Amy Denver from Morrison's "Beloved" - Ghost or no?

If you’re unfamiliar with the novel and do not want anything revealed, I offer the following disclaimer:


My class is currently reading Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”.

Today we each brought in five questions we had about the novel and our class was broken into smaller groups to discuss these questions.

Though not one of the original questions, my group came around to talking about Amy Denver, the girl that helps Sethe deliver Denver during her escape from slavery, and it occured to us that there is significant textual evidence pointing to the fact that she may be a ghost.

One of the most obvious characteristics she exhibits is her fascination with velvet. Her whole focus in life is to make it to Boston and get herself some velvet. Our group found this single minded pursuit of a singular object to be comparable to Beloved’s single minded pursuit of Sethe’s attention.

There is also the following paragraph, which would seem to support this theory:

“Her name was Amy and she needed beef and pot liquor like nobody else in this world. Arms like cane stalks and enough hair for four or five heads. Slow-moving eyes. She didn’t look at anything quick. Talked so much it wasn’t clear how she could breathe at the same time. And those cane-stalk arms, as it turned out, were as strong as iron.”

Emphasis mine to illustrate what we felt were supportive of our theory.

Our teacher dismissed it pretty readily saying that Amy was a victim of abuse and having been locked away in the basement as she was, it was understandable for her to be… different. To want something considered a luxury, as velvet.

Any one have any thoughts on this? This may become a major part of my final paper this quarter and I’d be very interested to hear other takes on the situation.

I didn’t perceive it that way. To me, she was just a country bumpkin girl, slightly left of center, who was probably running away, just as Sethe was. Given the fact that the reader was not given a lot of history to really support this character, (or I don’t remember much anyways…) I saw her as a middle child in a dirt poor, uneducated family of about 12 children. Still a child herself, but old enough to have helped her mother or older sisters give birth, thereby having the knowledge to help Sethe give birth.

This would also seem to support my idea above. Near starvation, due to either poor living conditions or not being able to support herself after having run away. Some mild form of retardation or mental illness, genetically or environmentally acquired. If her family farmed, she would’ve had her share of work to do, giving her strength that might seem abnormal for a girl of her age. Though it was not uncommon to have large families only to obtain a cheaper labor force.

Good book, might have to go dig it out and read it again soon.

I should note that I read this book shortly after having read “Christy” by Catherine Marshall. I envisioned Amy Denver much like one of the children from the mountain families.

Correct or not? Just MHO… :slight_smile:

No, I don’t think so. When I read it a few months ago for school, I didn’t think of Amy as anything other than a redneck kid who loved “luxuries” like velvet. I did find it a bit odd that Amy was SO singleminded about the velvet, though, and I wondred if maybe this was something Sethe exaggerated, for what ever reason.

That’s how I originally perceived it as well SylverOne, but upon reflection it seems to fit Morrison’s ambiguous writing style perfectly.

I’ve learned through several group and class discussions not to take even the smallest image she presents for granted, as there is almost always something more behind it.

That’s what leads me to question Amy’s existence as a real person… it’s too obvious.