EXT. 124 BLUESTONE ROAD – DAWN.
It is winter in Ohio. A house sits isolated beside a barren
field. The field stretches beyond, until a line of distant
woods stops it. Around the back of the house stands a rundown
STORAGE SHED, a cold house, a privy and a water pump. A porch
with a single door serves as the only entrance.
Camera begins a slow move toward the house as we;
SUPER – OHIO, 1865
WE HEAR SOUNDS from inside the house – BUMPS, A CHAIR FALLING
OVER…and FEET RUNNING on wooden floor boards.
INT. 124 BLUESTONE ROAD – DAWN.
C.U. – THE HANDS OF TWO BROTHERS HOLDING EACH OTHER AS THEY
RUN DOWN THE STAIRS..
BULGAR (13 yrs. old) and HOWARD (14 yrs. old) run down the
steps from the second floor. They are fully dressed, carrying
a small bag of belongings.
We gonna need food. Wait here.
Bulgar reluctantly lets go of Howard’s hand as the latter
runs into the kitchen. Alone, he edges towards the front
door, when suddenly;
THE DOOR SLOWLY CREAKS OPEN on it’s own. Scared, he steps
INT. KITCHEN – DAWN.
Howard is trying to toss some food into a bag. He spots A
CAKE sitting on top the wooden table, with some pieces
already eaten. He finds a knife and approaches the table.
He is about to cut into the cake when he sees TWO TINY HAND
PRINTS appear on the cake’s surface. Howard stops cold –
dropping the knife.
INT. FRONT ENTRANCE – DAWN.
Howard exits the kitchen and takes Bulgar’s hand;
The boys look up the stairs and see their baby sister, nine
year old DENVER.
Where you goin?
The brothers are brokenhearted at the sight of her. They love
their sister. But there are stronger forces here.
A MIRROR on a wall beside Howard cracks down the middle.
We gotta go!
Bulgar looks up to Denver. They exchange a look of deep
affection and pained longing. He wants to take her.
Bye, Denver. You take care.
Bulgar is starting to cry. He rushes up the steps and hugs
his sister. He kisses her hard then breaks away. Denver’s
outstretched hand misses his shirt and hangs mid-air.
Bulgar flies down the steps and disappears out of the house
holding Howard’s hand once more.
Denver sits alone at the top of the stairs. She sadly looks
up and weeps, as if to the house itself:
Now what you go and do that for?
EXT. ROAD TO THE TRAIN – DAWN.
THE VOICE OF SETHE HUMMING A MELODY carries over the images
The two boys running for their lives towards the train,
holding hands all the way. Howard is the first to reach it.
As it passes by, he throws his bag upon it and jumps in.
Bulgar races beside it as Howard reaches for him.
C.U. – HOWARD’S HAND reaching for BULGAR’s…They connect.
WIDE SHOT – The boys are on the train as it leaves town.
On it’s route, the train passes a ramshackle GRAVEYARD.
CAMERA MOVES SLOWLY INTO THE GRAVEYARD until it reaches A
HEADSTONE, made with flecked pink stone. Upon the headstone
is only one word:
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – CONTINUOUS.
Camera moves slowly towards the side exterior of 124, into a
Close-Up of a WOMAN looking out of a second floor bedroom
window. It is SETHE, mother of the two boys and Denver. She
hums her melody, softly, sadly, with a resigned understanding
of why her boys are running away…and a deep pain that is
too constant to notice.
INT. 124 – BABY SUGGS BEDROOM – LATER THAT DAY.
BABY SUGGS, grandmother and mother-in-law to Sethe, sits in
her bed fondling colored fabric of BRIGHT GREEN..It is the
only vibrant color in an otherwise drab surrounding. Suggs is
bed-ridden, exhausted to her bones – her face a mosaic of
suffering and sacrifice and tested faith.
Ya know what I’d love to see? I loved to
see me some lavender. You got any
lavender? Or even pink – pink’ll do.
Sethe is placing folded laundry into a dresser. She stops and
checks her pockets for rags or swatches…She looks around
Ah, winter in Ohio is especially rough if
you’ve got an appetite for color.
Suggs goes back to contemplating her green until;
Suggs looks up to see Sethe sticking her pink tongue out at
her. Suggs smiles.
Oh, that’s fine. Fine.
Sethe lets out a small laugh. She walks toward the window,
stretching her body. Her expression changes as she thinks of
her boys. Baby Suggs reads her like a book.
They’ll be all right. I’m surprised they
lasted here this long.
I don’t know. Maybe we should have moved.
What’d be the point? Not a house in the
country ain’t packed to the rafters with
some dead Negro’s grief. We lucky our
ghost is a baby. My husband spirit come
back? Or yours? Don’t talk to me! Ha..You
lucky. You got one child left, still
pullin at your skirts. Be thankful. I had
eight. Eight with six fathers. Every one
of them gone from me. Four taken, four
chased and all, I expect, worrying
somebody’s house into evil. My first born
– alls I can remember of her now is how
she loved the burned bottom of bread. Her
little hands..I wouldn’t know’em if they
slapped me. Can you beat that? Eight
children and that’s all I remember.
(returning to her work)
You remember Halle.
Oh, I remember bits and pieces of all
of’em I guess..Halle, of course..I had
Halle a lifetime. Almost twenty years…
My two girls, sold and gone before I
could even a heard about it, and them
without their grown up teeth yet. My
third child, my son after Halle…I let
that straw boss have me for four months
so’s I could keep that boy. Next year, he
had him traded for lumber anyway and me
pregnant with his child. I couldn’t love
that child. I wouldn’t. Not any of the
rest either. God take what He
would….and He did…
The boys wouldn’t have left if Halle were
Those boys didn’t even know him. You had
six whole years of marriage to my Halle
Fathered every one of your children. A
blessing. I learned hard that a man’s
just a man, but a son like that…like
Halle..now that’s somebody.
Sethe’s mixed feelings show all over her face. Although she
loved Halle, there is clearly something unresolved in her.
Just got a few more things to do, then
I’ll start supper.
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – LATE DAY.
Denver is playing in the front yard by herself.
Sethe is pumping water into a bucket for clothes washing. A
gentle breeze carries a LEAF into the bucket. Sethe sees it
floating atop the water for a moment, then picks it up.
C.U. of SETHE as the image triggers a feeling – and the
feeling a memory – from long ago.
Sethe looks around her and finds she is no longer standing in
the barren field of 124…but rather-
EXT. SWEET HOME – LATE DAY.
A stunning vista of the plantation SWEET HOME – sun beating
down on groves and rows of gorgeous sycamores for as far as
the eye can see. Sethe’s figure dwarfed by the majestic
Sethe looks frightened. Her breathing grows shallow. She
THE SOUND OF A WAGON’S WHEELS – rolling over a road, growing
louder, coming towards her
C.U. OF A WAGON WHEEL MOVING RAPIDLY ON A ROAD. CAMERA PANS
UP TO THE MAN DRIVING THE WAGON – A STERN WHITE MAN WEARING A
SETHE TURNS away from the sycamores towards the road to see;
END OF MEMORY;
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE – LATE DAY.
A MAN driving a horse and wagon with two children in the
back, coming up Bluestone Road. He wears no hat.
Sethe breathes easily. She looks around her -the reality of
124’s barren field has returned. The memory of Sweet Home’s
sycamores have vanished.
Denver is playing near the road. As the wagon nears 124,
Denver looks up and smiles. The Man whips the horse hard so
as to ride past the house faster. The children stare at
Denver and 124, with horror and curiosity.
The stares of the children destroy Denver’s smile. She
watches them go, then turns to hide her upset and sees her
mother watching her.
Sethe looks to Denver with empathy and impotence: wanting to
ease her daughter’s pain and knowing full well she cannot.
Hurt and angry, Denver runs past Sethe, towards the woods.
EXT. WOODS – LATE DAY.
Denver runs with a purpose, knowing exactly where she is
She reaches FIVE BOXWOOD BUSHES planted in a ring. The tall
bushes stretch toward each other four feet off the ground,
forming a round, emerald room in the center, seven feet high,
with walls fifty inches thick of murmuring leaves.
This is Denver’s private place. She bends low and crawls
through the leaves into the center. Once there, this lonely
child wipes away her tears and tries to pull herself
together. She lays her face against the cool earth.
INT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – NIGHT.
Denver walks to her room in her night dress. She passes the
opened door of her mother’s bedroom and peeks in:
INT. SETHE’S BEDROOM – NIGHT.
Sethe kneeling by her bed, as if praying…
Beside Sethe, A WHITE DRESS KNEELS as well, with it’s sleeve
around Sethe’s waist. Like two friendly grown-up women,
comforting each other in prayer.
Denver tip toes away.
INT. DENVER’S ROOM – NIGHT.
Sethe enters to check on Denver, whom she thinks is asleep.
She leans over and kisses her forehead, only to discover she
What is it baby?
You think maybe when daddy comes, he
could talk to the baby ghost. Maybe make
her behave and then people won’t be
scared of here no more.
I don’t know.
Why won’t she ever settle?
She’s mad like a baby gets mad. You
forgetting how little it is. She wasn’t
even two years old when she died. Too
little to understand.
For a baby she throws a powerful spell.
No more powerful than the way I loved her.
Hearing her mother say this, moves Denver.
What do you pray for Mama?
Oh, I don’t really pray anymore. I just
Oh, about time. How some things go. Pass
on. Some things just stay.
Like, the place I was at before here –
Sweet Home. Even if that whole farm and
every tree and blade of grass on it died –
it’ll still be there. Waiting. And if you
go and stand in the place where it was,
what happened there once, will happen
If it’s still there, waiting, that mean
nothing ever dies?
Nothing ever does. That’s why I had to
get my children out. No matter what.
That’s why you can never go there.
You never tell me all what happened. Just
that they whipped you and you run off
pregnant with me.
You don’t need to know nothing else.
I saw a white dress kneeling next to you
when you was praying.
White? Maybe it was my bedding dress.
Describe it to me.
Had a high neck. Whole mess of buttons
coming down the back.
Buttons. Well, that’s not my bedding
dress. I never had a button on nothing.
A bunch at the back. On the sit down
I don’t know what it’s called.
You say it was holding on to me. How?
Kneeling next to you while you were
praying. I mean, talking. It looked just
Well, I’ll be.
I think it was a sign. I think maybe
baby’s got plans.
I don’t know, but that dress holding onto
you got to mean something.
Maybe. Maybe it does.
Sethe smiles sympathetically for her lonely child. They hear
a sound in the house – floor boards creaking.
She’s crawling again.
Sethe nods and holds her daughter’s hand as they listen.
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE ROAD – DAY.
C.U. – PAUL D. GARNER.
Paul stands on the road, gazing up at the house. Grateful
he’s arrived, cautious about what he’ll find, he steps
towards the porch. His clothes are ragged. His feet sore and
blistering in his shoes.
EXT. THE PUMP – DAY.
Off to the side of the house, Sethe washes her feet and legs
at the pump. She looks up and sees Paul’s figure walking
towards the house. The sun blazes in her eyes. She can’t make
out who it is, or whether or not he’s even real. As he
reaches the porch, Paul disappears from view.
Sethe walks towards the front of the house. When she is
little more than forty feet away, she stops – still not
certain Paul is a real man or an hallucination of the past.
Paul? Paul D.? Is that you?
How you been girl, besides barefoot?
Sethe jams her balled up stockings into her pocket. She
smiles like a little girl, not able to believe her eyes.
You looking good.
Devil’s confusion. He lets me look good
long as I feel bad.
How long has it been?
‘Bout eighteen years, I figure.
And I swear I been walking every one of
them. Mind if I join you?
He begins taking off his shoes.
You want to soak them? Let me get you
No, uh, uh. Can’t baby feet. A whole more
tramping they got to do yet.
You’re not leaving right away, are you?
You stay awhile.
Well, long enough to see Baby Suggs,
you..Where is she?
Aw no. When?
Eight years now. Almost nine.
Was it hard? I hope she didn’t die hard.
Soft as cream. Being alive was the hard
part. Sorry you missed her though. Is
that what you came by for?
That’s some of what I came for. The rest
Sethe doesn’t know what to do with her eyes when he says
this..she looks away instinctively. Paul realizes that may
have sounded too intimate so he leans back and sighs:
The truth be known, I go anywhere these
days. Anywhere they let me sit down.
Come on inside.
Porch is fine. Cool out here. Sit with
Like a nervous little girl, Sethe takes a sit beside a man
for the first time in years, folding her sweat stained skirt
So Baby Suggs is gone. Somehow never
thought death would find her.
It finds everyone.
We managed well enough without meeting
Awkward pause. Sethe tries to find the words to a difficult
question – but one that is foremost in her mind;
I wouldn’t have to ask about him, would
I?…You’d tell me if there was anything
to tell, wouldn’t you?
Paul knows instantly she is asking about Halle.
You know I would. But I don’t know any
more about what happened to Halle now
than I did then.
Something about Paul’s expression might suggest he’s keeping
something from her. He turns his gaze outward as he says;
You must think he’s still alive.
No. I think he’s dead. It’s just not
being sure that keeps him alive.
What did Baby Suggs think?
Same. Ha, listen to her, all her children
dead and she felt each one go the very
day and hour it happened.
When she say Halle went?
1855. Same day my baby was born.
You had that baby, did you? Damn, never
thought you’d make it. Running off
Had to. Couldn’t be no waiting.
All by yourself too.
Almost. A white girl helped me.
Then she helped herself, God bless her.
We got spare rooms. You could stay the
night, if you had a mind to.
You don’t sound too steady in the offer.
Oh it’s..it’s truly meant. I just hope
you’ll pardon my house.
Paul smiles a warm, touched smile that after all that they’ve
survived, Sethe is worried about what he’ll think of her
My house. I like the sound of that.
Sethe smiles, then rises to escort him in.
INT. 124 BLUESTONE ROAD – DAY.
Sethe opens the front door and enters, with Paul behind her,
hanging his shoes by the laces over his shoulder. As he
follows her in;
A POOL OF RED, UNDULATING LIGHT forms around him. It worries
You got company?
On and off.
The light undulates faster and faster, extending all the way
to the kitchen at the end of the hall. Frightened, Paul steps
back out the door.
Good God! What kind of evil you got in
It’s not evil..It’s just..just sad. Come
on. Just step through.
Sethe reaches out her hand. Paul tentatively takes it and is
lead through the red light of the hallway, through to the
kitchen where it ends.
As he walks through, we can see Paul affected by the light.
It is sad. A sadness that touches him, welling up inside
until tears are brimming in his eyes. He reaches the normal
light of the kitchen and steps out of it.
INT. KITCHEN – DAY.
Paul turns back to find the red light in the hall is gone.
I thought you said she died soft as cream.
(busying herself in kitchen)
Oh that’s not Baby Suggs. That’s my
daughter. The one I sent ahead with the
boys before I run off.
She didn’t live?
The boys too?
No, they alive – they run off before Baby
Suggs died. The one I was carrying when I
left Sweet Home is all I got left.
Still affected by the light, Paul eases himself down at the
table, finding something to say.
Well, probably best..If a Negro boy got
legs he ought to use them. Sit down too
long, somebody figure out a way to tie
(the image disturbs Sethe)
You by yourself then?
Me and Denver… my daughter.
(Sethe shakes head “no”)
And that’s all right by you?
It’s all right by me…I cook at a
restaurant in town. Sew a little on the
She places a bottle and a glass on the table before him. The
light jarred him. He snatches the bottle to drink and calm
himself down. She jokes.
You look more done in by a walk through
my front hall than all those eighteen
years of walking put together.
Got that right.
INT. SECOND FLOOR OF 124 – MORNING.
Denver, all of eighteen years old now, and beautiful, is
buttoning up her dress when she hears the voice of a man down
in the kitchen. She stops. Her face lights up.
She runs down the white staircase.
INT. KITCHEN – MORNING.
As Denver runs into the kitchen, we hear:
Won’t you stay a little while? Can’t
nobody catch up on eighteen years in a
Denver appears expectantly, down the white staircase that
leads from the second floor. She looks at Paul wide eyed.
They turn to her with gentle smiles;
Baby, this here’s Paul D. Garner…Paul,
this is my Denver…Paul’s the last of
the Sweet Home men.
Denver’s heart sinks.
Good morning Miss Denver. It’s a
Good morning, Mr. D.
Garner, baby. Paul D. Garner.
Glad to get a look at you. Last time I
saw your mama, you were pushing out the
front of her dress. She’s a fine looking
young lady, Sethe. Fine looking. Got her
daddy’s sweet face.
You knew my father?
Knew him. Knew him well.
Of course he did. I told you, he’s from
Sweet Home. Paul may stay with us a
while. Won’t that be nice, having an old
friend stay a spell?
But Denver reacts with surprise and dismay. Paul is not her
friend. Paul, right now, is more of an intruder.
If that’s all right with you, that is?
We have a ghost here, you know.
We met. But sad, your mama said. Not
No sir, not evil. But not sad either.
I don’t see how it could be lonely
spending every minute with us like it
It’s my sister. She was just a baby when
she died in this house.
Reminds me of that headless bride back
behind Sweet Home. Remember that Sethe?
Used to roam them woods regular.
Mama doesn’t like talk about Sweet Home.
Says it was never sweet and it sure
Girl, mind yourself!
Now, now, she got it right there, Sethe.
But it’s where we were. All together.
It’s where I met your father. And it
comes back on us whether we want it to or
Then why don’t you ever tell me about it?
Sethe pauses – unnerved and irritated by Denver’s challenge.
Denver, start up the stove. Paul must be
Don’t go to no trouble on my account.
