear as daylight. That’s not a suggestion; that’s an order!,” asserting their power in the hierarchy of Ruby as the founders of this utopian society to which the younger generations must adhere to (Morrison 86). This interpretation has a heavy air of authority, attempting to instill a sense of control over the youngsters. Conversely, those opposed to the oven’s motto as “Beware the Furrow of His Brow” suggest that the phrasing should reflect ownership over their futures, not being God themselves but instead acting as an extension of his power, “Yes, sir, but we are obeying Him,’ said Destry. ‘If we follow His commandments, we’ll be His voice, His retribution”’ (Morrison 87). Rather than being the power, the younger generation would prefer to use the power of the divine, forging their own path free of the dictatorial control of Ruby.

Confronted with an unfinished inscription, “…the Furrow of His Brow,” the older and younger generations enter into an intergenerational conflict surrounding the excessive desire of the elders to maintain the traditions of the past, while the younger generations recognize that this no longer serves their community. One of the main arguments made by those collected in the younger generation is the necessary outlook for the group as a whole claiming: “‘It’s our history too, sir. Not just yours’” (Morrison 86). Whereas, the older generation is intending to maintain their power by threatening the newer generations, “Harper Jury silenced him. ‘It says ‘Beware.’ Not ‘Be.’ Beware means ‘Look out. The power is mine. Get used to it’” (Morrison 86). Just as the oven and its inscription becomes a symbol of controversy among the community, the older generations come to compare the betrayal of the younger generations to that of a snake with malevolent intentions to their cause. Giving the older generation the last word, Steward Morgan issues this chilling threat, “‘If you, any one of you, ignore, change, take away, or add to the words in the mouth of that Oven, I will blow your head off just like you was a hood-eye snake”’ (Morrison 87). This conflict parallels how Dante the Poet views sinners as serpents, being betrayed by their own as the residents of Ruby clash amongst themselves.

Rather than carrying physical power, the descendants of the founding families exude symbolic power, radiating superiority based on their names and their interpretations of the events that led to the town’s formation. Up until now, the Oven had been a staple in the community, serving a multitude of purposes. Now, the Oven is viewed as an artifact by those that have never seen it in use: “Minus the baptisms the oven had no real value. What was needed back in the Haven’s early days had never been needed in Ruby” (Morrison 103). This fact has controlled the narrative, leading to the older generations reflecting on the religious and historical value of the Oven in their formative years and the younger generations refusing to conform based on outdated principles. As seen in Dante’s Paradiso, the Divine Eagle of Justice is representative of uniformity and peace, aligning with the values of the older generations. Its antithesis is the snake, but as a symbol, an eagle carrying a snake represents great change. This hints at the possibility of collaboration between the older and younger generations to resolve this great conflict.

Dante and Morrison both write about coming to terms with power and the various forms it takes, both in actionable and symbolic power. This is demonstrated in the symbol of the Oven representing the real power of the people of Ruby. The ability to tell when someone or something is actually powerful versus just a mirage is a valuable and important skill, as the individual and collective need to recognize their own power and know they can stand up to false representations, like the younger generation of Ruby. By the end of the novel, after ambushing the Convent and killing and driving out its residents, the young people of Ruby seem to come to a consensus as to what the words on the Oven should be: replacing “Be the Furrow of His Brow” or “Beware the Furrow of His Brow” with “We Are the Furrow of His Brow” (Morrison 298). This change seems to suggest that rather than aspiring to be God’s “justice” and “voice” by obeying Him and His commandments, the younger members of the community now feel that they are all of these things, whether they want to be or not (Morrison 87). They seem to realize that being an “instrument” of God without any choice in the matter means doing things that may not always be pleasing to enact, and that they may not always agree with (Morrison 87). Being “His retribution” means serving justice in ways that may not be comfortable or seem fair, yet the town of Ruby as a collective needs to because of the role they have taken as their own Eagle of Divine Justice (Morrison 87). While not exactly creating a compromise to decide on the words on the Oven, the older members of the community seem to agree with the phrase written by the youth only after they attack the Convent and see what that act did to the community as a whole.

