Quotes for Friday from Toni Morrison's Beloved

There are some beautiful quotes in Beloved. In fact the whole novel, baring its length, is quotable. Just open to any portion and you would encounter some fine reading. Enjoy the following:

124 was spiteful. Full of a baby's venom. (Page 3)

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. (Page 5)

If a Negro got legs he ought to use them. Sit down too long, somebody will figure out a way to tie them up. (Page 10)

To Sethe the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay (Page 41)

...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 last. Only when she was dead would they be safe. 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.  (Page 109)

Nowadays babies get up and walk soon's you drop em, but twenty years ago when I was a girl, babies stayed babies long. (Page 159)

He knew exactly what she meant: to get to a place where you could love anything you choose - not to need permission for desire - well now, that was freedom. (Page 162)

Very few people had died in bed, like Baby Suggs, and none that he knew of, including Baby, had lived a livable life. Even the educated colored: the long-school people, the doctors, the teachers, the paper-writers and businessmen had a hard row to hoe. In addition to having to use their heads to get ahead, they had the weight of the whole race sitting there. You needed two heads for that. Whitepeople believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin as a jungle. Swift unimaginable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood. (Page 198)

In a way they were right. The more coloredpeople spent their strength trying to convince them how gentle they were, how clever and loving, how human, the more they used themselves up to persuade whites of something Negroes believed could not be questioned, the deeper and more tangled the jungle inside grew. But it wasn't the jungle blacks brought with them to this place from the other (livable) place. It was the jungle whitefolks planted in them. And it grew. It spread. (Page 198)

Beloved, she my daughter. She mine. She come back to me of her own free will and I don't have to explain before because it had to be done quick. Quick. She had to be safe and I put her where she would be. But my love was tough and she back now. I knew she would. (Page 200)

I couldn't lay down with you then. No matter how much I wanted to. I couldn't lay down nowhere in peace, back then. Now I can. I can sleep like the drowned, have mercy. She come back to me, my daughter, she is mine. (Page (204)

Beloved is my sister. I swallowed her blood right along with my mother's milk. The first thing I heard after not hearing anything was the sound of her crawling up the stairs. (Page 205)

I am Beloved and she is mine. I see her take flowers away from leaves she puts them in a round basket and the leaves are not for her she fills the basket  she opens the grass I would help her but the clouds are in the way how can I say things that are pictures I am not separate from her there is no place where her face is and to be looking at it too a hot thing. (Page 210)

Remembering his own price, down to the cent, that schoolteacher was able to get for him, he wondered what Sethe's would have been. What had Baby Suggs's been? How much did Halle owe, still, besides his labor? What did Mrs Garner got for Paul F? More than nine hundred dollars? How much? Ten dollars? Twenty? School teacher would know.

You your best thing, Sethe. You are. (Page 273)

By and by all trace is gone, and what is forgotten is not only the footprints but the water too and what it is down there. The rest is weather.  (Page 275)

Read the review here.


  1. Morison's prose is unfathomably superb. I agree with you that you can quote from every corner of the book. Thanks for this.


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