Bread’s no trouble. The rest I brought
back from where I work. Least I can do,
cooking dawn to noon, is bring dinner
home. You got any objections to pike?
If he don’t object to me I don’t object
He addresses his humor to Denver who offers no response. She
crosses to the stove and works on lighting it. She’s mad.
Where’s he going to sleep? Baby Sugg’s
room got no sheets or nothing.
We’ll figure it out.
Maybe you should stay with mama, Mr.
Garner. Then you two can talk about Sweet
Home all night long.
What’s the matter with you! I never knew
you to behave like this!
Leave her be, Sethe. I’m a stranger to her.
That’s just it. She got no cause to act
up with a stranger.
Denver collapses where she stands, sobbing out loud. Sethe
moves to her.
Baby, what is it? Did something happen?
Denver moves away. Sethe registers this rejection.
I can’t no more! I can’t no more!
Can’t what? What can’t you?
I can’t live here! I don’t know where to
go or what to do but I can’t live here.
Nobody speaks to us. Nobody comes by.
Nobody even knows I’m alive.
What she talking about ‘nobody speaks to
It’s the house. People don’t…
It’s not! It’s not the house! It’s us!
Leave off, Sethe. It’s hard for a young
girl living in a haunted place. That
can’t be easy.
It’s easier than some other things. Come
Denver allows herself to be held.
I’m a grown man with nothing new left to
see or do and I’m telling you it’ ain’t
easy. Maybe you oughta move.
No. No moving. No leaving. It’s all right
the way it is.
You going to tell me it’s all right with
this child half out of her mind.
(holding Denver in her arms)
I got a tree on my back and a haunt in my
house and nothing in between but the
daughter I’m holding in my arms. No more
running – from nothing! I will never run
from another thing on this earth, you
hear! I took one journey and I paid the
ticket but let me tell you something,
Paul D. Garner; it cost too much! Do you
hear me?! It cost too much! Now sit down
and eat with us or leave us be!
Sethe’s sudden outburst startles Paul. He watches as Sethe
ushers Denver out to the keeping room off the kitchen to
quiet her down.
Alone, Paul is disturbed by Sethe’s words. He fishes out a
pouch of tobacco and concentrates on it, searching for
smoking papers he knows he doesn’t have…waiting for Sethe
When she does, she heads straight for the stove. She spits on
her finger and touches it to check it’s heat. She then begins
to make bread from flour, soda and salt – keeping her back to
Paul throughout – as the scene continues;
What tree, Sethe?
What tree on your back? I don’t see
nothing growing on your back.
It’s there all the same.
Who told you that?
White girl. That’s what she called it. I
never seen it and never will. But she
said that’s what it looked like. A
chokecherry tree. Leaves, branches. That
was 18 years ago. Could have cherries by
now for all I know…
I don’t follow.
Sethe pauses. Something in her decides to tell Paul D,
although she keeps working on the bread to stay in control;
I had milk, see. I was pregnant with
Denver but I had milk for my baby girl
that I sent ahead with the boys. I hadn’t
stopped nursing her when I sent her and
the boys ahead of me. Anybody could smell
me long before they saw me. Nothing I
could do about it. All I knew is I had to
get my milk to my little girl. Nobody was
going to nurse her like me. Nobody was
going to get it to her fast enough or
take it away when she had enough..nobody
knew she couldn’t pass her air if you
held her up on your shoulder, only if she
was lying on your knee..Nobody knew that
Paul listens, half dreading where he thinks this story’s going.
We was talking about a tree, Sethe.
Sethe works faster. It is the work, taking an action – any
action – that allows her tell the story numbly, without the
pain of reliving it…without the images attacking
Schoolteacher’s boys drag me into the
barn and took my milk…
….yet, the images come anyway.
INTERCUT: FLASHES OF MEMORY attack as SETHE TELLS HER
JUMP CUT TO:
INT. BARN – A NIGHT REMEMBERED.
– Sethe being raped, beaten, held down by SCHOOLTEACHER’S
BOYS in a barn with a loft…
SETHE (IN KITCHEN)
..Held me down in that barn and took it.
JUMP CUT TO:
Sethe screams and is smacked across the face.
SETHE (IN KITCHEN)
They were like boulders on me. Their
hands over my mouth and on my shoulders
and my legs.
JUMP CUT TO:
One of the boys holds her face and mouth and head as the two
others hold down her body and ravage her….
SETHE (IN KITCHEN)
I couldn’t move. Alls I could see was the
loft above their heads.
JUMP CUT TO:
Her mouth covered, her head immobile – she stares up at the
END OF MEMORY IMAGES.
INT. KITCHEN – PRESENT DAY.
Sethe squeezes her eyes to erase the image and works harder
on the biscuit dough…The flashes of IMAGES STOP…
I told Mrs. Garner on them. She had that
lump on her neck and couldn’t speak but
her eyes rolled out tears, I remember.
Them boys found out I told on ‘em and
Schoolteacher made one open up my back,
and when it closed it made a tree.
They used cowhide on you?
And they took my milk.
They beat you and you was pregnant?
And they took my milk!
Sethe has separated the dough into biscuits which she slips
into the stove. As she rises, Paul steps gently behind her.
He slowly caresses her breasts from behind, pressing his
cheek against her back.. He rubs his cheek against it,
feeling the scars beneath the dress. Raising his fingers to
the hooks, as Sethe cries silently, he undoes her dress which
slips down to her hips, exposing the sculpture her back has
Aw Lord, girl.
Grateful to have her body be someone else’s responsibility
for the moment, Sethe closes her eyes as Paul touches every
ridge and leaf of her tree with his mouth. The tenderness is
Suddenly, PAUL’S LEGS BEGIN TREMBLING. He pauses and looks
down…He realizes it is not his legs that tremble, but
THE FLOORBOARDS THEMSELVES ARE PITCHING, GRINDING, SHOVING
the house from side to side.
Sethe slides to the floor, struggling with her dress.
On all fours, Denver crawls in from the keeping room as if
trying to keep the house together.
Paul, falling, reaching for an anchor, begins to shout;
GOD DAMN IT! HUSH UP! Leave this place
alone! Get the hell outta here!
A table rushes at him but Paul grabs it’s leg. Managing to
stand at an angle as the house continues to pitch, he holds
the table by two legs and bashes it about, wrecking
everything, screaming at the house;
YOU WANT TO FIGHT, COME ON! GOD DAMN IT!
SHE GOT ENOUGH WITHOUT YOU! SHE GOT ENOUGH!
The quaking slows to an occasional lurch but Paul does not
stop whipping the table around until everything it is
absolutely still. He leans against the wall, panting.
Sethe is crouched by the stove. A mixed expression of relief
and guilt – the expression of a mother whose disobedient
child has been sent away. But a child she loves nonetheless.
Denver looks frightened. More alone than ever, now that her
one companion is gone.
All three are breathing together as if to the same beat, like
one tired person.
INT. KITCHEN – LATER THAT DAY..
Denver walks through the broken furniture and dishes. At the
stove, she ashes over the fire and pulls the pan of biscuits
from the oven,
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – CONTINUOUS.
A shirtless Paul D. is by the water pump washing himself.
INT. KITCHEN – CONTINUOUS.
Denver lifts the fallen jelly cupboard, it’s contents laying
in a heap in the corner of the bottom shelf. She takes out a
jar. She looks for a plate and finds half of one by the
broken table. She picks it up as she hears Paul enter through
the front door.
INT. BABY SUGGS BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS.
Sethe prepares a bed for Paul. Baby Suggs quilt is on the
bed. She hesitates whether or not to leave it there.
Paul stands by the door with his shoes in his bands, his
shirt hanging open down the front.
Sethe is surprised to see him there – she feels awkward.
Why don’t you…take a rest..I’ll call
you when we’re ready.
Sure you don’t want me to help clean up?
No..you’d just get in my way. Denver and
me’ll do it.
They stand in silence, looking at each other for a moment.
The awkwardness they both feel strike them suddenly as funny.
Paul starts smiling. Sethe covers her mouth to conceal it.
And then, just as quickly, the urge to laugh subsides – and
the fear they feel takes it’s place.
Paul slowly closes the door and places his shoes on the
floor. Sethe watches him. Paul crosses to her. He moves in to
kiss her. They approach each other’s lips like two burn
victims, trying desperately not to hurt the other with their
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – CONTINUOUS.
Denver sits on the porch steps, alone once again. Miserably
eating the biscuit and jelly off of a half broken plate.
INT. BABY SUGGS BEDROOM – MINUTES LATER.
Sethe and Paul lay in bed, after lovemaking. They are still
fully clothed. The lovemaking was fast and finished quickly.
Now, there is an awkwardness that is without humor or
excitement – but sits like a chasm between them.
As Sethe lays there, SHE REMEMBERS:
EXT. THE CORN FIELDS OF SWEET HOME – A DAY REMEMBERED.
A brilliant bright yellow and green corn stalks in a tiny
Sethe and a slightly older HALLE – handsome, strong – run
through the field until Halle stops them at an isolated spot.
Here?! out in the open?!
Look around – can you see anybody?
Sethe looks and can see nothing through the corn stalks. She
shakes her head no.
Then nothing can see us neither.
He takes off his shirt. Seethe giggles as she gets on the
ground, keeping her ankles crossed.
Halle lays her back and gently separates her legs. She
giggles. Halle pauses before laying on top of her.
You are a beautiful sight.
Don’t talk stupid.
You’re my wife now! I can talk as stupid
as I like about you!
I ain’t never loved nothing like you
(Sethe is moved)
And after I get mama out…then I get us
out too. And you’ll see, baby girl…
we’re gonna have us a liiife..
He sings the word “life”, so that Sethe laughs. Then, Halle
lowers himself slowly to her and they begin to make love. As
camera pans up to a HILL above the field, we hear Sethe ask;
You sure nobody can see?
We hear Halle grunt “uh-huh” as we arrive on the hill where a
GREAT TREE sits.
EXT. GREAT TREE ON THE HILL – DAY.
Beneath the tree, PAUL D, SIXO and Paul’s brothers Paul A.
and Paul P. are pouring water over heads and watching;
POV; Unbeknownst to Halle and Sethe, their lovemaking is in
clear view to anyone on the hill…
Damn. I don’t get why she picked him.
Halle’s got that way about him. That way
a woman feels he’s doing it all for her,
not for himself at all.
I can’t see nothing so special about Halle.
What about what he’s doing for his mama?
Fool thing, if you ask me. By the time he
buys it, freedom won’t mean a thing to
somebody that old and worn.
Freedom mean something anytime it come.
The men watch the corn stalks swaying to the lovemaking.
A YOUNG PAUL D., in particular, watches with tender yearning.
INT. KITCHEN AT SWEET HOME – EARLY EVENING.
MR. GARNER, the man who owns and runs Sweet Home. He offers
cooked corn to the men.
Raccoon must’ve got into my corn. Damaged
a few so, no use throwing them out…
The men looks to each other, suppressing a laugh.
Sethe, get the butter there.
Everyone looks at each other as they thank No. Garner and
begin to smear butter on their corn and eat.
A NEIGHBORING FARMER visiting the Garner’s cautions him;
You spoil these nigger boys.
Maybe you got boys on your farm. My
nigger’s are men. Not a boy among’em.
Bought ‘em thataway, raised’em thataway.
Beg to differ Garner. Ain’t no nigger men.
Not if you scared. But if you a man
yourself, you’ll want your niggers to be
Wouldn’t have no nigger men around my
Neither would I..Neither would I.
Sethe hides a smile as she hands a piece of corn to Halle.
Paul A and Paul F hesitate as they think of eating the corn
which the lovers consummated. But Sixo digs right in.
Paul D eats slowly, his eyes never leaving Sethe as she moves
Around the kitchen, her eyes never leaving Halle…Paul’s
Attraction and love for her are apparent.
END OF MEMORY;
INT. SETHE’S BEDROOM – EARLY EVENING.
C.U. on PAUL, on his back, turned away from Sethe.
What began as Sethe’s memory, has blended into Paul’s.
Sethe rises off the bed, breaking the thick silence between them:
I’ll call you when there’s something to
She exits, leaving Paul alone on the bed.
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – THE FOLLOWING DAY.
We see the house now. No creaking or sounds of breaking
furniture. Just the sound of Paul D. singing.
INT. KITCHEN – DAY.
Paul is singing as he fixes the table he broke while driving
the baby ghost away.
Denver is sweeping the floor – irritated by Paul’s presence
They both hear the front door open as Sethe arrives home from
They look to each other to see which one will make a move for
Sethe first. Paul knows enough to bide his time with Denver.
He watches as she places the broom down and exits the
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – NIGHT.
Paul and Sethe sit on the porch together. Sethe is sewing.
Paul nervously gets up his nerve to ask:
(she stops and looks)
I was thinking of looking for work around
here. What do you think?
Ain’t much. River mostly. And hogs.
Hogs is fine.
Paul moves to where Sethe is sitting.
I don’t need much, Sethe. Eat, sleep,
sing a little when it strikes me. I don’t
ask for more to..to live somewhere.
Sethe realizes what he is asking and tentatively responds:
All right. It’s…it’s fine with me.
Your girl Denver. Seems she’s of a
Don’t worry about her. She’s a charmed
child. Nothing ever touch her too bad.
From the beginning. Everybody I knew dead
or gone, but not her.
You got to know something, though – this
here ain’t no better life. It’s just not
that other one. What I do here – all I
ever do – is keep Denver from that
other..So if you stay, there’s no more
talk about Sweet Home or anything else. I
won’t let the past in my yard again.
Getting me and Denver through this here
life is all that matters. You understand?
Dangerous to love anything that much,
Sethe. Best thing is to love everything
just a little bit..that way, when it
breaks or runs off or gets taken, well
maybe you’d have a little love left over
for the next one.
Don’t be asking me to choose, Paul D.
There ain’t no choice here.
That’s the whole point. I’m not asking
you to choose. Just want to know if
there’s some space for me. Want to know
if it’s more than “you can stay”, “it’s
fine”..more like, “I want you here Paul”.
Beat. Sethe is frightened by the prospect of feeling for him.
Maybe we should leave things the way they
Sethe rises to enter the house when Paul’s words stop her:
How are they?
We get along.
What about inside?
I don’t go inside.
Sethe, if I’m here with you, with Denver,
you can go anywhere you want. Jump, if
you want to, ‘cause I’ll catch you. Go as
far inside as you need – I’ll hold your
ankles. Make sure you get back out. I’m
not saying this because I need a place to
stay. I told you, I’m a walking man, but
I been heading in this direction for
seven years. When I got here and sat out
there on the porch, waiting for you,
well, I knew it wasn’t the place I was
heading toward. It was you. We can make a
life girl. A life.
I don’t know. I don’t know.
Leave it to me. See how it goes. No
promises, if you don’t want to make any.
Just see how it goes, all right?
Sethe’s heart is twisted. She wants to cry…because she
feels hope…and because she feels fear.
All right. We’ll see how it goes.
You willing to leave it to me?
Well..some of it.
Sethe manages a smile.
INT. DENVER’S BEDROOM – NIGHT.
Denver lies curled up in her bed. Alone.
Sethe enters and crawls in unexpectedly. Denver looks up,
surprised to see her.
What is it? What’s wrong?
Nothing. Nothing’s wrong. Lay back down.
Denver obeys, unsure.
You think baby ghost’s really gone?
I miss her.
Sethe lets out a small laugh.
I do. Baby Suggs told me baby ghost would
never hurt me. She was my sister. When I
was little, after the boys left, I used
to think that she and me both were
waiting for daddy to come. And once he
did, she wouldn’t be mad no more.
(Sethe listens sadly)
They hear Paul singing out on the porch. Denver grimaces.
Wish he’d shut-up…He’s ruined
No, he hasn’t. He won’t.
He..he wants to takes us to the
carnival next Thursday…
Denver’s eyes light up with excitement then caution.
You mean, go out where they’ll be other
Dress up a little bit. Wear our hats.
What do you think?
(downplaying her excitement)
Maybe…All right…all right.
(difficult for her to say)
Can I ask you something?
(Denver nods, her back to
I was wondrin’..What you think about
us…maybe… maybe thinking we could
start…if we got an idea to, thinking we
could start.. countin’ on…
On what mama? Countin’ on what?
Sethe can barely bring herself to say. To hope. To imagine.
Paul? But, for Denver, she forces herself and whispers;
EXT. CARNIVAL – DAY.
Paul and Sethe and Denver walk among the hundreds of black
townspeople gathered for the carnival.
A sign reads COLORED THURSDAY…TWO PENNIES ENTRANCE FEE.
Paul is in high spirits. Saying hello to anyone whose eye he
catches. Willing, eager to get anything for Denver she wants.
Feeling a little more like a normal van in a normal life.
Denver is excited but worried. She doesn’t want to like Paul
but can’t help the thrill she’s feeling. And when one or two
passersby shout out;
Hey Denver!…Hi there Denver!
Denver heart almost weeps with joy.
Sethe walks cautiously. Overdressed for the occasion, it is
her first outing among neighborhood folk in many years.
She catches the eyes of some of the women she knows…ELLA
and LADY JONES..good Christian women who nod in their
acknowledgement yet are holding back something. A judgement?
Paul doesn’t notice them and for this Sethe is glad.
MONTAGE of SCENES…the various carnival acts, all performed
by a WHITE TROUPE; magic, clowning, fire swallowing, spitting
ribbons, acrobats forming pyramids…
Our trio take it all in like water to the thirsty.
At one point, A WHITE CARNIVAL BARKER shouts to the children;
All Pickaninnies free!!
