These Beloved quotes remind us that we are all human and that transformation and faith are part of the human experience.
An old adage says if you love something, let it go and trust that it will return. Toni Morrison’s Beloved forces us to question that adage.
The compelling novel uses flashbacks of the past to paint the picture of the haunting, macabre world of Sethe, a Black woman seeking freedom in the American south who must toe the line between instinctive motherhood compulsions to nurture and the individual self.
Beloved gives us a glimpse into the harsh reality of family life in the American slave system while having us consider moral dilemmas that manifest in the physical and non-physical world.
Polarizing characters like Sethe enable an empathic reader to reflect on their own belief systems.
What happens to us when our spirits are broken and we feel like Sethe, asking, “Would it be all right to go ahead and feel? Go ahead and count on something?”
Don’t forget to also check out these Toni Morrison quotes on writing, love, and life to inspire you today.
Beloved quotes with page numbers
1. “I am Beloved and she is mine.” (pg 210)
2. “Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” (pg. 95)
3. “Anything dead coming back to life hurts.” (pg. 35)
4. “Would it be all right? Would it be all right to go ahead and feel? Go ahead and count on something?” (pg. 38)
5. “Come on, you may as well just come on.” (pg. 74
6. “Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all” (pg. 164)
7. “No more running — from nothing. I will never run from another thing on this earth.” (pg 15)
8. “If it’s still there, waiting, that must mean that nothing ever dies.” (pg. 36)
9. “If a Negro got legs he ought to use them. Sit down too long, somebody will figure out a way to tie them up.” (pg. 10)
10. “Was it hard? I hope she didn’t die hard.” (pg. 7)
11. “Soft as cream. Being alive was the hard part. Sorry you missed her though. Is that what you came by for?” (pg. 7)
12. “You can’t do that, Baby. It ain’t right.” (pg. 124)
13. “I want you to touch me on the inside part and call me my name.” (pg. 116)
14. “You your best thing, Sethe. You are.” (pg. 273)
15. “A man ain’t nothing but a man. But a son? Well, now, that’s somebody.” (pg. 23)
Beloved novel quotes
16. “You got two feet, Sethe, not four.” (pg. 165)
17. “The best thing, he knew, was to love just a little bit; everything, just a little bit, so when they broke its back, or shoved it in a croaker sack, well, maybe you’d have a little love left over for the next one.” (pg. 45)
18. “Nobody stopped playing checkers just because the pieces included her children.” (pg. 23)
19. “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.” (pg 45)
20. “Because slave life had ‘busted her legs, back, head, eyes, hands, kidneys, womb and tongue,’ she had nothing left to make a living with but her heart-which she put to work at once.” (pg. 87)
21. “’Here,’ she said, ‘in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it.” (pg. 88)
22. “Paul D convinced me there was a world out there and that I could live in it. Should have known better. . . . Whatever is going on outside my door ain’t for me. The world is in this room. This here’s all there is and all there needs to be.” (pg. 183)
23. “She told them that the only grace they could have was the grace they could imagine. That if they could not see it, they would not have it.” (pg. 88)
24. “I see the dark face that is going to smile at me it is my dark face that is going to smile at me the iron circle is around our neck she does not have sharp earrings in her ears or a round basket she goes in the water with my face.” (pg. 212)
25. “They killed the flirt whom folks called Life for leading them on. Making them think the next sunrise would be worth it; that another stroke of time would do it at last.” (pg. 109)
26. “But her brain was not interested in the future. Loaded with the past and hungry for more, it left her no room to imagine, let alone plan for, the next day.” (pg. 70)
27. “That’s some of what I came for. The rest is you. But if all the truth be known, I go anywhere these days. Anywhere they let me sit down.” (pg. 7)
Famous quotes from Toni Morrison’s Beloved
28. “But now — even the daylight time that Beloved had counted on, disciplined herself to be content with, was being reduced, divided by Sethe’s willingness to pay attention to other things. Him mostly.” (pg. 100)
29. “‘Those white things have taken all I had or dreamed,’ she said, ‘and broke my heartstrings too. There is no bad luck in the world but whitefolks.” (pg. 89)
30. “The picture is still there and what’s more, if you go there — you who never was there — if you go there and stand in the place where it was, it will happen again; it will be there for you, waiting for you.” (pg. 36)
31. “To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay. The ‘better life’ she believed she and Denver were living was simply not that other one.” (pg. 42)
32. “My first-born. All I can remember of her is how she loved the burned bottom of bread. Can you beat that? Eight children and that’s all I remember.'” (pg. 5)
33. “You are my Beloved. You are mine. You are mine You are mine.” (pg. 207)
