124 in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

“124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom.” The novel starts with this line. The beginning of the novel shows Sethe’s house, where she lives with her daughter Denver. Along with them lives baby ghost, as they call her. Morrison uses conventional tropes to establish that the house is haunted; mournful noises, frightened animals, objects falling off tables, and floors shaking. The other two parts of Beloved begin with references to the haunted house; “124 was loud.” (Part Two) and “124 was quiet.” (Part Three) The ghost of the dead child continues to trouble the house until the ending of Part Two, when the members of the community come forward to help Sethe come out of its clutches.

When Paul D first comes to 124, he drives away the baby ghost. But it reappears a few days later. The supernatural spirit returns in the form of Beloved. Her appearance at 124 is surrounded by mystery; it is as if she has come back from the dead, walking out fully clothed in a new dress and shoes. She seems to possess extraordinary powers; making Paul D follow her will. Beloved’s disappearance is as mystifying as her coming. The group of women who see her naked and pregnant outside 124, and are singing to rid the house of the evil presence, see her vanish magically. The whole novel is based on the premise that it is the dead infant daughter who has come back to demand her share of Sethe’s love and extract revenge. The community accepts this story, reflecting their belief in the existence of the supernatural.

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