The phrase stabs Sethe and Paul a bit. But Paul whispers;
Two pennies and an insult well spent in
my opinion to see the spectacle of
whitefolks making a spectacle of
Sethe can’t help but let out a small laugh – and with that
laugh, a sudden sensation of relief…
Paul buys Denver some licorice, peppermint and lemonade.
Holding the lemonade for her, Paul asks;
Mind if I take a sip?
Denver agrees. Paul takes some lemonade then wipes the rim
where he sipped with a small napkin and gently hands it back
to her. Denver, in spite of herself, is starting to like him.
EXT. COUNTRY ROAD – DAY.
Our trio are leaving the carnival, walking three astride with
distance in between each. The sunlight casts strong shadows.
Sethe’s eyes glance towards the ground behind them and sees;
THEIR THREE SHADOWS ARE HOLDING HANDS…..as they walk home.
EXT. A STREAM AND THE BANK BESIDE IT – DAY.
WIDE ANGLE of a BEAUTIFUL, WIDE STREAM (more like a small
river) with a MULBERRY TREE standing tall on the bank before
it. There is not a soul in sight as the stream moves
gracefully beneath the sun.
A FULLY DRESSED YOUNG BLACK WOMAN EMERGES FROM THE MIDDLE OF
THE STREAM LIKE A GODDESS ARISING OUT OF SPIRITUAL WATERS…
SHE WEARS A STRAW HATT A WHITE DRESS WITH BUTTONS, A LACE
COLLAR AND NEW SHOES. SHE WALKS OUT OF THE WATER TO THE BANK.
Exhausted, sopping wet and breathing heavily as if from
asthma, she sits, leaning against the mulberry tree. She
seems too tired to even hold her head upon her neck. Yet her
skin is like new lineless and smooth. Glowing.
Although racked with pain, SHE IS SMILING. Smiling the way
travellers smile when they have finally arrived after a long
and arduous journey.
EXT. WOODS – DAY.
The Young Black Woman makes her way through the woods. She
passes by Denver’s BOXWOOD BUSH secret place. Then continues
forward, as if with a specific direction in mind.
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE ROAD – LATE AFTERNOON.
Sethe, Paul and Denver approach 124. Denver is the first to
Look. What is that?
All three look to see;
THE YOUNG BLACK WOMAN sitting on a stump not far from the
steps of 124.
As the three approach, the Young Woman lifts her head and
stares directly at Sethe.
The two women exchange a moment in their eyes – Sethe,
curious yet warm…The Young Woman, happy yet there is a
hunger in her stare.
INT. KITCHEN – MOMENTS LATER.
The Young Woman seated on a chair as Denver refills a tin cup
of water. The Young Woman drinks greedily, cup after cup.
You from around here?
The Young Woman shakes her head NO. She reaches down and
takes off her shoes, which Sethe notices as new. Sethe bends
down to pick them up. The Young Woman never lets her eyes
Those shoes look brand new.
What might your name be?
The Young Woman speaks in a low, rough voice;
Sethe drops the shoes. Denver sits down. Paul smiles;
Beloved. You use a last name, Beloved?
Last. No..just Beloved..
(she spells it)
As she spells it we see sethe’s reaction; she is deeply
touched. Then Denver’s – who looks both amazed and curiously
Sethe hangs her own hat on a peg then approaches Beloved.
That’s a pretty name Beloved. Take off
your hat and I’ll make us something. We
just got back from the carnival over near
But Beloved has fallen asleep upright in the chair.
Miss…Miss, you want to lay down?
Her eyes open to slits. Paul is about to help her when Denver
I’ll take her up. She can sleep in baby
Suggs room – that all right Mama?
Denver eases Beloved onto her feet, which Sethe and Paul
notice do not have a line or sore on them.
(whispers to Sethe)
Look at her feet? They’re not walking
feet. More like she rode from somewhere
all the way here.
Yet, Beloved can barely stand upon them as Denver escorts her
to the white staircase. Beloved starts coughing.
Sounds like the croup.
Is she feverish, Denver?
No. She’s cold.
Then she is. Fever goes from hot to cold.
Could have the cholera.
She’s not sick!
Denver helps her up the stairs. Sethe and Paul register
Denver’s defensive reaction.
INT. BABY SUGG’S ROOM – SAME TIME.
Denver eases Beloved into the bed. Beloved falls asleep the
second she hits the pillow. Denver gently – cautiously –
strokes Beloved’s forehead and cheek.
INT. BABY SUGG’S ROOM – NIGHT.
Denver stands vigil beside Beloved, wrapped beneath a quilt.
INT. BABY SUGG’S ROOM – THE FOLLOWING DAY.
Denver watches her sleep, wiping her hot forehead with cold
INT. BABY’S SUGG’S ROOM – NIGHT.
Denver washes out Beloved’s underwear and stockings…She
hears Beloved murmuring. She moves quickly to her side.
Beloved? Beloved I’m here…what is it?
Heavy..this place is heavy.
Would you like to sit up?
Beloved shakes her head no. She takes hold of Denver’s arm
and wraps it around her own body. Denver sits up against the
pillow as Beloved snuggles her body into Denver’s arms and
falls back asleep. Denver holds her, lovingly.
INT. BABY SUGGS ROOM – DAYS LATER.
Denver has not left her bedside. She places another quilt
upon her, tucking it in around the sides. As she does this,
Beloved’s eyes open for a brief moment, catching the sight of
Denver over her. She smiles. Denver gratefully smiles back.
Can I get you anything? Are you hungry?
Beloved looks over to a plate of half finished food –
Denver’s meal. Denver picks up a piece of sweet bread and
feeds her. Denver is thrilled.
THE FOLLOWING SCENES TAKE PLACE OVER SEVERAL WEEKS;
INT. KITCHEN – THE NEXT DAY.
Denver places sugar between two pieces of bread and gives the
sandwich to Beloved, who, no longer feeling sickly, accepts
it with a bright smile.
EXT. HEN HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY.
Denver explains how to pack mud in the cracks of the hen
house as Beloved listens attentively, eating jelly out of a
INT. HEN HOUSE – ANOTHER DAY.
Denver explains to Beloved how to warm the chicks with their
skirts as the latter eats something sweet. They both giggle
at the softness of the chicks.
INT. DENVER & BELOVED’S BEDROOM – ANOTHER DAY.
Denver is showing Beloved how to make her bed.
..then you fold it over like this see.
This here used to be where my brothers
and me slept. I was always at the top.
How you get so smart?
I ain’t so smart.
Yes you are!
Well, I used to go to Lady Jones. She’d
teach us with songs how to spell and
You don’t go no more?
No I…I had to stop going.
You so smart. Tell me about your
Well..they’re names were Howard and..
As Denver continues, Beloved steps towards her and begins to
touch her face – examining her lips, her nose, her skin as if
it were a rose to admire. Denver drinks in the attention, her
heart expanding with love with every touch from this strange
..and….and Bulgar…At night, we used
to..crawl into bed together..I’d lay down
on Bul’s lap and Howard would tell us die-
witch stories. He said they would protect
us…And if I learned them, they would
protect me if ever they were gone…
EXT. PORCH – EARLY EVENING.
Everyone is sitting on the porch after dinner.
Beloved, looking strong and fit, eats a cane stick – gnawing
at it to the flax, keeping the strings in her mouth long
after the syrup had been sucked off. It makes Denver laugh,
as she licks her cane stick. It makes Sethe smile, to see
them both happy.
It makes Paul disgusted.
INT. KEEPING ROOM – NIGHT.
Paul confronts Sethe as she sews.
You gonna just feed her, from now on?
Denver likes her. She’s no real trouble.
But don’t she have a home? Some place to
Didn’t mention one. I thought we’d wait
until her breathing got better. She still
sounds a little lumbar.
She breathe like she can eat, she could
blow this whole house down. And all those
Sometimes the body needs that sugar for
strength when it’s trying to recover
after an illness.
But that’s just it. She don’t seem sick.
Something funny about her.
Acts sick, sounds sick but she don’t look
sick. Good skin, bright hands and strong
as a bull.
She can hardly walk without holding onto
That’s what I mean. Can’t walk but I
passed by Baby Sugg’s room this morning
and saw her lifting the rocker with one
Don’t tell me. Ask Denver. She was right
At that moment, Denver passes by on her way to the kitchen.
Denver. Come in here a minute.
Denver enters the keeping room.
Paul says you saw Beloved pick up the
rocking chair in Baby Suggs room with one
hand. That so?
Denver looks at Paul with a hard gaze;
I didn’t see no such thing.
From Paul’s expression we can tell Denver is lying…and
whatever fragile connection they were building, is swiftly
INT. SETHE’S BEDROOM – NIGHT.
Sethe is getting ready for bed. Denver sticks her head in:
Have you seen her? I can’t find her.
Sethe shakes her head. Denver exits anxiously. The mentions
of Beloved’s name stir a MEMORY in Sethe:
EXT. GRAVESTONE YARD – A DAY REMEMBERED.
Sethe talks to the HEADSTONE ENGRAVER as he works in the hot
sun. His YOUNG SON helps him.
She need a marker. Somethin’ to tell me
where she is. But I ain’t got no money.
The Engraver eyes her body.
What you got then?
Sethe is embarrassed by his lascivious tone, especially in
front of the young boy.
The Engraver rises, takes a step toward Sethe and touches her
hip, curling his hand around to her back.
What you want it to say?
I was thinking what the preacher say at
the funeral. Dearly Beloved.
For ten minutes I give you one word for
His hand glides down to her buttocks. Sethe can’t help but
see the Young Boy watching the scene.
END of MEMORY.
INT. SETHE’S BEDROOM – NIGHT.
As the memory starts to fade form her mind, Sethe suddenly
feels someone else’s presence. She looks up to find:
Beloved standing by the door – watching her.
Oh!…I didn’t know you were there.
Can I help?
Help what, honey?
Beloved kneels before her on the floor and finishes buttoning
up Sethe’s night dress.
Where you go in the morning?
Work. I work in a restaurant.
What time you go?
Little after the sun come up. I like to
make a loaf of bread before I go. How you
Beloved nods, absorbing the information.
You remember your mother at all?
(scratching back of her head)
I remember a woman who was mine and I
remember bein snatched away from her.
Sethe, nods, understanding such things. She cautiously
reaches out to stroke Beloved’s face. Beloved responds like a
puppy, pressing her cheek against Sethe’s hand. Sethe is
INT. KITCHEN – PRE DAWN.
Sethe enters the kitchen to make bread before she leaves for
work. She finds Beloved waiting for her, placing out her
cooking things on the table. Beloved looks up and smiles.
I’m helpin make your bread.
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE – EARLY EVENING.
Beloved waits anxiously at the window for the sight of Sethe
coming home from work….
When she sees her, she runs through the house, out the door
to meet her.
Denver appears at the door, upset by Beloved’s loss of
attention in her.
EXT. PORCH – EVENING.
C.U. – SETHE, as she leans her tired head against the porch,
sitting on the step. She closes her eyes and is about to
drift off, when;
BELOVED’S HAND gently touches her shoulder, settling there.
Sethe looks up and smiles, patting her hand. Beloved stands
above her as Denver takes a seat on the step.
Beloved searches Sethe’s eyes and asks;
Where your diamonds?
The question surprises Sethe…and startles Denver.
Diamonds? What would I be doing with diamonds?
On your ears.
Wish I did.
Hmm..come to think of it, I had some
crystal once. A present from Mrs. Garner –
woman I worked for at Sweet Home.
I never saw you with no earrings.
Gone. Long gone.
Tell me…Tell me about your diamonds…
Sethe hesitates. Beloved kneels at her feet.
Ma’am don’t talk about Sweet Home.
Tell me…Tell me about your diamonds.
Denver awaits her mother’s reaction with great interest.
Sethe looks at Beloved sweet, innocent expression and
something in her resistance, eases:
Well..this lady I worked for in Kentucky
gave them to me when I got married..
Denver is both interested and slightly hurt at her mother’s
willingness to tell Beloved what she’d never tell her:
..What they called married back then. I
remember going up to her in the kitchen
to tell her. I’d help her make ink for
Mr. Garner in the kitchen. I was fool
enough to think I was going have some
kind of ceremony…maybe even a new
(CONTINUES AS WE CUT TO;)
Sethe’s continues telling Beloved, an attentive audience…
Denver, more attuned to Beloved’s interest than the story, is
disturbed at her mother’s telling of it.
INT. KITCHEN – ANOTHER EVENING.
Camera moves up from the mended legs of the table Paul broke
A suspicious Paul glares at Beloved as they eat dinner.
Beloved is ever ready to pass Sethe a bowl or napkin or
whatever she needs. She is “shining” – for Sethe, and for
Denver notices it as well.
It is raining outside. Both Denver and Beloved are wet from
the rain. Denver’s hair is all tangled.
Best unbraid that hair.
Today’s always here. Tomorrow never.
Comb it everyday, it won’t..
Your woman never fixed up your hair?
All three look to Beloved, puzzled by her question, which is
clearly intended for Sethe. Paul’s getting more annoyed.
My woman?..You mean my mother?
Beloved nods. Paul and Denver exchange a curious look.
If she did I don’t remember. I don’t
think I saw her but a few times.
Tell me ‘bout her.
Paul and Denver look to Sethe, waiting to see if she’ll answer.
..I remember once, she picked me up and
carried me behind the smokehouse… The
only thing I do remember in fact…
Paul is disturbed by Sethe’s carefree storytelling – how it
contradicts her words to him that first day and worried it
will lead to no good…
Once again, Denver is surprised to hear what she’s never
heard before. She looks to Paul and knows what he is
thinking. Paul looks back and knows Denver realizes it. But
Denver returns his glance with a defensive dismissal of the
…She opened up her dress and right on
her rib, right here, was a circle and a
cross burnt right into the skin….
Paul doesn’t want her to continue but doesn’t want to say so.
Any more beans?
Sethe rises to get him more food and she continues:
…anyway, she points to this mark and
says to me “This is your ma’am. I am the
only one whose got this mark now. The
rest all dead. If something happens to me
and you can’t tell me by my face, you can
know me by this mark”..Scared me so…
I couldn’t think of anything to say so I
said “Yes Ma’am..but how will you know
us? Mark me too. Mark the mark on me
No. She slapped my face. I didn’t
understand it then. Not until I had a
mark of my own…
Paul is disturbed. He can see Sethe getting upset. He is mad
at Beloved for her damn questions..
What happened to her?
Something inside of Sethe stops, a wall erected. Something
unwanted is coming into her consciousness. Paul notices it.
Don’t know. Everybody done?
Sethe collects a few dishes and crosses to the sink as Paul asks:
Well, as long as we’re all asking
questions, getting to know each other..
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about
Camera follows Sethe as she arrives at the sink, placing the
dish inside. We hear the others O.S.:
She don’t remember nothing.
You be surprised what you start
remembering once you start talking.
Can I have some more pudding?
Camera stays on Sethe as we drown out the voices at the
kitchen table. She is staring out the window above the sink
as if watching the MEMORY BEING RELIVED IN HER YARD;
POV – OUT THE WINDOW;
EXT. A LARGE TREE IN A FIELD – A DAY REMEMBERED.
A CROWD of people surround a tree. SEVERAL WHITE MEN are
preparing to hang a group of black men and women standing in
line, awaiting their turn.
Among the crowd is A CHILD (SETHE) holding the hand of an
OLDER BLACK SLAVE WOMAN (NAN). Nan is pointing to a WOMAN
(SETHE’S MOTHER), who is one of the people waiting in line to
be hanged. Nan whispers to Sethe:
That’s your mama – right there.
Little Sethe looks up and sees her mother – her face a mask
of courage and rage and tears. She looks straight ahead – not
at anyone in particular, especially not her daughter.
..I’m telling you, small girl Sethe…Me
and your Mama was taken by the men many
times..She threw them other babies
away..the others from the whites, without
names, she threw them away..But you she
gave the name of the black man. She had
her arms around him, child. The others,
she did not put her arms around.
The child Sethe listens, watching her mother move further
down the line.
END of MEMORY as WE CUT BACK TO:
INT. KITCHEN –
Sethe, the memory passing, hears the voices in her kitchen:
Ain’t you got no brothers or sisters?
I don’t have nobody.
She finds Paul interrogating Beloved who eats a second
pudding. Denver tries to interfere.
She has us now!
You been here five weeks, we still don’t
know nothing bout you..
Paul, Stop it. Denver bring those dishes.
What was you looking for when you came here?
This place. I was looking for this place
I could be in.
Somebody tell you about this place?
At the sink, both Sethe and Denver pause, obviously interested.
She told me. When I was at the bridge,
she told me.
Paul looks quizzically at Sethe, who shrugs;
Must be somebody from the old days.
How’d you come? Who brought you?
I walked here. A long, long, long, long
way. Nobody bring me.
You had new shoes. If you walked so long
why don’t your shoes show it?
Paul D. stop picking on her.
I want to know! Where’d you get them
shoes and that dress you had on?
I take the shoes! (coughs) I take the
dress! (coughs) The shoe strings don’t
Suddenly, she begins to CHOKE on a raisin from the pudding
and falls backward, off the chair.
Denver and Sethe rush towards her. Beloved thrashes around
until they help her turn over and spit up the raisin.
She breathes in Sethe’s arms as Denver wipes up the mess,
glaring at Paul.
You all right?
I want to go to sleep now.
Come to my room. I can watch out for you
Sethe gets Beloved to her feet. Denver takes her up the
staircase to her room – glaring at Paul.
When the girls have gone, Sethe turns on Paul as she cleans
What’s the matter with you?
I don’t understand what the hold is. It’s
clear why she holds onto you, but I just
can’t see why you holding on to her.
What you care who’s holding on to who?