The men of Ruby are dealing with the fallout of their actions, of doing things that they felt they were entitled to do because of their perceived connection to God and his justice. In other words, the older generation supports the words on the Oven essentially by talking about how they have already proven they “are the Furrow of His Brow,” whereas the younger generation is in the process of proving this statement true by trying to maintain that culture of taking action. It is due to this slight difference of interpretation of the words on the Oven, and the actions taken based on this phrase, that the town of Ruby is experiencing a shift. One is able to understand how collaboration does not necessarily mean complete agreement; since there is a difference of interpretation, but agreement on what the words on the Oven should be, the collaboration gets muddled when courses of action are taken. Essentially, “progress” can not be experienced exclusively, it can only be achieved alongside minor “setbacks.” The perceived “progress” of their collaboration only happened in the aftermath of an attack on extricated members of the community, this “setback” creating a change in opinion and causing the townspeople to feel that they are in agreement with one another.

As prevalent as these issues of power and justice are in the town of Ruby, these kinds of issues are just as prevalent and numerous in the world today. As politics, law, and society seem to be losing all the values that have been so important for generations (like collaboration, community, and caring for others), it’s important for people to keep in mind where real power and real justice lie. The power of community and the collective cannot be overplayed; banding together to seek justice for each other is one of the most important roles we have as individuals in our society. If we can collaborate with one another on the issues we all see, there is a good chance we can start to remedy them. This is something that was discussed by Dante in the middle ages, and by Toni Morrison in the twentieth century; this has and will always be discussed because these issues seem to persist as long as we do. The stakes in the novel Paradise may seem high for this issue, but the stakes are truly much higher. With systemic issues such as violence and discrimination against women and people of color that are built into governmental institutions, the only way we can combat them is by banding together as a community and fighting for each other, and that is the only way justice can truly be achieved.

In English 431, we have had the opportunity to practice the skills of collaborating and caring for each other and our learning as a collective. As this group in particular, we have collaborated on three essays, each time learning more about how to work through our differences in interpretations of the literature we’ve read, give each other feedback with care, and produce insightful ideas that we would not be able to realize on our own. Through this process of collaboration and interpretation, we develop both individual and collective power. We develop our individual power within the group by strengthening our ability to voice our own interpretations and question each other’s interpretations (with care of course). More importantly, we develop our power as a collective by sharing our ideas and coming up with a final product that is more than anything we could create by ourselves. In this way, we are able to use the power we have achieved through our essay collaborations to take the first steps across the threshold into a more collaborative community that works to address systemic issues.

A Singular Body

As a self-proclaimed “avid reader”, there is nothing I enjoy more than settling down with a cup of tea and a good story that has the ability to whisk me away from the troubles of the real world. When selecting the singular English class to weave into my education-heavy course load this semester, I was drawn to the Toni Morrison label. Simply just a name I’ve encountered in passing, I had absolutely no knowledge or experience with Morrison, especially paired with Dante Alighieri, whose works I only pretended to read during my Humanities course. For the first time in my Geneseo career I would be reading mostly fiction, and the naïve bookworm in me couldn’t be more excited. I say naïve because I was unprepared for the heaviness of Morrison’s words and the absolute masterful craftsmanship that she must be known for. While I stand at the threshold I must abandon any ideas I had about what this course might look like, and fully embrace the unfamiliar.

Every time I approach a new semester, I have one foot planted in the past and one foot hesitantly testing the waters before diving into the brisk and jarring cold water of what’s to come. I too am Dante lost in the dark wood seeking a guide to paradise. This semester feels different, as it is my last semester in the role of the student before I begin student teaching in the fall and take on a completely different role. This course was intentionally selected to serve as an escape from all my education courses as I hoped to find solace with like minded individuals from different career paths that share a passion for text-based discussions. So far, class discussions have completely caught my attention, making time irrelevant as comments and questions pinball around the classroom. The connections between Dante and Morrison have become increasingly clear and I can say comfortably that I’m beginning to understand how they both examine love as something with the potential to harm, and so much more. From what I’ve read so far, Beloved is such a unique and harrowing story of a brave mother facing the aftermath of the hardest decision of her life and while the connections to Dante are not apparent at first glance, with educated and scholarly discussions, the class as one singular body is able to begin unweaving the intertwined stories.