34. “Why was there nothing it refused? No misery, no regret, no hateful picture too rotten to accept? Like a greedy child it snatched up everything. Just once, could it say, No thank you? I just ate and can’t hold another bite?” (pg. 70)
35. “Everybody knew what she was called, but nobody anywhere knew her name. Disremembered and unaccounted for, she cannot be lost because no one is looking for her, and even if they were, how can they call her if they don’t know her name? Although she has claim, she is not claimed.” (pg. 274)
36. “She could bear the hours — nine or ten of them each day but one — when Sethe was gone. Bear even the nights when she was close but out of sight, behind walls and doors lying next to him.” (pg. 100
37. “Why was there nothing it refused? No misery, no regret, no hateful picture too rotten to accept? Like a greedy child it snatched up everything. Just once, could it say, No thank you? I just ate and can’t hold another bite?” (pg. 73)
38. “Anybody white could take your whole self for anything that came to mind. Not just work, kill, or maim you, but dirty you. Dirty you so bad you couldn’t like yourself anymore.” (pg. 251)
39. “Now she is crying because she has no self . . . She doesn’t move to open the door because there is no world out there. She decides to stay in the cold house and let the dark swallow her like the minnows of light above. She won’t put up with another leaving, another trick. Waking up to find one brother then another not at the bottom of the bed, his foot jabbing her spine.” (pg. 123)
40. “It’s so hard for me to believe in [time]. Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. . . . But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place-the picture of it-stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world”. (pg. 37)
Other Beloved quotes and lines
41. “All the time, I’m afraid the thing that happened that made it all right for my mother to kill my sister could happen again. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know who it is, but maybe there is something else terrible enough to make her do it again.” (pg. 205)
42. “And though she and others lived through and got over it, she could never let it happen to her own. The best things she was, was her children. Whites might dirty her all right, but not her best thing, her beautiful, magical best thing — the part of her that was clean.” (pg. 251)
43. “I am not dead I sit the sun closes my eyes when I open them I see the face I lost Sethe’s is the face that left me Sethe sees me see her and I see the smile her smiling face is the place for me it is the face I lost she is my face smiling at me doing it at last a hot thing now we can join.” (pg. 213)
44. “There’s more of us they drowned than there is all of them ever lived from the start of time. Lay down your sword. This ain’t a battle; it’s a rout” (pg. 244)
45. “Denver hated the stories her mother told that did not concern herself, which is why Amy was all she ever asked about. The rest was a gleaming, powerful world made more so by Denver’s absence from it. Not being in it, she hated it and wanted Beloved to hate it too, although there was no chance of that at all.” (pg. 62)
46. “I would have known right away who you was when the sun blotted out your face the way it did when I took you to the grape arbor. I would have known at once when my water broke. And when I did see your face it had more than a hint of what you would look like after all these years.” (pg. 203)
47. “All of it is now it is always now there will never be a time when I am not crouching and watching others who are crouching too I am always crouching” (pg. 210)
48. “She had been so close, then closer. And it was so much better than the anger that ruled when Sethe did or thought anything that excluded herself.” (pg. 100)
49. “124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom.” (pg. 3)
50. “The successful ones — the ones who had been there enough years to have maimed, mutilated, maybe even buried her — kept watch over the others who were still in her cock-teasing hug, caring and looking forward, remembering and looking back.” (pg. 109)
What did you learn from these Beloved quotes?
Sometimes we lose sight of our passion, no longer feeling safe enough to trust. It is important to remember that these experiences are also part of a transformation process that requires a leap of faith.
Not faith in a religious sense necessarily, but if you want it to be it can be. Sethe’s experience demonstrates that as we move forward in our transformation, many times we will feel lost. We may doubt that what we are doing even matters.
Our egos do not like discomfort, so they will tell us “Stop exploring all of this trauma that you do not want to feel because you are making it worse.”
Often people listen to that egoic voice, and they stop, and they never go through the process, never reaching their full potential. Like Sethe, we can feel tormented by energies from the physical and non-physical world.
However, her story teaches us that we have to begin to trust ourselves and trust in the energies that guide us if we are going to survive our own transformation.
What’s your biggest takeaway from these Beloved quotes and lines? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.
August 27, 2021 7:00 AM EST