Feeding her is no trouble. And she’s nice
company for Denver.
We was just starting to feel a little
like a family ourselves.
Is that what’s got your teeth on edge?
I can’t place it. It’s a feeling in me.
You wanna feel somethin!? … Feel how it
is to have a bed to sleep in and somebody
there not worrying you to death about
what you got to do each day to deserve
it. And if that don’t get it, feel how it
feels to be a colored woman roaming the
roads with anything God made liable to
jump on you. Feel that!
I know every bit of that, Sethe. I wasn’t
born yesterday and I never mistreated a
woman in my life!
Well, that makes one of you in this
One? Not two.
No. Not two!
What Halle ever do to you? Halle stood by
you. He never left you.
Ha, what’d he leave then if not me, huh?
I don’t know but it wasn’t you. That’s a
Then he did worse – he left his children.
You don’t know that.
HE WASN’T THERE! He wasn’t where he said
he would be! I had to pack my babies off
ahead of me, on their own, so I could
stay behind to look for him…Underground
agent said by Sunday we had to leave..
Sunday came and he wasn’t there.
He couldn’t get out of the loft, I expect.
Forgetting himself, Paul let that slip out.
Loft? What loft?
The one over your head… The one in the
Sethe stops dead cold. It’s no use…
The MEMORY TAKES OVER:
INT. BARN – THE PAST.
Violent, rapid images of Sethe being raped and beaten held
down by SCHOOLTEACHER’S BOYS. Sethe, pinned down, stares up
at the loft…Camera rises up…
There, in the loft, hides HALLE…The expression on his face
is that of a man broken in two…
END of MEMORY.
INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT.
Sethe wraps her arms tightly around herself and asks;
He saw? He told you he saw?
You told me. The day I came here. You
said they stole your milk. I never knew
what messed Halle up. That was it, I
guess. I seen him the day after you left.
Says where you been Halle? All he says to
me was “the loft”. I asked him what he
meant not going with you but he never
answers me. But I knew was something
broke him. Not one of them years of
Saturdays, Sundays and nighttime extra
never touched him. But whatever he saw go
on in the barn that day broke him like a
He saw them boys do that to me and let
them keep on breathing?
A man ain’t a Goddamn ax, Sethe.
Chopping, hacking, busting every Goddamn
minute of the day. Things get to him.
Things he can’t chop down cause they
inside him. The last time I saw him, I
knew he was broken for good…
What did he say?
What did you say? Didn’t you say anything
Couldn’t?! Why the hell not?!
C.U. on PAUL who doesn’t want to explain – or even remember –
as we cut to:
EXT. SWEET HOME – DAY.
PAUL HAS A BIT IN HIS MOUTH CHAINED TO A WAGON.
He is being lead away from Sweet Home with other black men,
by Three white Men. The bit jerks his head back, saliva
spills uncontrollably out of his mouth. His hands are chained
behind him. His feet chained together at the
ankles….Another chain is connected to an iron belt and
stretches to a wagon. He is being lead away with forty five
I tried to kill Brandywine – man
Schoolteacher sold me to. Don’t know what
possessed me…Me and about 45 other
prisoners were being walked from Kentucky
to Virginia…then on to Georgia. Two
places I don’t ever want to see again.
He is lead past the milk shed, when he sees:
HALLE, alone with a crazed faraway look in his eyes, sitting
by the butter churn. HALLE’S FACE IS COVERED WITH BUTTER AND
CLABBER. He sticks his hands in the churn and continues to
cover his face with the sticky, slippery, white substance
covering his face and head, squeezing it through his hands.
The White Men laugh. Paul is aching to scream out to him but
the iron bit holds down his tongue.
As Paul is lead past Halle, A ROOSTER named MISTER is SITTING
ON A TUB in the sun shrieks with an almost arrogant glee.
Look at Mister there…
(referring to the rooster)
You go tell these niggers where to go
there Mister! Crow’em right outta here!
Mister crows and the white men laugh.
Tears of rage and humiliation stream down Paul’s face. He
struggles to keep a view of Halle, until he is out of sight.
END OF MEMORY.
EXT. PORCH. – EARLY EVENING.
Paul approaches Sethe, touching her gently.
I didn’t mean to tell you that.
I didn’t plan on hearing it.
I can’t take it back but I can leave it
Sethe, instead of collapsing from the information, she seems
Let’s do that..let’s leave it alone now.
(more to herself)
Let it alone. Just sit down and leave it
be! Yeah that would be nice. Would be
even nicer to lose it altogether – if I
had my choice. Halle did. Other people’s
brains stopped, went crazy. How sweet
that would have been. Me and Halle
squatting by that churn, smashing cold
lumpy butter in our faces, not a care in
Sethe, don’t do this..
What a relief to just stop it all right
there, huh?!! Close it shut! Squeeze that
butter…But I had three children on
their way to Ohio and nothing would have
changed that! And you tell me he didn’t
Sethe exits O.S. Paul is left alone on the porch until
Beloved runs out of the house giggling with Denver in
pursuit. As Denver passes, Paul sarcastically remarks;
Guess she’s feeling better, huh?
Denver gives him a quick, disdainful look, then continues
The two girls run towards the woods.
EXT. BOXWOOD BUSH ROOM – NIGHT.
Beloved is dancing beneath a bright moon. Denver is an
attentive, grateful audience.
Where’d you learn to dance?
Nowhere. Look at me do this!
She puts her fists on her hips and skips.
Now you! Come on! Come on!
She takes Denver’s hand and places another on her shoulder.
As they dance, Denver laughs harder and harder – a giddiness
from the dizziness and the gratitude she feels for Beloved’s
They spin and fall to the ground, like two lovers nestled.
Beloved catches her breath as Denver asks;
Why you call yourself Beloved?
In the dark my name is Beloved.
What’s it like where you were before?
(a thoughtful expression)
Dark. I’m small in that place. I’m like
Were you cold?
Hot. Nothing to breathe there. No room to
How did you get here?
I wait; then I got on the bridge. I stay
there in the dark, in the daytime, in the
dark in the daytime. Long time.
All this time you were on the bridge?
No. After. When I got out.
Why’d you come here?
To see her face.
And with that, Denver takes a breath of courage to ask the
question she’s been longing to ask:
You my sister, ain’t you? You really are.
Beloved looks at her and smiles. They are so close she leans
in curiously and – touching Denver’s face – kisses her on the
You won’t leave us, will you?
No. Never. This is where I am.
I knew it. I knew. First time I saw you
and you said your name. And when you
touched me – real gentle. And familiar.
Like I’d felt that touch before.
Smiling, Beloved moves to touch Denver’s cheek when suddenly,
Denver sits up cross legged and urges Beloved;
Don’t tell mama. You musn’t tell her who
you really are. I don’t know what she’d
do! Please, you hear?
Suddenly, Beloved’s face turns to rage as she rises up as
Don’t tell me what to do? Don’t never
tell me what to do!?
But..but I’m on your side. I want to
(stands above Denver)
She’s the one! She’s the one I need! You
can go but she’s the one I have to have!
Beloved abruptly drops to her knees and crawls out the
boxwood bush room as Denver’s pleads;
No. Beloved please! Don’t go! I didn’t do
nothing! We were dancing! Don’t go!….
INT. DENVER’S & BELOVED’S ROOM – DAWN THE FOLLOWING DAY.
The room is still dark from the night but the sun is rising
Suddenly, Beloved awakens with a start. She senses something.
She rises and looks out the window to see;
SETHE WALKING ACROSS THE FIELD.
Beloved quickly grabs her clothes and exits to follow her, as
Denver awakens just in time to see her go.
EXT. WOODS EARLY MORNING.
Sethe is dressed as if for church as she makes her way through
the woods with a specific destination in mind.
Soon, she comes upon;
EXT. A CLEARING IN THE WOODS – EARLY MORNING.
Sethe steps out of the woods and into an open clearing. A
LARGE ROCK sits in the clearing like a pulpit above the pew’s
of grass and weeds.
Sethe remembers the place as it was… She hears the VOICES
OF A CROWD…a gathering of people though the clearing
remains empty. She crosses to the rock and sits. Camera moves
up to reveal –
BABY SUGGS, vital and strong, standing on the rock,
I’m not here to tell you all to clean up
your lives and sin no more….I’m not
here to tell you we’re the blessed meek
and are glorybound!…I’m here to tell
you that the only grace we can have, is
the grace we can imagine…And if you
cannot see it, then you shall not have
END OF MEMORY.
C.U. on SETHE as she remembers Baby Suggs words, sitting
alone in the clearing – the images of the past gone.
EXT. WOODS – SAME TIME.
Beloved has found her and watches from a hidden place…
Camera moves beyond her to find;
Denver, having followed Beloved, watches her from a distance.
EXT. A CLEARING IN THE WOODS – EARLY MORNING.
Sethe remembers Baby Suggs advice:
BABY SUGGS (V.O.)
..God lead you home… So now, lay’em
down, child. Sword and shield..Don’t
study war no more. Lay all that mess
down. Sword and shield…
Lay’em down…sword and shield.
Sethe weeps…She slides to the ground and holds her head to
weep. She covers her head from God and cries AS SHE LETS THE
MEMORIES COME..memories she can no longer fight from coming;
EXT. SWEET HOME – A NIGHT REMEMBERED.
SETHE IS IN THE SAME BENT OVER POSITION only here, her back
is exposed and she is being beaten by the Schoolteacher’s
boys. The BOY BEATING SETHE never stops with the whip for a
second as he rants;
BOY BEATING SETHE
NIGGER TRASH..OPENING YOUR MOUTH…
YOU GONNA KILL HER! YOU BETTER STOP!
BOY BEATING SETHE
I’LL KILL HER ALL RIGHT…NEVER OPEN HER
MOUTH ‘BOUT ME AGIN….
They beat her mercilessly.
EXT. FIELD – NIGHT.
Sethe, tear stained, bloody and very pregnant fights her way
through a corn field as she makes her escape..
Her dress hangs torn at the back – her wounds open and
bleeding. Her feet already swollen and blistered. She is in
agonizing pain. She moves like a figure in a nightmare.
A SERIES OF IMAGES IN WHICH WE SEE SETHE STRUGGLING THROUGH
DAYS AND NIGHTS OF WALKING AND HIDING, IN VARIOUS LOCATIONS
AS SHE MAKES HER WAY ACROSS THE STATE.
THE FINAL IMAGE IS:
EXT. ONION FIELD – DAY.
Sethe falls to the ground unable to move – her contractions
have started and the pain is unbearable.
Her breasts are leaking on her sweat stained body. Her legs
are scratched and bleeding from moving through broken twigs
and rock. On her back, the tree is starting to form.
She lays there waiting for death. Until a VOICE ASKS:
WHO THAT BACK THERE!
Sethe can not answer as she hears TWO FEET moving through the
field. She clutches her pregnant stomach as if somehow she
might hide it from whoever might be coming to harm her.
A RAGGEDLY LOOKING WHITE GIRL with arms like cane stalks and
enough hair for five heads steps through into view.
Look there. A nigger. If that don’t beat
Sethe can not speak for fear.
Man, you ‘bout the scariest looking
something I ever seen. What you doing
back up here?
Sethe manages to control her breath and push out the word;
Amy looks at Sethe’s swollen, bloody flesh at the end of her
Them the feet you running on? My Jesus
Am I in Ohio?
Ohio! Fool girl – you in Kentucky. You
‘bout a thousand miles from Ohio.
(murmurs to herself)
I’m still in Kentucky.
You got anything on you, gal, pass for
I like to die I’m so hungry. Thought
there might be huckleberries. That’s why
I come up here. You having a baby?
I expect this baby ma’am is gonna die in
these wild onions.
Amy doesn’t know what to do with that information. So..
Well, I got to eat something.
Any stands and looks as if she’s about to leave when Sethe,
feeling the girl is safe, stops her with a question.
Where you on your way to, miss?
(eager to tell)
Boston. Get me some velvet. It’s a store
called Wilson. I seen pictures and they
have the prettiest velvet.
Boston – is that far?
Farther than Ohio.
Must be velvet closer by.
Not like in Boston. Be so pretty on me.
You ever touch velvet? Or even seen it?
If I did, I didn’t know it. What’s it like?
Sethe desperately wants her to stay – to not be alone. Amy
kneels back down to her, curious now;
What they call you?
What you gonna do, just lay there and
I can’t get up.
I can’t get up.
Amy wipes her nose and looks up beyond Sethe.
There’s a house back yonder. Well, not a
house with people in it – more like a
lean-to near the river.
Make a difference, does it? You stay
here, snake might get you.
Well, he may come but I can’t stand up,
let alone walk…and God help me, I can’t
Sure you can Lu..come on..
Amy helps Sethe turn over onto all fours.
EXT. ONION FIELD – DAY…MINUTES LATER.
Amy walks beside Sethe as the latter painfully crawls, taking
moments to stop and let the pain go through her.
Come on Lu! You got to move faster than
that. You won’t get to Ohio til you
ninety years old, you keep moving that
INT. LEAN-TO – EARLY EVENING.
Amy makes a pile of leaves for Sethe to lay on and some rocks
for her to put up her feet. She talks non-stop as she works.
Never know it to look at me but I used to
be a good size. Nice arms, everything.
That was before they put me in the root
She eases Sethe onto the leaves then lifts her feet onto the
…Mama worked for these people here to
pay for her passage but then she had me
and died right after so I had to work
for’em.. I was fishing off the Beaver
once and a nigger floated right by me. I
don’t like drowned people, do you? Your
feet remind me of him. All swole like.
Amy props Sethe up from behind when she notices
You all bloody back here. Gal you a mess.
Undo your dress – let me see.
Sethe makes a tremendous effort just to turn to her side as
Amy undoes her dress;
Lord, I ain’t never seen a poorer excuse
Amy sees Sethe’s back and, for a moment, is speechless. Then:
Jesus…It’s a tree Lu..A chokecherry
tree. I had me some whippings but I don’t
remember nothing like this. Glad I ain’t
you.. what God have in mind I wonder.
…You thank your Maker I come along.
Spiderwebs all I can do for you. What’s
in here ain’t enough. I’ll look
outside…Maybe I ought to break them
blossoms open and let the pus run..
That you ain’t dead yet Lu’s a miracle.
Make you a bet..You make it through the
night, you make it all the way…
INT. LEAN-TO – NIGHT.
To Sethe’s amazement, Amy begins to massage her feet and legs
the pain of which causes Sethe to cry.
It’s gonna hurt now..Anything dead coming
back to life hurts. Stop wiggling, girl.
“WHEN THE BUSY DAY IS DONE AND MY WEARY
LITTLE ONE ROCKETH TO AND FRO; WHEN THE
NIGHT WINDS SOFTLY BLOW AND CRICKETS
CHIRP AGAIN; WHERE’PON THE HAUNTED GREEN
FAIRIES DANCE AROUND THEIR QUEEN THEN
FROM YONDER MISTY SKIES COMETH LADY
Don’t up and die on me in the night, you
hear me Lu? I don’t want to see your ugly
face hankering over me. If you do die,
just go on off somewhere where I can’t
see you, hear?
I’ll do what I can, miss.
Amy continues singing…..
EXT. PATH LEADING TO RIVER – DAY.
Sethe is trying to walk, holding on to Amy at first, then a
Cause of me, you up and walking. See,
Jesus – Lu made it through..I’m good at
sick things, ain’t I?
Yeah, you good…
What’s that all over your dress?
Milk..Got to get my milk to my baby girl.
You got another baby waiting for you?
(stops and touches belly)
I think this one is dead.
Amy doesn’t know what to say, so she says:
Sethe keeps trying to walk;
I ain’t nothing but in a hurry, miss. Got
to meet someone…help bring me and my
milk to my baby girl…
You want shoes?
I figured how…
Amy cutting two pieces form Sethe shawl then filling them
with leaves and tying them over her feet –
EXT. RIVERBANK – DAY.
Sethe and Amy walk towards the river when then see:
A SMALL, ABANDONED ROWBOAT with oars.
Jesus looking at you, girl!
Sethe can’t believe her eyes. She walks right into the water
when suddenly, her own water breaks and her labor begins…
She doubles up in pain;
What you doing that for!? Ain’t you got a
brain in your head? Stop that right now!
I said stop it, Lu. You the dumbest thing
on this here earth, LU!..LU!
Sethe, on her knees, crawls into the boat and props her feet
up. Water leaks in wherever it can, rising up as high as her
waist. Amy takes her position to assist.
Oh Jesus, I’m awful sorry ‘bout the
braggin…I need you here now..Come on
Jesus…don’t be getting lost on me now.
Sethe screams in agony as the child pushes through. Amy curses;
Damn daddies never around ‘cept for the
fun part. Biggest joke God made on woman
was giving men the planters ‘stead of the
Amy’s strong hands pull Denver’s head out and up, to meet
Sethe’s eyes. Sethe cannot believe this creature made it
through..Amy rinses it with water then, wrapping it in her
skirt, holds it up to Sethe..
My Lord…She’s never gonna know who I
am. You gonna tell her? Who brought her
into this world. You better tell her, you
hear! You say MISS AMY DENVER. Of Boston.
That’s pretty. Denver. Real pretty.
EXT. BANKS OF THE OHIO RIVER – DAY.
Sethe awakens, mud-caked, on the banks of the river. Her baby
girl crying beside her. Amy is gone. She rises, painfully,
picks up her child and continues on her way.
MONTAGE – MORE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF SETHE, NOW WITHOUT AMY – A
NEW BABY STRAPPED TO HER BODY – MAKING HER AWAY ALONG THE
OHIO RIVER…THROUGH HOT SUNNY DAYS AND RAINY NIGHTS WITHOUT
PROTECTION…SEARCHING FOR FOOD AND SHELTER…
FINAL IMAGE IS:
EXT. RIVER BANK – OAK TREE – NIGHT.