To get through this course together, the class as a whole must be willing to embark on a journey of honesty and understanding, recognizing everyone’s unique paths that have brought them here for this moment. While our destinations are all different, this class has been selected as a stop along the road, even though it might not be a straight and simple path, “‘But you must journey down another road,’ he answered, when he saw me lost in tears, ‘if ever you hope to leave this wilderness’” (Dante Canto 1). Dante, just like Sethe in Morrison’s Beloved, is on the less traveled path, encountering situations unknown to other people. Dante himself scales the body of Satan in search of paradise, and Sethe takes the life of her children into her own hands when she kills her Beloved to protect her from a life of enslavement. Each individually experiences their own personal hell and when they initially cross the threshold, nothing is the same.

Something I’ve been thinking about while reading Beloved in conjunction with Dante is the idea of each person’s individual description of hell. When our class comes together for a short period of time every week, I’m sure we all have different ideas of what hell might look like. Maybe it’s multiple exams and essays in one week, maybe it’s a long shift at work or walking all the way home in the snow. Maybe it’s something bigger like what Dante experiences when he witnesses, “These wretches, who had never truly lived, went naked, and were stung and stung again by the hornets and the wasps that circled them and made their faces run with blood in streaks; their blood, mixed with their tears” (Dante Canto III). While this image is intended to haunt the reader and leave them dreading the possibility of this eternal slumber, I personally find nothing more haunting than the personal hell described in Beloved. I have read many books where the protagonist is haunted by past mistakes and while there are parallels between these characters, the pain felt by Sethe in 124 is unlike nothing I’ve encountered before. Here in this house, which was supposed to be her fresh start, she is haunted by her past life and the presence of her missing children, “‘I got a tree on my back and a haint in my house, and nothing in between but the daughter I am holding in my arms. No more running—from nothing. I will never run from another thing on this earth. I took one journey and I paid for the ticket, but let me tell you something, Paul D Garner: it cost too much! Do you hear me? It cost too much. Now sit down and eat with us or leave us be”’ (Morrison, 18). While others in the book have tried to shame Sethe, saying what she did was wrong and that there was another way, nobody will ever be able to fully put themselves in Sethe’s shoes and understand the choices that she had to make were best for her children. We as a class have to strive to not assume to know someone else’s story and assume best intentions from everyone as we explore Morrison’s words.

Compared to other stories that I have read, none have forced me to be as attuned to hidden messages as I have been while reading Beloved in tandem with Dante’s Inferno. Something that was raised in class was the incorporation of the seven deadly sins into Morrison’s work. Specifically pride, as seen in both Inferno and Beloved. If I were reading this on my own, I would be reading for completion, not for comprehension or exploration of weaved messages. Sethe struggles with excessive amounts of pride, which to others like Paul D is viewed as misplaced. While I talk of assuming good intentions, I don’t see anything worth defending in Paul D, who exists in a cloud of self-righteousness talking like he knows better than Sethe, ‘“What you did was wrong, Sethe.’ ‘I should have gone on back there? Taken my babies back there?’ ‘There could have been a way. Some other way.’ ‘What way?’” (Morrison 194). If Dante or Virgil were reading this, they would comment on the idea that all things in excess, like pride or love are punishable offenses while Sethe defends her actions, as she has had to make decisions no mother should have to. This is in contrast to the beginning when Sethe appears standoffish about her actions, referring to her baby as an “it”, never by name. This shift, where Sethe is prideful and defensive of her actions, shows that Sethe might be moving on from this loss, feeling acceptance that the choice she made was the right one.

As we approach the end of this novel, I am wondering about where Morrison will leave Sethe, Denver, and Beloved. I believe that we as a class are rather in agreement that Beloved is the spirit of Sethe’s lost baby reincarnated. I feel concern for Sethe and her newly found family and wonder what will come of them as the novel concludes. I’m very familiar with the iconic “happily ever after” that leaves me satisfied at the end of my favorite books, but Sethe herself has presented me with the idea that this might not be the ending granted to her and her family, “For a used-to-be-slave woman to love anything that much was dangerous, especially if it was her children she had settled on to love” (Morrison 54). Sethe has unfortunately become well-versed in the temporary love that enslaved people had to deal with, as they never experienced feelings of true and genuine safety, even when tasting a semblance of freedom. Morrison is preparing her audience for an ending that I can’t feel confident speaking about, and as I pick up the novel to continue, I sip my tea and wait with bated breath, hoping that Sethe, Denver, and Beloved get the endings they deserve.