The title “Beloved” refers to the ghostly presence that haunts Sethe’s home, which is the spirit of her baby daughter whom she killed rather than allow her to be returned to slavery. The novel’s title carries multiple meanings and resonates with various themes and motifs explored in the book.\
Firstly, the title speaks to the deep love and connection that Sethe has with her children. She is willing to go to extreme lengths to protect them, even if it means killing them to spare them the horrors of slavery. The word “beloved” conveys the idea that Sethe’s children are precious to her and that her love for them is both powerful and all-consuming.
Secondly, the title can be read as an expression of the longing and desire for love and connection that many of the characters in the novel feel. For example, Sethe’s mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, preaches about the importance of love and community, and the need for former slaves to heal from the trauma of slavery. Paul D, another character in the novel, is also searching for love and a sense of belonging after his experiences as a slave.
Thirdly, the title can be interpreted as an allusion to the biblical Song of Solomon, a book that is referenced throughout the novel. The Song of Solomon is a love poem that celebrates the physical and emotional connection between two lovers. In the novel, the characters seek to reclaim their bodies and their relationships after the trauma of slavery has left them feeling disconnected and disassociated.
Fourthly, the title can be seen as a reference to the broader African American experience of slavery and oppression. The word “beloved” carries with it a sense of tenderness and affection, which contrasts with the brutal and dehumanizing treatment that slaves endured. The title speaks to the idea that despite the atrocities committed against African Americans, they are still capable of love and of being loved.
Overall, the title “Beloved” is a fitting and powerful choice for Morrison’s novel. It captures the themes of love, trauma, and community that are at the heart of the story, and it speaks to the enduring legacy of slavery and oppression in the United States. The novel’s title is a testament to the power of language to convey complex emotions and ideas and to the importance of storytelling in shaping our understanding of the world.