A thunderstorm cracks across the sky and floods the river.
Sethe is sitting beneath the oak – the rain soaking her as
she breast feeds her baby. She cries out loud – but her sobs
and tears are lost in the rain and thunder.
EXT. RIVERBANK – LATER THAT DAY.
Sethe walks downriver with Denver tied to her chest. She
stops when she sees:
A FLATBED gliding down river. She can’t make out if they’re
white people or not, so she hides behind a tree until it
Waiting behind the tree, we see that Sethe is sweating a
fever. But Denver seems to be doing fine.
She sees the flatbed pass her and continues on her way. She
THREE COLORED PEOPLE – AN OLDER MAN and two boys – fishing.
She approaches cautiously.
One of the boys is the first to see her. Sethe’s bloody and
torn clothes and her feverish face make her quite a sight to
the young boy. He taps the Old Man on the shoulder and
motions for him to turn around.
The Old Man takes in Sethe and instantly knows where she’s
been and why she’s there.
Anybody know you coming?
Yes sir. My mother-in-law over in…
Stamp Paid raises his hand to stop her. He looks around to
see that no one else is in sight, then motions for her to sit
on a rock. As she does, he gets a water jug and hands it to
her – she drinks like a madman in the desert. The Boys watch
in fascination. Stamp Paid turns to one of them and says:
Take off that coat?
You heard me?
The Boy slips out of his jacket, complaining.
What am I gonna wear?
You want it back…
He unties the baby from Sethe and wraps it in the coat.
..then you go head and take it off this
baby. And if you can do that, then go
‘way somewhere and don’t come back.
EXT. RIVER – DAY.
On a flatbed, Stamp Paid crosses the river with Sethe, her
baby and the two boys.
EXT. OPPOSITE RIVER BANK – DAY.
Stamp Paid helps Sethe walk up a very steep bank while the
Boy without a jacket, carries the baby who wears it.
INT. BRUSH-COVERED HUTCH – DAY.
Stamp Paid leads Sethe and the others into the hutch.
Wait here. Somebody be here directly.
Don’t move. They’ll find you.
Thank you. What’s your name – so I can
remember you right.
Name’s Stamp. Stamp Paid. Watch out for
that baby, you hear?
She nods as he and the boys exit.
LATER – SAME LOCATION:
Sethe is asleep with the baby when ELLA enters the hutch;
Saw the sign a while ago but I couldn’t
get here no quicker.
Stamp always leave the old sty open when
there’s a crossing. Knots a white rag on
the post if it’s a child too.
My name’s Ella..Where you headed?
Ella empties a sack with a wool blanket, cotton cloth, two
baked sweet potatoes and a pair of men’s shoes.
My mother-in-law’s. Name’s Baby Suggs. She
got my other three children I sent ahead.
When was this one born?
Yesterday. I hope she makes it.
Hard to say.
(gives her men’s shoes)
Let’s try to get these on your feet.
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE ROAD – NIGHT.
Baby Suggs rises off the bench on the porch when she sees
Sethe coming up the walk. She runs to her and embraces Sethe
and the baby, tears in her eyes.
Oh my Lord…My sweet Lord thank you.
Baby Suggs welcomes Sethe into the house, kissing her hard on
the lips….Sethe can’t believe she’s in her arms.
Sethe looks at her with confusion and exhaustion.
He wasn’t there.
A flash of fear is quickly transformed into pragmatism.
Well, he be along presently, I’m sure.
Where are the children?
Not now. You too ugly looking to wake ‘em
up in the night. First we get you well..
INT. KEEPING ROOM – NIGHT.
Baby Suggs bathes Sethe – first her face, her body…hands,
When she gets to her unrecognizable feet, she touches them.
You feel this?
Baby Suggs notices roses of blood on Sethe’s back…She looks
and covers her mouth when she sees the remnants of the whipping.
INT. KEEPING ROOM – LATER THAT DAY.
Baby Suggs with two other grown women attend to Sethe’s back –
greasing it and pinning double thicknesses of cloth to the
inside of a newly stitched dress…
INT. KEEPING ROOM – STILL LATER THAT DAY.
Sethe, sitting in bed with her new dress and her wounds
dressed waits for her children.
Baby Suggs opens the door and the boys are ushered in. Sethe
welcomes them to her arms…They run to her, jumping on the
bed. The startle causes some pain but Sethe doesn’t care.
The Little Girl (Beloved) is crawling and ushered toward her
Already crawling – ain’t that somethin?
..Come on, baby girl..right this
Sethe picks her up and the tears flow. She can’t stop kissing
them – their necks, their heads, their hands…The Boys
inspect her strange looking feet and ask;
Baby Suggs seems doubtful but appreciates the lie for the
All right boys – mama’s home now, you be
seeing her all the time..Go downstairs
and get your supper…Go on…
Sethe hugs and kisses them as if for the last time – as if
she still doesn’t believe she can just get out of bed, walk
downstairs and be with them. The Boys leave as Sethe cradles
the Little Girl.
Sethe anxiously undoes her dress and carefully guides her
breast to the Little Girl. She winces with pain and smiles –
she got her milk to her baby girl.
Baby Suggs gathers the rags Sethe wore when she first arrived.
Nothing worth saving here.
Oh wait..Look and see if there’s
something knotted up in the petticoat.
Wedding present. From Mrs. Garner.
Baby Suggs finds TWO CRYSTAL EARRINGS.
Be nice if there was a groom to go with
it. What do you think happened to him?
I don’t know. He wasn’t where he said to
meet him at. I had to get out. I had to.
He’ll make it. if I made it, Halle sure
Well put these on – maybe they’ll light
As Sethe takes the earrings, the Little Baby Girl reaches for
Through her eyes, we see them sparkle and shine – like
Baby Suggs hands gently massage Sethe’s neck as she says;
Whatever happens now…God lead you home.
So now lay’em down Sethe…Sword and
shield..Don’t study war no more. Lay all
that mess down. Sword and shield…
Sethe surrenders herself to Baby Suggs firm, safe hands –
letting go of the “diamonds”, one of which lands in the hands
of the Little Girl…who plays with them in fascination…
END OF MEMORY.
CUT BACK TO:
EXT. A CLEARING IN THE WOODS – DAY
Sethe is remembering these last images, she eases her own
hand up to her neck – rubbing herself the way Baby Suggs did.
She realizes how much she misses her…and wonder who can
touch her now and help her “lay it all down”. And then, quite
AN IMAGE FLASHES ACROSS HER MIND;
– PAUL GENTLY EASING HIS HANDS AROUND SETHE FROM
BEHIND…TENDERLY KISSING SETHE’S BACK
Paul…There is Paul. Sethe realizes, as IMAGES FLASH ACROSS
HER MIND’S EYE:
– PAUL SITTING ON THE PORCH THE FIRST DAY HE ARRIVED.
– PAUL BATTLING THE BABY GHOST.
– PAUL SINGING AS HE FIXES THE KITCHEN TABLE.
– SETHE WRAPPED IN PAUL’S BIG ARMS AS THEY LAY IN BED.
Sethe rises from the ground, as if with a new realization.
She begins to walk out of the clearing and into the woods,
her pace increasing with each image….
EXT. WOODS – DAY.
Sethe walks through the woods, passing Beloved unawares – who
has fallen asleep by a tree. Beloved is awakened as Sethe
walks by, and gets to her feet to follow.
Further on, Sethe passes a sleeping Denver, who also awakens
upon hearing the footsteps of her mother, followed by
Beloved. Sethe walks on, unaware of them following her.
EXT. FIELD OF 124 BLUESTONE – DAY.
Wide angle of Sethe walking well ahead of Beloved and Denver.
Sethe is walking with great purpose and energy.
INT. 124 BLUESTONE ROAD – DAY.
Sethe enters and runs through the house to the kitchen;
Paul? Paul, you home?…
Paul sits in a tub under the white staircase. He smiles.
Sethe is relieved…grateful to find him there, for her.
Where else would I be on a Sunday off?
Sethe smiles, almost in tears.
Why don’t you come on in here?
Paul D. What if the girls came in?
I don’t hear nobody.
I have to cook.
Paul D. stands up in the tub and holds Sethe against his wet,
What you gonna cook?
(loving his body and his
I thought I’d make some snap beans.
Fry up a little corn?
He kisses her – and that’s exactly what she wanted.
I’m right here baby.
Thank you Lord.
Camera slowly moves out of the kitchen as Sethe and Paul
begin to make love, revealing;
Beloved watching from the doorway, unknown to Sethe or Paul.
She is disgusted, envious…and runs out..
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE ROAD – DAY.
Beloved runs out of the house and heads back for the woods.
She passes Denver as if she weren’t there.
EXT. STREAM IN THE WOODS – DAY.
Beloved reaches the stream and steps in. She begins to
violently hit the water around her, then begins hitting her
own face and head, clawing at it as if to escape from the
boundaries of flesh. Suddenly she submerges herself
underwater and holds herself there, as if to drown herself…
She bursts out of the water, gasping for air…Slowly, her
rage subsides, replaced with a calm, ruthless understanding
EXT. THE FIELD OF 124 BLUESTONE RD.- DAY.
Beloved is walking back toward the house. She stops.
She looks back at the house to the kitchen window – knowing
Paul and Sethe are in there. She approaches the kitchen
window and looks in.
POV – Sethe is drying off Paul’s body and rebuttoning her
Camera moves slowly into a C.U. of Beloved, this time her
focus is on Paul.
INT. 124 BLUESTONE ROAD – EVENING.
The inhabitants eat dinner in silence.
Denver awaits a look from Beloved. As Beloved passes her a
bowl of peas with a smile, Denver is satisfied.
Beloved then turns to Paul, offering him the bowl.
You have brothers or sisters?
Caught off guard, Paul looks to Sethe – whose expression asks
him to be nice.
We don’t talk about that.
Sethe told us you been walking for
eighteen years. Where you been all that
Paul is about to get mad when he looks to Sethe again, reels
it back in and answers curtly, but politely;
Lots of places. I don’t remember them
all. Don’t remember much about anything.
You be surprised what you start
remembering once you start talking.
Hearing his own words echoed back to him, annoys him.
Well not me. What’s gone is gone. No good
come from bringing it back.
Pause. Paul focuses on his dinner, suddenly ill at ease. He
can’t help looking, covertly, at Beloved and finds Beloved
staring right back at him…It makes him shiver.
INT. SETHE’S BEDROOM – NIGHT.
Sethe is asleep.
Paul is restless – tossing and turning as we Intercut;
Dream Images flashing across his mind…
– RAIN POURING DOWN A TRENCH. A MUDDY POOL FORMING AROUND A
BLACK MAN’S FEET.
– IRON CHAINS FED INTO METAL ANKLE CUFFS.
– PAUL D. ON HIS KNEES BEFORE A WHITE GUARD crotch.
WHITE GUARD (OS)
YOU HUNGRY NIGGER?
INT. KITCHEN – DAWN.
Sethe enters to find Paul asleep in the rocker by the stove.
She stirs him.
I called you two or three times but I
gave up round midnight. I thought maybe
you went out somewhere.
Damn. I’m sorry honey…
I’ll make some breakfast – you get
yourself washed up.
Sethe begins to make breakfast as Beloved enters the kitchen
and sees Paul has slept in the rocker. She looks at him with
a smile, as if she knows more than she’s letting on. Paul
registers the look.
INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT.
Paul is asleep in the rocker…He is restless…HE DREAMS:
EXT. A ROAD IN VIRGINIA – DAY.
Paul is chained by the ankles to forty-five other men. He
hands are shackled. In his mouth, an iron bit…
The men are being led by WHITE GUARDS with rifles.
Camera follows them under a burning sun as they approach;
A TRENCH. One thousand feet long. Five feet deep. Five feet
Camera tilts down to reveal, within the trench;
WOODEN BOXES, with scrap limber roofs and a door of bars
fitted on them like a cage that opens up to a wall of red
dirt stretching two feet above the top of the bars themselves.
INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT.
Paul awakens…his face and body drenched in sweat.
EXT. FIELD BETWEEN 124 AND THE STOREROOM – NIGHT.
Paul D. walks across the field with a thin blanket over his
nightclothes – walking toward the storeroom.
In the window of her bedroom, Sethe watches him – sensing he
is moving further and further away from her.
In the window of Denver’s room, Beloved watches Paul as well –
with a pleased expression.
EXT. A FIELD IN GEORGIA – DAY.
A RIFLE SHOT. A WHITE GUARD SHOUTS;
EXT. TRENCH – DAY.
Three white Men walk along the trench unlocking the cage
doors one by one…
One by one, the Black men emerge and stand in a line in the
When all are assembled, A SECOND RIFLE SHOT signals them to
climb out of the trench to the ground above.
Waiting for them above the trench, is one thousand feet of
chain. Each Black Man bends over and waits as the First Man
on line threads the chain through his leg iron, passing it to
the second and so on…
As they connect each other to the chain, Camera Pans down the
line of men and while not a word is spoken, WE HEAR THEIR
THOUGHTS…thoughts to themselves, or, if possible, through
their eyes to the man beside them:
BLACK MAN ONE
I’m a make it..
BLACK MAN TWO
New man. New man…
BLACK MAN THREE
Steady now, steady.
BLACK MAN FOUR
Help me… this mornin’s bad.
THE BLACK MEN ARE CHAINED AND KNEELING IN A STRAIGHT LINE.
The White Guards walk passed them. one White Guard stops in
front of the man beside Paul D. He turns to him.
Breakfast? Want some breakfast nigger?
BLACK MAN ONE
BLACK MAN ONE
Here you go.
The White Guard unzips his fly and undoes his pants and moves
a step closer to the Black Man’s mouth.
Paul D. looks ahead, trembling…He vomits…The Guard steps
away as another Guard steps in and hits Paul on the shoulder
with a rifle..
EXT. FIELD – DAY.
The Black Men work…sledge hammers in hand…
As they work, miraculously, THEY SING..”They sing about the
women they knew, the children they had been…they sing of
bosses and masters and misses…of mules and dogs and the
shamelessness of life…They sing of sisters long gone. They
sing love songs to Death.”
INT. TRENCH – NIGHT.
A torrential downpour. The men in the wooden cages watch the
rain filling the trench, corroding the red dirt wall around
Bugs and human debris swirl around their legs and feet. Mud
covering them through the cracks of the scrap lumber roof.
Some finds rest. other’s minds are long gone.
Camera finds Paul…HE IS SCREAMING. But there is no sound
coming from his mouth. Tears flow down his face, but when he
touches them, he realizes;
They are tears of mud. He looks up and the wooden planked
roof is breaking under the power of the rain..He looks down
and the water is up to his thighs.
Suddenly, the chain linking his feet is pulled and he is
knocked down..He gets up, searches through the mud for the
chain and notices it’s slack..He pulls as well….
One by one the men in the boxes realize the chain’s end is
being undone by the rain, as camera tracks down towards the
last box to the dirt wall, into which the chain has been
locked…It is giving way within the muddy wall.
THE MEN BREAK THROUGH THE ROTTED WOOD ROOFS TO FREEDOM…
AS THE MEN CLIMB OUT OF THE MUDDY COFFINS, GRASPING FOR A
HOLD, CRAWLING WITH EVERY MUSCLE OF THEIR BODIES – TO GET OUT
OF THE TRENCH before mud and water drown them….
Paul climbs with the will of ten men, with every ounce of
strength he has left…
END of MEMORY.
CUT BACK TO:
INT. COLD ROOM – A WINTER NIGHT.
Paul D. is wide awake. The memories won’t let him sleep.
Winter has arrived and the night is cold. He lies underneath
a thin blanket in yet another sleeping place, even further
from the house. He adds newspapers under and around his body
to stay warm.
He looks as if he has given up on sleeping altogether. He
hears the door to the cold room open. But he does not turn to
What do you want in here?
Beloved enters the cold room.
I want you to touch me on the inside part
and call me my name.
She hoists up her skirt and turns her head away.. Paul stares
at a silver lard can so as not to look.
When good people take you in and treat
you good, you ought to try to be good
back. You don’t….Sethe loves you. Much
as her own daughter. You know that.
(drops her skirt)
She don’t love me like I love her. I
don’t love nobody but her.
Then what you come in here for?
I want you to touch me on the inside
Ever since you come here – feel like I
got a new devil to face.
You have to touch me. On the inside part.
And you have to call me my name.
Ain’t no chains on me no more. I don’t
have to do nothing…Now, go back in that
house and go to bed.
Paul continues to stare at the lard can – like Lot’s wife,
he’s fearful what turning to look will do.
Call me my name.
Beloved moves closer, right up behind him, entwining her arms
around his body, like chains..
No. Ain’t no chains on me…
…Ain’t no chains on me…
I’ll go if you say it.
Tears well up in his eyes. Paul can feel her warmth. He
Beloved presses her body against his. He turns and grabs her,
kissing her with a passion bordering on hatred.
EXT. COLD HOUSE – NIGHT.
Denver sits outside the cold house – and listens to the
sounds of lovemaking. And cries.
INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT.
Sethe, Denver, Paul and Beloved eat dinner…in silence.
INT. COLD HOUSE – ANOTHER NIGHT.
Beloved is wrapping her body with a blanket as Paul lies on
his bed of newspapers – their lovemaking finished. Beloved
gives him a final look – no tenderness or affection or even
friendliness. Just a cold look, void of respect or even
She exits the cold house, leaving Paul alone. He is on the
verge of tears.
