The manner in which the past is brought out in Beloved.
Toni Morison's Beloved is a narrative-cum-description of a family's hardships and individual personal struggles during the mid-1800, a time when slavery was rampant in the United States of America. Beloved is the story of Sethe, a former slave, who has been living with her eighteen-year-old daughter Denver. Sethe's mother-in-law, baby Suggs, lived with them until her death eight years earlier. Just before Baby Suggs's death, Sethe's two sons, Howard and Buglar, ran away. Sethe believes they fled because of the malevolent presence of an abusive ghost that has haunted their house at 124 Bluestone Road for years. Denver, however, likes the ghost, which everyone believes to be the spirit of her dead sister. Beloved's narrative moves quickly between past and present, frequently shifting forward and back in time and through the memories of characters. This narrative technique suggests the powerful continuity between the past and the present; although Sethe might like to forget her past, its influence constantly intrudes into the present. The power of this past is embodied in the ghost of Sethe's baby. The dead child will not leave the family alone, and it's absence/presence is inscribed even into the number of the house: "124" draws attention to the missing "3," the third child, the dead daughter that now haunts their home. .
Toni Morrison uses inanimate objects effectively as a kind of time-travel device, meaning that the characters begin to reminisce when they see or talk about an object. An example of this would be Paul D's tobacco-tin heart'. As is typical of males, Paul D locks away his feelings and emotions related to the past, which only emerge after his supposed sexual encounter with Beloved. Also the red-heart' pool of light that he sees on entering the house reminds him of the slave camp that he was in. Sethe's bedding dress, that she sews to convince herself of the formality of her relationship with Halle, makes Paul D recount her first appearance at Sweet Home.