Character Sketch of Baby Suggs in Beloved

Baby Suggs is Halle Suggs’ mother and Sethe’s mother-in-law. Baby Suggs travels to Cincinnati after her son bought freedom for her. Freedom transformed Baby Suggs; giving her a new understanding of what it meant to be alive. She evolves into a kind of holy woman for Cincinnati’s Black community; a source of emotional and spiritual inspiration for the former slaves in the city. After Sethe kills her baby, she is so shocked and disheartened that she withdraws and takes herself to a sickbed to die, remaining there for eight years. Tired of fighting she finally gives up; devoting her last days to the contemplation of colour.

Baby Suggs continues to be a source of inspiration even after her death. When Sethe feels broken after learning from Paul D that Halle went insane, it is to the Clearing that she goes to seek solace. In Part Three of the novel, the memory of Baby Suggs motivates Denver to go out and look for help. It is because of respect for Baby Suggs that the community responds to Denver’s requests for support.

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