INT. SETHE’S BEDROOM – NIGHT.
Paul stands above the sleeping Sethe – his guilt driving him
mad. He wants to touch her, to wake her, to ask for
forgiveness and help. But he can not and buries his head in
EXT. SAWYER RESTAURANT – LATE AFTERNOON.
Paul waits outside in the cold, cupping his hands and
breathing inside to keep them warm. He is rehearsing:
Look here Sethe..You ain’t gonna like
what I got to say but I got to say
it…See, it’s not the..a man
can’t…what I mean is, it ain’t really
me..see, it ain’t weakness, the kind of
weakness I can fight, that girl is doing
it. I know you think I never liked her
nohow, still don’t, but she is doing it
to me anyway. Fixing me, Sethe, she’s
fixed me and I can’t break it…
Sethe appears, exiting the back door of the restaurant with a
scrap pan in the crook of her arm. To her surprise. she finds
Paul waiting for her.
Man, you make me feel like a young girl,
you coming by to pick me up after work.
Nobody ever did that before. Better watch
out, I might start looking forward to it.
She tosses the bones and skins from the scrap pan into a heap
before four dogs who wait there as if by appointment.
Got to rinse this out.
She enters the restaurant. Paul watches the dogs eat –
watching them getting what they wanted. Sethe re-appears with
a cloth over her head.
You get off early or what?
I took off early.
Anything the matter?
In a way of speaking.
Not cut back?
No, no. They got plenty of work with them
pigs..More they can handle. I just..
You ain’t gonna like what I’m about to
Sethe steps forward to hear what Paul came to tell her. There
is no apprehension or anger in her look. Instead, a calm
resolve – as if she were already able to accept whatever he
had to tell her without it being anyone’s fault. As if she
already knew he cane to say he was leaving her. She smiles.
Well say it, Paul D…whether I like it
Paul knows what she’s expecting. And when he sees her
diminished expectation, the melancholy without blame in her
eyes….he can’t tell her about Beloved. He is filled with
respect and admiration for her in that moment. Something pops
into his head and out of his mouth that wasn’t planned;
I want you pregnant, Sethe. Would you do
that for me?
Sethe breaks up with laughter. Paul joins in.
You came by here to ask me that!? You are
one crazy-headed man. You right; I don’t
like it!…Don’t you think I’m a little
too old to start that all over again?
She slips her fingers into his.
Think about it.
Paul lifts them, putting the tips of her fingers on his
cheek. He smiles broadly;
She laughs, shaking her head. A burden transformed into a
gift, so suddenly. They begin walking.
Sethe and Paul catch and snatch each other’s fingers,
stealing quick pats on the behind, joyfully. Paul throws his
arm around Sethe and squeezes. She lets her head touch his
chest. They stop and stay that way for a moment – not
breathing. Sethe closes her eyes. Paul looks up to the trees
lining the roadside like defending arms against attack.
Softly, suddenly, it begins to snow. Sethe opens her eyes:
EXT. BLUESTONE ROAD – EARLY EVENING.
On the road towards 124, Paul and Sethe run hand in hand.
Snow falling all around them.
I been on my feet all day, Paul D.
Where I been? Sitting down!?
Stop! I don’t have the legs for this!
They slow to a walk.
Then give’em to me.
Before she can stop him, Paul hoists Sethe up over his
You need some babies..somebody to play
with in the snow.
I sure would like to give it a try. Need
a willing partner though.
I’ll say..Very, very willing.
They continue laughing and moving down Bluestone Road when
they are jolted by the appearance of;
Beloved. Waiting in her usual place for Sethe. Her hands
wrapped in a long shawl, waiting to be given to Sethe. Her
eyes only on Sethe, not even acknowledging Paul’s presence.
Sethe gets herself down from Paul.
Crazy girl. You out here with nothing on.
She takes the shawl from Beloved’s hands and wraps it around
You got to learn more sense than that.
She walks on ahead with Beloved. Paul, suddenly icy cold and
filled with anger, walks behind.
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE ROAD – NIGHT.
Denver waits on the porch. Sethe and Beloved walk by her.
Sethe and Beloved enter the house. As Paul approaches, he
stops before Denver. Their eyes meet. Paul stares at her, as
if to ask – “Who’s ally are you?”…Denver, unnerved by his
look, runs into the house. Paul waits on the porch until, a
moment later, Sethe re-appears.
Now I know you not sleeping out there
tonight, are you Paul D.?
(Paul doesn’t reply)
You come upstairs tonight. Where you
belong…and stay there.
As if healed by her strength, Paul’s face melts into relief.
INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT.
Denver is cleaning the dishes. Beloved sits like an angry,
upset five year old with her fingers in her mouth.
She likes him here…
Make him go away.
She’d be mad if he leaves.
Beloved didn’t consider that. Her fingers move violently in
her mouth as if something were bothering her…until,
finally, she pulls out a back tooth…her lips slightly
OOoo..didn’t that hurt you?
It’s like my dreams…I get two dreams,
see..One, I exploding…BUUOOGGG…The
other I being swallowed. Sometimes it’s
hard to keep my head on my neck, or these
legs connected to my hips…One day I
think I might wake up and I’ll be in
(Looks at tooth)
Maybe it’s starting.
(cleans Beloved’s mouth)
Oh stop. It’s just a tooth. Probably
wisdom. Does it hurt?
Then why don’t you cry?
If it hurts, why don’t you cry?
Beloved, eases herself into Denver’s arms, and cries…
EXT. WINDOW OF 124 – NIGHT.
We see Sethe and Paul united as the snow begins to pile up.
INT. SETHE’S BEDROOM – LATER THAT NIGHT.
Sethe lies with Paul, in the dark, her face looking up to the
ceiling. Paul is asleep.
On her face are reservations. She rises, crossing to the
window to look out.
At the same time, Beloved appears silently at the doorway of
the room, looking at Sethe – hurt and sad. She walks by
without Sethe noticing her.
Sethe takes a breath at the window, watching the snow fall.
Then, as she moves back to the bed,…
Camera moves ahead of her to:
A DIFFERENT BED IN WHICH HALLE IS TRYING TO FALL ASLEEP. A
YOUNGER SETHE CRAWLS IN BESIDE HIM.
WE ARE IN MEMORY;
INT. HALLE & SETHE’S SWEET HOME LIVING QUARTERS – NIGHT.
Sethe, Halle and the baby girl (Beloved) sleep together by
the wall. The boys sleep together under a window. Halle is
trying to sleep but Sethe is awake…
What you think about Schoolteacher?
He white, ain’t he?
I mean, is he different like Mr. Garner
How was he different?
Well, he and Mrs. Garner – they ain’t
like other whites I seen before.
Mr. Garner always spoke soft, for one.
Mrs. Garner too.
Don’t matter. Loud or soft, what they
say is the same.
Mr. Garner let you buy out your mother.
Found that house for her to live in from
those friends of his in Ohio…
Yep. He did.
If he hadn’t, she would have dropped in
his cooking stove.
Still, he did it. Let you work off her
fee, lending yourself out on Sundays. He
could of said no. He didn’t tell you no.
No, he didn’t tell me no. She worked here
ten years. If she worked another ten, ya
think she would have made it? I pay him
for her last years and in return he got
you, me and three more coming..
He always treated you fair. Called you
all men – said he never wanted niggers on
That’s just it. We was men because he
said so. We was men because we was on his
land. You think he be calling us men if
we ever walked off his land?
When we walk, don’t matter what they call
you. You’ll be free.
Sethe..baby girl, that ain’t gonna
happen. Not by walking, anyway.
What you mean?
Schoolteacher in there told me to quit
lending myself out.
That phrase “..while the boys is small”..causes Sethe to look
at her sleeping boys..
But..then..how you gonna buy yourself
out? Or them?
(points to the children)
Halle raises himself up to face her, to give her the final blow.
Ain’t gonna be no buying us out, like I
did with mama. Or them. As far as
Schoolteacher concerned, ain’t no other
life ahead for any of us but this one.
Sethe understands, looks to her sleeping children and is
Halle….what we going to do?
Sixo, ya know he creeps out at night..he
says the way they took my ma’am..he says
freedom is that way. He and Paul A. got a
plan. They heard of this man, what they
call an underground agent…if we do what
he says, don’t need no buy out.
You mean…? But what if we caught?
What’d they do to us? To the children?
Same thing they’re doing now, honey –
EXT. SWEET HOME – A DAY REMEMBERED.
Sethe carries a big basket of berries as young Howard and
Bulgar run ahead of her. She turns in the opposite direction
and walks along the side of the house to the back entrance of
She passes the open window of the classroom and hears;
Which one are you doing?
Hearing her name, Sethe stops and peeks through the window.
Schoolteacher is standing over the student, who has been
writing in a notebook. Schoolteacher licks his finger and
thumbs a couple of pages before saying;
No, no. That’s not the way. I told you to
put her human characteristics on the
left; her animal ones on the right. And
don’t forget to line them up.
Although Sethe doesn’t entirely understand, something about
the words disturb her. She looks to her children.
INT. MRS. GARNER’S BEDROOM – A DAY REMEMBERED.
Mrs. Garner is sick in bed with a goiter. Sethe enters with
I don’t think I can swallow that.
Too thick. I’m sure it’s too thick.
Want me to loosen it up with a little
No. Take it away. Bring me some cool
water, that’s all.
Sethe helps her drink a glass of cold water.
Yes, you can have quite a few.
Mmmm. Thank you Sethe. Now tell me, I
know Halle’s no trouble but the others,
the Pauls and Sixo – how’s my brother-in-
law handling them? All right?
Yes Ma’am. Look like it.
They do what he tells them?
They don’t need telling.
Good. That’s a mercy. I know he’s no Mr.
Garner. But after he died, I had no else
to turn to. I would’ve had to sell one.
It wasn’t even enough selling Paul F. And
in my condition. I needed help. People
said I shouldn’t be alone here with
nothing but Negroes. And he is a learned
man being a schoolteacher…
As Sethe fills Mrs. Garner’s basin with fresh water, she
looks out the window and sees:
SCHOOLTEACHER outside with his students, we notice HE WEARS A
VERY DISTINCTIVE HAT as Mrs. Garners description continues;
…I know his ways might be a little more
strict but as long as the men do as
they’re told I’m sure it’ll be fine. All
right, I’m through.. Talking makes me
INT. BARN – A NIGHT REMEMBERED.
Sethe lies beaten and raped, her clothes torn, her body
aching and sweaty. She struggles to get to her feet and exit
INT. HALLE AND SETHE’S LIVING QUARTERS – NIGHT.
Sethe opens the door to find her children asleep. She is
about to wake them when;
She notices Mrs. Garner’s light is on in her bedroom window.
Sethe, blind with rage, decides there’s one thing she must do
before she takes her children to the meeting place.
INT. MRS. GARNER’S BEDROOM – NIGHT.
Mrs. Garner lies ailing through a sleepless night when her
bedroom door opens. Sethe enters – her appearance tells all.
My God Sethe..what happened to you?
EXT. SWEET HOME – NIGHT.
Sethe carried her baby girl in one arm, her two boys by the
hand with the other…They move as fast as they can.
EXT. CORN FIELD – NIGHT.
They arrive at the meeting place where A WOMAN crouching in
the field is waiting.
Hurry up. You’re late.
(hands her the children)
Just go with her! Do what I tell ya!
Sethe carefully hands her baby girl to the woman.
Put sugar water on that cloth for her to
suck so she won’t forget me til I come.
Where you going?
Halle wasn’t there. I gotta go back.
Take em out. Now! I’ll get there myself.
I got her milk…I’ll get there…Don’t
She kisses her baby girl, a little too hard perhaps, waking
her…along with the boys…
Sethe disappears back into the corn field leaving the Woman
holding the baby girl… as Bulgar cries out.
EXT. CORN FIELD CLOSER TO SWEET HOME HOUSE – NIGHT.
Sethe exits the corn field and heads for her living quarters
THE FOUR BOYS appears from out of nowhere..two restraining
her, one holding a horsewhip….
BOY WITH HORSEWHIP
You nigger bastard..
Sethe struggles and is about to scream out when she is
slapped and muffled and dragged into the corn field to be
END OF MEMORY;
INT. SETHE’S BEDROOM – NIGHT.
Sethe awakens, sweating from having fallen asleep and
reliving her past nightmare. She sits up and realizes where
she is. She looks beside her and sees Paul asleep. She lays
down, pressing her body against his so that there is no space
between – enfolding her arms around him.
EXT. PIG SLAUGHTERHOUSE – DAY.
Pigs are crying in the chute as Paul, Stamp Paid and twenty
other workers push and prod them towards the slaughterhouse.
Although steeped in pig shit on a wintry day – his hands numb
from the cold – Paul D. is in high spirits. HE SINGS as he
works much to the amusement of his fellow co-workers.
Hey – you like this work so much maybe
you best get in the chute with the
others. You ain’t got much more sense
than they do.
The men laugh. Paul smiles and brushes it off.
Ain’t just a job reason to sing. Other
things a man’s got to look forward to
that a job just a way to spend your day
til the good times arrive.
Good times? Ain’t no such day.
Now, now…it’s all a state a mind, right
Paul D. If you can think it, it can
More than that. When a man can make plans
then a man can make good times happen.
Oh the man’s got plans! You saving up for
a gold mine, boy.
Better then gold, my friend. Me and my
woman’s planning on starting a family.
Stamp Paid’s face registers sudden concern.
New life. Born free, hear! Now if that
don’t define a good tine, I don’t know
Nothing born free ever again.
What you talkin? Nobody owns us no more.
Nobody gonna own my children neither.
Children inherit what come before’em.
Just cause you can’t see no chains, don’t
mean they not there. We’re not free men.
We’re somewhere between freedom and
chains. And as long as the world is
white, that’s where we’re stayin.
The truth of this causes the men to be silent as they
continue working. Stamp Paid looks at Paul, confused by what
he should do.
EXT. PIG SLAUGHTERHOUSE – LATER THAT DAY.
The men are on break. Paul sits alone enjoying a lunch packed
by Sethe…Stamp Paid approaches and sits beside him.
Free country. No matter what anybody says.
I like the way you think, boy. Good. Good
to think that way. Friend of mine, Baby
Suggs was her name…sort of became a
preacher in these parts..that was her way
of thinking too. When she was at her
best, that is.
You knew Baby Suggs?
Oh yes…You’re not one of her Sweet Home
men, now are you?
Yes sir…Me and my brothers and her son.
Oh, I see now.
Sethe told me she died soft as cream.
Well…maybe on the outside.
Why is that?
Stamp Paid looks at him with sympathetic, sudden
You don’t know, son, do you? See I had to
figure that out first.
Stamp Paid pulls out AN OLD NEWSPAPER CLIPPING from a bag he
carries with him all the time. He hands it to Paul who looks
A DRAWING OF A YOUNG BLACK WOMAN beneath a HEADLINE; MURDER!
RUNAWAY SLAVE KILLS CHILD….
Who is it?
That there’s a picture of Sethe.
Nah, that ain’t her mouth. I can see
where you might think it around the eyes
but that there ain’t her mouth. Besides,
why would some black woman’s picture be
in the paper?
You don’t read son, do you?
(Paul shakes head NO)
You want me to read to you?
Paul senses something terribly wrong…and doesn’t know
whether to say yes or no.
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – EARLY EVENING.
Sethe is sweeping the porch.
Paul appears on the road. When he sees Sethe on the porch in
the distance, he stops.
Sethe sees him and smiles – but something about his slow
approach to the house sends off an alarm within her.
Paul makes his way to the porch. He stops before her.
Already fed the girls. You eat?
(he shakes NO)
Paul doesn’t answer. Instead, he steps up to her as he
removes the clipping from his pocket and hands it to her.
Sethe’s heart stops beating for a moment – not having seen
this image for many years. But she’s survived worse than the
telling so she faces him.
Best you come inside.
She rises and enters the house. Paul follows.
INT. KITCHEN – EARLY EVENING.
Paul sits at the table. Sethe begins her story seated before
I don’t have to tell you about Sweet
Home. What it was. But maybe you don’t
know what it was like for me to get away
She looks for a response but expects none.
I did it. I got us all out. Without Halle
too. Up til then it was the only thing I
ever did on my own. Decided. And it came
off right like it was supposed to..
She rises and begins to move about the room, circling Paul
as she tries to find a way to explain it all;
We was here. Each and every one of my
babies and me too. I birthed them and I
got ‘em out and it wasn’t no accident. I
did that! I had help, of course, lots of
that, but still it was me doing it; me
saying, “Go on” and “Now!”. Me having to
look out. Me using my own head. But it
was more than that. It was a kind of
…’thinking-about-myself’ I never knew
nothing about before. It felt good. Good
and right. I was big, Paul, and deep and
wide and when I stretched out my arms all
my children could get in between. I was
that wide. Look like I loved them more
after I got them here. Or maybe I
couldn’t love’em proper in Sweet Home
‘cause they wasn’t mine to love. But when
I got here, when I jumped off that wagon –
there wasn’t nobody in the world I
couldn’t love if I wanted to….
MEMORY… as SETHE NARRATES:
I had 28 days…28 good days of free
INT. SETHE’S ROOM AT 124 – A DAWN REMEMBERED.
Sethe, out of habit, is awake before the sun has risen. She
is fully dressed.
…of getting up like I always did,
getting dressed before the sun came out,
and then realizing I had to decide myself
what to do with the day…
She sits on the bed, watching the sun rise.
INT. THE CHILDREN’S ROOM – CONTINUOUS.
Sethe watches her children sleeping, safely.
