As I read Beloved, I kept expecting a romantic interest for Denver to be introduced. However, as I kept reading, I noticed there is a lack of romantic love throughout the book. Sethe and Paul D. get together, but even that relationship seems to blossom out of the need for an escape, the need to remember the past, not just love for each other. Even Halle and Sethe’s relationship is described as familial, not romantic. I think that Toni Morrison chose not to give Denver a romantic interest because it would take away her agency.
A romantic interest would have hindered Denver’s growth and made her arc shallow. If Denver had a romantic interest that swept her off her feet, that boy would have been the reason she separated from Beloved and Sethe. She would not have had to make the conscious decision to get help without knowing that she would have anyone to return to. Denver’s power comes from her actions. Without a boy, she is only influenced by her mind, not someone else.
2 thoughts on “Denver’s Agency”
I think it benefited Denver’s overall story that she did not have a love interest. I often feel that this trope is overused in young adult literature and find myself to be very bored of it. I think the fact that she didn’t give Denver a love interest to be what separates Toni Morrison’s work from that of other inexperienced authors. She knows when it is right to employ relationships like Sethe’s and Paul D’s and how to write them in a manner that adds to the development of the characters instead of taking away from it.
I really like this interpretation of the novel. Although I knew that something was off in terms of the relationships in Beloved, this post finally made me realize what was unusual. The lack of true love kind of connects back to the idea of community and how at such a traumatic time, support was the main thing that people desired. Additionally, I agree that giving Denver a romantic interest would have taken away from her character development. In the end, Beloved was Denver’s story and her strength in character was truly shown through self motivation.