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Naming in Beloved

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Mark Molvie

on 1 November 2013

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Transcript of Naming in Beloved

Naming in Beloved
Mark Molvie
Juliana Alfonso

- In "Beloved", Toni Morrison gives specific, significant names to the main characters according to their backgrounds, the effects of slavery on their lives, or their characteristics.
Characters - Cultural influences in naming
Works used: 1. Bloom, Harold. "Toni Morrison's Beloved." New York: Bloom's Literary Criticism, 2009. Print.
Relations to Plot
The names:
Defined relationships in the plot
Psychologically influenced the characters
Cultural Role of Names
According to Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations:
-"...the first thing freed slaves did was to...adopt...new names"(198)
Paul D, Stamp Paid, Sethe, Denver, Baby Suggs and Beloved
Stamp Paid-
" Born Joshua, he renamed himself when he handed over his wife to his master's son." (218)
"He decided he didn't owe anybody anything" (218)
Indebted to his wife
Word "Stamp" = slavery influence
Sethe- Sweet Home masculine name.
Was not treated like a woman (feminine/masculine didn't matter)
Named after her father, the only negro father of any of her mother's children
Name w/ disrespect reflects position in society.
Physically disliked using metaphor and similie by Paul D "the wrought-iron maze he had explored" (25), "like a gold miner pawing through pay dirt" (25)
Paul D- Sweet Home name before sold to Mr. Garner
"Identity theft" ---> all slaves named "Paul ___".
"Sub-human" to slave masters
Not named this without time at Sweet Home
"Is that where the manhood lay? In the naming done by a whiteman who was supposed to know?" (147)
Denver: -Named after Amy Denver
- Only named this because Amy helped with her delivery
- African Americans named after significant people/events in their life
- Sethe appreciated Amy (pg. 100, paragraph 4)

Baby Suggs: Named by her husband
Only character named by and for an African male
Called "Jenny" by whites (Mr. Garner)
Maintained memory of her husband/respected name
Respect/looked upon as a spiritual leader--->"holy"
Beloved- Word written on her tombstone after Sethe murdered her.
Called this when she came back to Sethe.
"Not her given name, but the one mama paid the stonecutter for" (246)
only referred to as Beloved and the"Already Crawling Girl"
Accepted as her own because she was (pg. 236, paragraph 1)
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