…Days of watching my children sleep
away the morning…And taking care of my
baby like it was the most important thing
I had to do…
Denver is asleep in a bassinet. Sethe reaches in and picks
her up. She sits by a window and breast feeds her as she hums
A MELODY. (This is the same melody we heard Sethe humming in
the beginning of the film).
Sethe’s melody carries itself over the following images;
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE ; WATER PUMP – DAY.
Sethe is carrying a bucket of water to the house. She sees:
Bulgar and Howard running and playing. Howard tackles his
brother and starts tickling him. The two boys laugh hard.
Sethe watches, a moment of fear across her face;
I’d hear my boys laughing a laugh I ain’t
never heard. And for a second I’d get
scared – scared someone might hear them
and get mad…
Sethe realizes, placing down the bucket:
Then I remembered…and if they laughed
that hard til it hurt, that would be the
only hurt they had all day….
Sethe sobs, uncontrollably.
INT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – DAY.
Ella teaches Sethe a new stitch as she chatters on.
We had us days of company…
EXT. FIELD – DAY.
Another woman teaches Sethe the alphabet, as Sethe cradles
Denver and the Little Girl (Beloved) crawls around her feet.
INT. KITCHEN – DAY.
Baby Suggs and Sethe cook with a kitchen full of men and
women who have come for a visit.
…of ease and real talk. Talks about the
Fugitive Bill, Dred Scott or book
learning…Talks as quiet or as stormy as
Two men get into an argument to the amusement of the women.
EXT. CLEARING IN THE WOODS – DAY.
As folks gather to hear Baby Suggs preach, she introduces a
smiling, shy Sethe to each one.
…And when everyone would gather to hear
Baby Suggs, I saw something I ain’t never
seen before in my whole life…
Alone for a moment, Sethe looks around at the crowd of faces;
Sethe’s Melody stops as Baby Suggs stands on her rock and
calls to the crowd:
Let the children come!
FROM OUT OF THE WOODS, CHILDREN RUN INTO THE CLEARING.
Camera follows the joyous exodus to reveal:
THE CLEARING IS FILLED WITH ADULTS the entire black
community of the days when Sethe first arrived. The children
run to their respective families;
Let your mother’s hear you laugh!!
The children, loving the game, laugh hard. The adults get a
kick out of it.
Sethe watches her boys and hides her laughter.
Let the grown men come!!
OUT OF THE WOODS, A GROUP OF GROWN MEN COME INTO THE CLEARING.
LET YOUR WIVES AND YOUR CHILDREN SEE YOU
The men form a circle and dance as the crowd supports them
with a clapping rhythm. A SONG arises from the women to
accompany to dance….
Now…you women…I want you to cry. For
the living. For the dead….Just cry.
Camera follows those women who are not singing as one by one,
they remember and weep…
Sethe watches…and weeps.
….Something in me knew Halle was never
gonna knock on our door. He was never
gonna see what I saw that day. I saw what
men look like…and I saw mothers, for
the first time.
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – DAY.
Stamp Paid walks up to the porch carrying a TWO BIG BASKETS
OF BLACKBERRIES … his body dirty, scratched and bleeding.
I think it was Stamp Paid who started it.
He walked six miles to the riverbank,
slid into a ravine, reached through blood
drawing thorns, suffered mosquitoes,
wasps and the meanest lady spiders in the
State just to bring us those berries.
He places the baskets on the porch in front of Baby Suggs,
Sethe who is holding Denver..and the Little Girl (Beloved).
What a sight you are, Stamp.
Worth it though. Just one bite of these
berries and you feel down right anointed.
He puts one into Denver’s mouth.
She’s too little for that, Stamp. Her
bowels be soup.
It’ll sickify her stomach..Now go wash up
round back…crazy fool..
It was real nice of him.
He’s a good one, no doubt of that. I can
get three, maybe four pies out of this.
Seems a shame just for us though. I’m
gonna invite Ella and John over…
How ‘bout if I make a couple of chickens
to back it up?
And that’s how it began…
INT. KITCHEN – DAY.
Sethe and Baby Suggs and Ella and several other women cook.
…Three pies became twelve…two hens
became five turkeys…
EXT.THE FIELD/124 BLUESTONE RD. – EVENING.
Various images of people gathered enjoying food and
drink…laughing and singing…
…and Ella and John turned into almost
– Women serving up the food…
– Older men sitting and talking as they eat…
– Younger men playing with the children. Chasing them with
sheets on their backs, scaring them into laughter..
– A Man with a guitar playing a blues song and singing.
While Sethe enjoys her free life and, most of all, her
children – the boys running around her..Denver in her
arms..Her Little Girl (Beloved) by her side.. Baby Sugg’s
visits with various guests, serving up the food…
… Everybody ate so well and laughed so
INTERCUT; Images of whispers exchanged between some of the
…it made them angry…
Women head to head with a remark or an eye of disapproval
towards Baby Suggs as she continues cooking and feeding….
The pies, the turkeys…the bread pudding
and shortbread..the one whole block of
ice brought all the way from Cincinnati –
it made ‘em mad…Loaves and fishes were
Jesus’s powers…they did not belong to
an ex-slave who never had a white boy
beat her, who had her freedom bought, who
rented a house from white folks that
hated slavery worse than they hated
slaves…It made’em furious – her
thoughtless generosity and un-called for
pride…She had over stepped…offended
them by giving too much…and they left
their disapproval there so’s you could
smell in the air the whole next day…
EXT. THE FIELD/ 124 BLUESTONE RD. – THE FOLLOWING DAY.
Baby Suggs works the field, not far from Stamp Paid…
Later on I wondered why no one warned
us…why no one saw them coming and ran
to 124 to tell us…
She chops at the soil over the roots of the pepper plants.
She stops – sensing something is wrong. She looks up at a
clear blue sky…She hears the birds and the stream way down
beyond the woods..
She looks around and sees Bulgar, Howard and the Little Girl
(Beloved) playing with loud voices by the side of the house.
She sees Sethe squatted in the pole beans with Denver in a
bushel basket beside her.
The clok, clok of wood being chopped causes her to look over
to Stamp Paid, helping out with the axe…
She returns to her work…but something is deeply wrong.
And then she hears it;
THE SOUND OF HORSES and A HORSE DRAWN WAGON coming from the
distance. (The same sound Sethe heard in her first memory of
the sycamores earlier on)
She rises up and looks;
EXT. BLUESTONE ROAD – DAY.
Far in the distance, FOUR HORSEMEN ARE RIDING TOWARD THEM.
ONE DRIVES A WAGON and IS WEARING A DISTINCTIVE HAT – IT IS
CUT BACK TO:
EXT. THE FIELD OF 124 BLUESTONE – DAY.
Sethe continues working until she notices peripherally that
Baby Suggs is standing stock still, staring at something.
Sethe rises and looks in the same direction;
CUT BACK TO:
EXT. BLUESTONE ROAD – DAY.
The Four Horsemen are closer…
CUT BACK TO:
EXT. THE FIELD OF 125 BLUESTONE – DAY.
Sethe’s face freezes in terror as …
Stamp Paid, in between chops, looks up and sees the two
women..then turns his face to see the men.
BUT IT IS SETHE’S FACE WE CONCENTRATE ON – AS WE INTERCUT THE
ONCOMING APPROACH OF THE FOUR HORSEMEN and HEAR HER WORDS:
…There’s a Look whitefolks get..a Look
every Negro learns to recognize along
with his ma’am’s tit..That righteous Look
that’s like a flag going up the pole..the
righteousness that announces the whip,
the fist, the burning, the lie…long
before it happens in the open…
Over the above speech, we see in Sethe’s expression a death
of soul – an instantaneous loss of hope for possibilities of
joy and life. And with it, an insane rage.
Sethe grabs Denver out of the basket, then scrambles after
the crawling Little Girl (Beloved), scooping her under her
The tone of her voice cause the boys to freeze. She runs
towards them, grabbing one by the hand and ordering the other
to run in front of them. She moves and speaks with efficient
The shed!…Get in the shed!…Run!
Baby Suggs and Stamp Paid watch helplessly –
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE –
The Four Horsemen – Schoolteacher, his Nephew, a Slave
Catcher and a Sheriff – arrive at the house and dismount,
tying their horses to the front gate (which is no longer
The Nephew scampers to the front of the house and peers in
the window – he listens. Hearing nothing he motions for them
to go round the side of the house.
Camera follows them as it reveals Baby Suggs and Stamp Paid
standing exactly where we left them…Except;
They are both staring at the shed – out of which strange
noises, thuds and the FRIGHTENED CRIES OF CHILDREN are heard….
Two Black Boys and several Woman are coming up the road. The
Slave Catcher motions with his rifle for them to stop – and
The men move towards the shed, meeting up with the Nephew as
he runs past Baby Suggs and Stamp Paid…
Camera moves closer towards the shed, the sounds coning from
within more audible now…
INT. THE SHED –
The Nephew opens the door. The Four Men enter….
Howard and Bulgar are bleeding in the sawdust, unconscious –
a bloody shovel lays near them.
Sethe is holding a blood-soaked Little Girl (Beloved) to her
chest with one hand…and Denver by the heels of the other.
She is swinging Denver toward the wall planks, misses then
When out of nowhere, Stamp Paid rushes by the horrified white
men and GRABS DENVER OUT OF SETHE’S HAND before she can swing
her a second time…
Schoolteacher looks at the carnage…a bloody saw lies at
Sethe’s feet, the weapon she used on her own child’s throat.
The Nephew is paralyzed…horrified.
What she go and do that for?…What she
go and do that for?
Baby Suggs walks in. Whatever amount of God’s grace she could
imagine and will into being, vanishes with one look into that
You all better go on.
Nothing here to claim, I guess.
Look like your business is over. Mine’s
Schoolteacher beats his hat against his thigh and spits in
the shed before exiting, followed by the catcher and the
The Sheriff speaks to Sethe.
I’ll have to take you in. No trouble now.
You’ve done enough to last you….
Sethe doesn’t move.
You come quiet, here, and I won’t have to
tie you up.
Meanwhile, Baby Suggs notices who breathes and who does not
and moves straight to the boys….
Stamp Paid extends his arm to Sethe.
Sethe. You take my arm and gimme yours.
Sethe turns to him, the first time she’s looked into anyone’s
eyes and sees Denver in his arms…A sound escapes from her
throat as though she’d made a mistake.
I’m going out here and send for a wagon.
He exits. Baby Suggs rubs the boys’ hands, tries to raise
their eyelids, spits on her dress and wipes away the blood as
they slowly regain a dazed consciousness..She whispers;
I beg you pardon..I beg your pardon..
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. –
Sethe, clutching the dead baby to her chest, is led out of
the shed by Stamp Paid,
Outside, a throng of black faces have gathered who stop
murmuring the second they see her. Among them are Ella and
Lady Jones. They are shocked and pained.
Sethe is led past them to a waiting cart – in total silence.
Baby Suggs, at the same time, is getting the boys up the
porch into the house. When Denver cries in Stamp Paid’s arms,
she stops..lets the boys sit and runs towards the cart.
Sethe is seated in the cart beside the Sheriff. Baby Suggs
takes the crying Denver from Stamp Paid..She tells the
Excuse me..but the child needs
nursin..needs the mother’s milk..
Then she’s best come too.
Baby Suggs approaches Sethe who sees Denver crying and
reaches for her without letting the baby go. Baby Suggs
One at a time!…And you gotta clean
But Sethe only wants her living child. The two women struggle
as Stamp Paid does what he can..Finally, Sethe wins and takes
Denver with her free hand, undoes her dress and nurse’s her
with a bloody breast..
Baby Suggs breaks inside. Breaks right in two, although from
outwards appearances, she looks merely numbed by shock.
A WHITE BOY makes his way through the crowd with a pair of
shoes and hands them to her..
Mama says Wednesday. She says you got to
have them fixed by Wednesday.
Baby Suggs looks at him not understanding..
You hear, Baby? She says Wednesday.
(taking the shoes)
I beg your pardon..Lord, I beg your
pardon..I sure do….
PRESENT DAY (END OF MEMORY) :
INT. 124 BLUESTONE ROAD – NIGHT.
Paul D. sits at the kitchen table. The story told. Sethe
looks out the window…and waits..
Your love is too thick, Sethe.
Love is or it isn’t. Thin love ain’t love
at all…I did stop him. I took and put
my babies where they’d be safe…
Didn’t work though, did it?
How? Your boys gone, you don’t know
where. One girl dead, the other can’t go
farther than the yard. How did it work?
They ain’t at Sweet Home! Schoolteacher
Maybe there’s worse.
It ain’t my job to know what’s worse.
It’s my job to know what is and keep them
away from what I know is terrible. I did
What you did was wrong, Sethe.
I should have gone back there? Taken my
babies back there?
There could have been a way. Some other
You got two feet, Sethe. Not four!
That jumped out before he had a chance to choose saying it.
Sethe has no response…The distance between these two people
in this small room is suddenly vast.
Paul rises, playing with his hat…not knowing how to leave.
But desperately needing to. He moves to the exit and stops..
You can set aside supper for me… Might
be late getting back…
Unable to look at her, he turns to exit. When Sethe speaks in
a soft, forgiving tone, he stops to listen;
After all I told you, Paul D. and after
telling me how many feet I have, you
think saying goodbye is gonna break me
Paul turns to look at her and realizes she saw right through
You’re a sweet man.
Unable to bear it, Paul turns and leaves…
Sethe stands still, fighting tears, and whispers…
So long, Paul D.
INT. KITCHEN – DAY.
Sethe is scrubbing the floor, with Denver trailing by with
Beloved enters holding a pair of ice skates;
What do these do?
Sethe and Beloved look up. Sethe smiles;
My Lord…where’d you dig up those?
There for skating on the ice.
We have another pair and half of another,
Can we try them?
Sethe takes the skates and looks at them with a curious
Go ice skating? Ha…
You sure mama?
Strikes me that after your man leaves, it
might just be the wrong time to be
scrubbing floors… might just be the
perfect time to go ice skating.
Denver and Beloved register hopefulness in the light of
Sethe’s attitude. Sethe speaks to Denver;
Go get the shawls..and find me an old
shoe for that half a pair…
The girls get excited. Sethe tosses the scrub brush into the
EXT. A FROZEN CREEK – DAY.
A bright, cold winter day. Beloved wears a pair of old
skates. Denver wears the second pair and Sethe has one skate
and one shoe..The two girls giggle and fall as they try to
skate on the ice… helping each other up. Their skirts
whirling…their laughter mingled with screams of delight.
Sethe, wearing only shoes, watches them and laughs.
Come on, ma’am…try!
Sethe steps onto the ice and takes a few strides and promptly
falls on her rear. The girls scream with laughter. Sethe
tries to get up and falls, their laughter infecting her as
well. The girls try to help her and fall over each other in
Denver rises and tries an independent glide. The tip of her
skate hits a bump and she falls, flapping her arms wildly.
All three laugh so hard, they start coughing. Beloved goes to
Sethe rises up on her hands and knees, her laughter shaking
her chest and causing her eyes to tear in the cold air.
Beloved helps Denver, and falls as well. The two girls see
Sethe laughing and play it up even more, a few more times…
Until, Denver notices something and motions Beloved to stop
The two glide back to Sethe. Her laughter has stopped, but
her tears have not… They gently, comfortingly, touch her
INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT.
It is a snowy night outside the windows.
Sethe has laid out blankets and quilts in front of the fire
in the stove. She has made sweet milk that she hands to the
girls before taking her place in between them, on the floor,
facing the fire; Denver, on her right, rests her head on her
lap. Beloved sits on her left.
She looks over to Beloved who is staring at the fire. The
illumination highlights her beauty and her profile; the chin,
mouth, forehead – all copied and exaggerated in a huge shadow
the fire threw on the wall. Sethe can’t help but stare as
another thought occurs to her;
BABY SUGGS (V.O.)
…All I remember is how she loved the
bottom of burned bread. Her little
hands…I wouldn’t know ‘em if they
…”Here. Look here. See this mark? If
you can’t tell me by my face, look here.”
Beloved lifts her head towards the fire at the same time she
leans back to rest on a propped-up pillow. In the flickering
of the firelight, Sethe can see:
A SMILE OF A SCAR BENEATH HER CHIN.
Sethe knows before she’s aware of it consciously. And just as
it hits her, BELOVED BEGINS TO HUM A MELODY.
Sethe recognizes it as her own melody.
I made that song up. I made it up and
sang it to my children…
Denver lifts her head from her mother’s lap to look at Sethe,
knowing what is happening….
…Nobody knows that song but me and my
Beloved turns to Sethe;
I know it.
A click. Sethe looks at her daughter, returned. “There is no
gasp of astonishment – no exclaim for the miraculous. For
what is truly miraculous is so, because the magic lies in the
fact that you knew it was there for you all along.”
INT. KITCHEN – MORNING.
It’s snowy white outside. The girls are still asleep in front
of the stove. But Denver awakens upon hearing her mother load
the stove with dry wood and begin to cook breakfast. Sethe
hears her wake up and turns, as she beats eggs in a bowl;
OOh, yeah…Don’t know if it’s the floor
or the skating.
Could be that fall you took.
That was fun.
Beloved snores lightly beside her;
Should I wake her?
No, let her rest.
She likes to see you off in the morning.
I’ll make sure she does. But first I’m
going make up a nice, big breakfast
against that cold outside.
Won’t you be late for work?
Don’t matter. First time I’ll be late in
nine years. No great trouble..Whatever
goes on out there goes on with or without
me showing up on time… don’t matter…
(looks at the girls)
The world is in this room, baby. This is
all there is and all there needs to be.
Denver smiles – but it is a cautious smile. Something about
her mother’s statement both elates and disturbs her.
