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Chapter 5

The chapter begins with the startling image of a grown woman who is wearing a straw hat, new shoes, and a lace dress, and has walked out of the water and across a bridge. She has soft baby skin and her neck is hurt. After she walks off the bridge she continues walking down the road until she reaches the front door of 124 Bluestone Road. Paul D, Sethe and Denver are returning from the carnival and they notice the woman who is sitting on the front porch. Suddenly, Sethe's bladder calls for immediate attention. She runs to the outhouse where she "voids an endless quantity of water" that reminds her of when her water broke and she gave birth to Denver in a canoe on the banks of the Ohio River. Sethe is confused and when she returns to the porch, she finds that Paul D, Denver and the woman are already inside the house.
This stranger is extremely thirsty and she has already had four cups of water to drink. Sethe asks for her name and the woman replies that her name is Beloved. Sethe appreciates this because she remembers the daughter that she has lost - the word Beloved, being the solitary word on her headstone. The woman barely finished her four cups of water before she fell asleep at the table. Paul D, Denver and Sethe were astonished. After a conversation to sort out exactly what the woman's problem was, they surmised that she had cholera.
Four days later, this stranger had said little and Denver was the main one caring for her, doing much to guard her from Sethe and Paul D. The woman was like a baby: she was incontinent, often wetting the bed, and Denver hid this. The woman loved eating sugar and anything sugary and whenever Sethe or Paul D asked her questions about her past she could not remember anything except that she had walked down a bridge. Sethe concluded that this was because of the cholera's fever.
Paul D's initial suspicions are sustained and he tells Sethe that he saw this woman (who was supposed to be in bed, infirm with cholera and fever) pick up a heavy chair single-handedly. Of course, Sethe does not believe this is true and so Paul D tells her that Denver was also there and can verify that this happened. Rather than corroborate Paul D's story, Denver denies the truth when Sethe asks her, defending Beloved and further antagonizing Paul D.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points To Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8 and 9
Chapter 10 and 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14 and 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17 and 18
Chapter 19 and 20
Chapter 21 and 22
Chapter 23 and 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27 and 28


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