EXT. BLUESTONE RD. – DAY.
A conflicted and contrite Stamp Paid walks through the snow
down Bluestone road towards 124.
As he does, he remembers his last conversation with Baby
EXT. RICHMOND STREET – DAY.
A fall day. Leaves ankle high. Stamp Paid is walking when he
sees baby Suggs carrying a carpetbag full of repaired shoes.
He crosses over to her as he gets her attention;
You missed the Clearing meeting three
Baby Suggs turns to her old friend – but there is no sign of
welcome or recognition. There is a noticeable change in her
demeanor. She continues walking. He follows;
Folks come. Folks go.
Here, let me carry that.
He reaches for the carpetbag but Baby Suggs pulls it away.
I got a delivery around here. Name of
Yonder. Twin chestnuts in the yard.
They walk a bit, until;
This Saturday – you coming to Call or
If I call them, and they come what on
earth am I going to say to them.
Say the Word!
Two whitemen raking leaves look up at the sound of Stamp
Paid’s voice, which was too loud. So he whispers;
The Word. What you was put here to speak.
That’s the last thing they took from me.
But you got to do it. You got to. Can’t
nobody Call like you. You have to be
What I have to do is get in my bed and
lay down. I want to fix on something
harmless in this world.
What world are you talking about? Ain’t
nothing harmless down here.
Blue. That doesn’t hurt nobody. Yellow
You getting into bed to think about
I likes yellow.
Then what? When you get through with blue
and yellow, then what?
Can’t say. It’s something can’t be
You blaming God. That what you’re doing?
No, Stamp. I ain’t.
You saying whitefolks won. That what you
Those white things have taken all I had
or dreamed. I’m saying ain’t no bad luck
in this world ‘cept for white folks..They
just don’t know when to stop.
You saying nothing counts?
I’m saying they came into my yard.
You saying God give up? Nothing left for
us but pour out our own blood?
I’m saying they came into my yard.
You punishing Him, ain’t you?
Not like He punished me.
You can’t do that, Baby. It ain’t right.
Was a time I knew what was.
You still know.
What I know is what I see: a nigger woman
He stops her, before the Twin Chestnuts of the Tucker house.
We have to be steady. “These things too
will pass”. What you looking for? A
No. I’m looking for what I was put here
to look for: the back door.
They exchange a look of silence and finality. She turns and
walks to the back door of the house and knocks. A moment
later a White Woman appears, takes the carpetbag and keeps
Baby waiting on the back steps while she goes in for a dime.
Baby rests on the railing until the whitewoman returns.
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – DAY.
Now, Stamp Paid feels the need to find out what’s going on
inside 124 since he caused Paul to leave. He approaches the
porch, then the front door. He raises his hands to knock –
but he can’t bring himself to do it.
He turns to walk away then stops. He turns back and with a
force of will, KNOCKS LOUDLY upon the door. No answer. He
KNOCKS AGAIN. Still no answer.
He steps back, trying to sense if anyone’s there. He turns to
leave when he sees;
TWO HEADS in the window. Denver and Beloved. Denver bolts
away, but Beloved remains a moment longer – looking in Stamp
Paid’s eye, then disappearing into the house.
Stamp Paid is unnerved by her look.
INT. SAWYER’S RESTAURANT – LATE MORNING.
Sethe enters late, putting on her apron as SAWYER yells;
What the hell you thinking, girl?
Strolling in here this late?
Don’t talk to me, Mr. Sawyer. Don’t say
nothing to me this morning.
What? What? You talking back to me?
I’m telling you don’t say nothing to me.
Sethe begins organizing her counter to make pies.
You better get them pies made!
Sethe ignores him as she begins. Sawyer is at a loss.
Not too sweet! You make it too sweet they
don’t eat it.
Make it the way I always do.
Yeah. Too sweet.
INT. ELLA’S HOUSE – DAY.
Ella opens the front door for Stamp Paid. He looks disturbed.
Where you been keeping yourself? I told
John must be cold if Stamp stay inside.
Oh I been out.
Stamp takes off his hat and follows Ella, who is doing
laundry in the kitchen.
Was over to Baby Suggs.
What you want there? Somebody invite you
That’s Baby’s kin. I don’t need no invite
to look after her people.
Ella shrugs and continues folding wet laundry on a line
behind the stove. Stamp sits.
Somebody new there. A woman. Thought you
might know who she is.
Ain’t no new Negroes in this town I don’t
know about. What she look like? You sure
that wasn’t Denver?
I know Denver.
I know what I see.
Might see anything at all at 124.
Better ask Paul D.
Can’t locate him.
He’s sleeping in the church.
Yeah. Asked Rev. Pike if he could stay in
It’s cold as charity in there! What he do
that for? Any number’ll take him in.
Can’t nobody read minds long distance.
All he have to do is ask somebody.
Why? Why he have to ask? Can’t nobody
offer? What’s going on? Since when a
black man come to town have to sleep in
the cellar like a dog?!
Unrile yourself, Stamp. It’s only a few
days he been there.
NO! Shouldn’t be no days! You know all
about it and don’t give him a hand? That
don’t sound like you, Ella. Me and you
been pulling colored folk out the water
more’n twenty years! Now you tell me you
can’t offer a man a bed?! A working man
who can pay his own way?
He ask, I give him anything.
Why’s that necessary all of a sudden?
I don’t know him that well.
You know he’s colored? What else there to
Stamp, don’t tear me up this morning! I
don’t feel like it.
It’s her, ain’t it?
Sethe. He took up with her and stayed in
there and you don’t want nothing to-
Hold on! Don’t jump if you can’t see
Girl, give it up! We been friends too
long to act like this.
Beat. Ella knows he’s right. She surrenders the truth.
Well, who can tell what went on in there?
I never even knew who Sethe was or none
of her people.
You know she married Baby Suggs’ boy.
I ain’t sure I know that. Baby never laid
eyes on her till she showed up here. And
how’d she make it and her husband didn’t?
And where is he? And how she have that
baby in the woods by herself? Said a
whitewoman help her. Shoot. You believe
that? Well, I know what kind of white
Aw, no, Ella.
Anything white floating around in the
woods – if it don’t got a shotgun, it’s
something the Lord tells me I don’t want
no part of.
You was friends.
Till she showed herself.
I ain’t got no friends take a handsaw to
their own children.
What’s any of that got to do with Paul
What run him off? Tell me that!
I run him off.
I told him…Showed him the newspaper.
About Sethe. Read it to him. He left that
You didn’t tell me that. I thought he
He didn’t know nothing. And nobody.
Except her, from when they was at that
place Baby Suggs was at.
He knew Baby Suggs?
Sure he knew her. Her boy Halle, too.
And he left when he found out what Sethe
What you say casts a different light on
it, I guess…I thought-
Stamp knows what she thought.
But you didn’t come here talking ‘bout
Paul. You came asking about a new girl.
Well, Paul D. must know who she is. Or
what she is.
You mind loaded with spirits. Everywhere
you look you see one.
You know as well as I do, Stamp, that
people who die bad don’t stay in the
Stamp can not deny this.
EXT. BLUESTONE ROAD – EARLY EVENING.
Sethe is walking home to her daughters. There is a serene,
introverted expression on her face…as if she were detached
from the world around her, safe inside. We hear her thoughts:
Beloved, she my daughter…She mine. She
come back to me of her own free will and
I don’t have to explain a thing.. She had
to be safe and I put her where I knew she
would be. But my love was tough and she
back now. She come back to me in the
flesh…I won’t never let her go. I’ll
explain to her, even though I don’t have
to. Why I did it. How if I hadn’t killed
her she would have died and that is
something I couldn’t let happen to her.
When I explain she’ll understand, cause
she understands everything already..And
she ain’t even mad…When I put that
headstone up I wanted to lay in there
with you, put your head on my shoulder
and keep you warm and I would have if
Bulgar and Howard and Denver didn’t need
me, because my mind was homeless then. I
couldn’t lay down with you then. No
matter how much I wanted to. I couldn’t
lay down nowhere in peace, back then. Now
I can. I can sleep like the drowned, have
mercy. She come back to me, my daughter,
DENVER’S VOICE OVER FADES IN OVER SETHE’S….
SETHE (VO) DENVER
my Beloved and she Beloved is my
is mine…. sister…
..and she is mine…
INT. 124 BLUESTONE ROAD – EARLY EVENING.
Denver is cleaning the kitchen, waiting for her mother. We
hear her thoughts:
..I swallowed her blood right along with
my mother’s milk. She played with me and
always came to be with me whenever I
needed her. Me and her waited for our
daddy. I love her. I do. She never hurt
me. I love my mother but I know she
killed one of her own, and tender as she
is with me, I’m scared of her because of
it. All the time, I’m afraid the thing
that happened that made it all right to
kill her own, could happen again.
Whatever it is, it comes from outside
this house, outside the yard. So I never
leave this house and I watch over the
yard so it can’t happen again … I have
to keep it away from my sister…I’ll
protect Beloved…’Cause She’s mine…
BELOVED’S VO FADES IN OVER DENVER’S…
DENVER (VO) BELOVED (VO)
Beloved..She’s mine I am Beloved
and she is mine…
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – EARLY EVENING.
Beloved, waiting for Sethe to come home, sees her
approaching. We hear her thoughts:
I am not separate from her. There is no
place where I stop. Her face is my own
and I want to be there in the place where
her face is and to be looking at it
too…a hot thing..In the beginning I
could see her. I could not help her
because the clouds were in the way. But I
could see her. The shining in her ears. I
look hard at her so she will know that
the clouds are in the way..I cannot lose
her again. I see her face which is mine.
It is the face that was going to smile at
me in the place where we crouched before
I come up out of the blue water. Sethe’s
is the face that left me. Sethe’s sees me
in her and I see the smile. She is my
face smiling at me. It is the face I
lost. Now we can join..a hot thing.
Sethe comes to the waiting Beloved and smiles. She offers her
hand and Beloved rises. Denver exits to them and smiles. She
extends her hand to Beloved’s free hand. The three women
stand astride each other, arms around each other’s waist as
they walk toward the porch…
The dusk sunlight creates THREE SHADOWS – three figures
holding each other the way Sethe saw the shadows at the
carnival…Only they weren’t Hers, Denver’s and Paul’s…They
were Hers, Denver’s and Beloved’s….
INT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – EARLY EVENING.
The girls rush into the house, and down the hall.
Sethe enters. Then turns back to the door.
C.U. ; OF SETHE’S HAND LOCKING THE FRONT DOOR AS WE HEAR;
I AM BELOVED AND SHE IS MINE.. DENVER (VO)
SHE IS MINE…
OVER THE FOLLOWING CHORUS OF DIALOGUE, A MONTAGE OF
IMAGES DEPICTING SETHE, BELOVED AND DENVER CLOSING UP
THE HOUSE FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD – LOWERING SHADES,
LOCKING WINDOWS, BARRING DOORS…..
TELL ME THE TRUTH.. BELOVED (VO)
CANNOT LOSE HER AGAIN.
DID YOU COME FROM THE OTHER SIDE.
YES. I WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE.
YOU CAME BACK BECAUSE OF ME?
YOU NEVER FORGOT ME?
YOUR FACE IS MINE.
DON’T LOVE HER TOO MUCH.
DO YOU FORGIVE ME?
YOU HURT ME.
I WILL PROTECT YOU.
WILL YOU STAY?
WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME WHO AM YOU?
I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU AGAIN.
WATCH OUT FOR HER; SHE CAN GIVE YOU
WHERE ARE THE MEN WITHOUT SKIN?
OUT THERE. WAY OFF.
DADDY IS COMING FOR US.
CAN THEY GET IN HERE?
NO. THEY TRIED ONCE BUT I STOPPED THEM.
THEY WON’T EVER COME BACK…YOU MY BEST
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – EARLY EVENING.
CAMERA PULLS BACK FROM THE FRONT DOOR, NOW LOCKED AGAINST THE
WORLD, IN A SLOW MOVE….AS WE HEAR A BLEND OF THE THREE
WOMEN’S VOICES – THE OVERLAPPING, HAUNTED THOUGHTS OF THE
THREE WOMAN (VO)
BELOVED..YOU ARE MY SISTER..YOU ARE MY
DAUGHTER. YOU ARE MY FACE..YOU ARE ME..I
HAVE FOUND YOU AGAIN..I WAITED FOR
YOU..YOU ARE MY BELOVED. DON’T LOVE HER
TOO MUCH…YOU MY BEST THING.. YOU ARE
MINE..YOU ARE MINE..YOU ARE MINE…
BY THE TIME THE CAMERA REACHES BLUESTONE ROAD, THE VOICES ARE
MIXED, UNDECIPHERABLE YET AUDIBLE…
…AUDIBLE TO STAMP PAID, WHO STANDS ON BLUESTONE RD.
LISTENING TO THE HAUNTED VOICES OF 124. HE IS FRIGHTENED.
EXT. CHURCH – DAY.
A cold day. Paul D. sits against the church drinking from a
bottle when a voice causes him to look up;
Stamp has his hands in his pockets, moving about.
You got any more newspaper in that pocket
for me, just a waste of time. Ain’t
Stamp sits beside him.
This is hard for me. But I got to do it.
Two things I got to say to you. I’m a
take the easy one first.
If it’s hard for you, might kill me dead.
I come looking for you to ask your
You pick any house, any house where
colored live. Pick any one and you
welcome to stay there. I’m apologizing
‘cause they didn’t offer to tell you. But
you welcome anywhere you want to be. My
house. John and Ella. Miss Lady
Jones..anybody. You choose. You ain’t got
to sleep in no cellar and I apologize for
each and every night.
Well I…I did get offered one place but
I just wanted to be off by myself a
Oh yeah. Oh that’s load off. I thought
everybody gone crazy.
You planning to do anything about it?
Oh yeah. I got big plans.
He drinks from the bottle like an angry, broken man. It stabs
at Stamp’s heart to see him like this.
A WHITE MAN in a horse and wagon drives up the path leading
to the church. He leans stops before them and leans forward;
(on his feet)
I’m looking for a gal name of Judy. Works
over by the slaughterhouse. Said she
lived on Plank Road.
Plank Road. Yes sir. That’s up a ways.
You don’t know her? Judy? Works in the
No sir, I don’t, but I know Plank Road.
‘Bout a mile up thataway.
Paul drinks from the bottle. The White Man addresses him.
Look here..There’s a cross up there, so I
guess this here’s a church or used to be.
Seems to me like you ought to show it
some respect, you follow me?
Yes sir..You right about that. That’s
just what I come over to talk to him
about. Just that..
Paul offers no response. The White Man clicks his tongue and
drives off. Stamp breathes a sigh of relief.
You remember your price, Stamp?
Never found out.
I did. Down to the cent.$900. Always
wondered though what Mrs. Garner got for
my brother Paul F. Must of been more than
nine hundred dollars cause she use that
money for Sweet Home for almost two
years. But then they hung my other
brother Paul A. up on a tree so I guess
he wasn’t worth the same..I wonder what
was Baby Suggs worth? And Halle? I wasn’t
surprised when I found out they tracked
down Sethe all the way to Cincinatti. Her
price must have been higher than all of
us – her being property that reproduced
itself without cost. A breeder.
No use thinking these things now.
Oh but we got to. How we gonna know our
price in the future? How are children’s
children’s children gonna know what they
cost? Who’s gonna tell them? What are
they gonna pay for us, if we free?
Children ain’t gonna need to know that
kind of thing.
They’ll know. They’ll know as soon as
they born. Cause it’s inside us,Stamp.
It’ll be inside them. We’ll pass it down.
Schoolteacher didn’t just change the
outside, he changed the mind..and the
blood..and what it carries…and what
I don’t believe that. I won’t.
There was a rooster named Mister down at
Sweet Home. Last time I saw Halle, with
that butter all over his face and me with
an iron bit in my mouth, I saw Mister –
sitting on a tub. He loved that tub. Like
king on a throne. He was a hateful thing.
Bloody and evil..But he was better than
me. Mister was allowed to be and stay
what he was. Even if you cooked him you’d
be cooking a rooster named Mister. But
wasn’t no way I’d ever be Paul D.
again..Schoolteacher changed me. Was
never no beating under Mr. Garner.
Schoolteacher changed that. Why wouldn’t
a man run from that? Why wouldn’t a man
not work, kill, starve, pull out his own
heart to stop feeling ‘stead of feeling
that? And it strikes me, it’s got to be
cause we were something else. And that
something was less than a chicken sitting
in the sun on a tub.
I said I had two things to say to you. I
only told you one. I have to tell you the
I don’t want to know.
I was there Paul D…There in the yard.
When she did it.
What yard? When who-
And then Paul realizes he’s talking of Sethe.
It ain’t what you think.
You don’t know what I think.
She ain’t crazy. She love those children.
She was trying to outhurt the hurter’s
She was only-
Stamp, leave off I said! I knew her when
she was a girl. She scares me and I knew
her when she was a girl…
You ain’t scared of Sethe. I don’t
She scares me. I scare me. And that girl
in her house scares me.
Who is she? Where she come from?
Don’t know. Just shot up one day from a
She what run you off? Not what I told you
Paul thinks a moment. Then, tears brimming in his eyes:
Tell me something, Stamp. Tell me this
one thing. How much is a nigger supposed
All he can. All he can.
Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – MORNING.
The sun shines on a warm April day..a day abundant with
growth and renewed hope.
But a shadow appears to be hovering over 124. It looks more
worn than before…neglected, abused.
A broken window…the front door off it’s hinge…a front
step splintered and dangerous.
INT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – MORNING.
Camera opens on the front hall and moves through the house,
revealing the same neglect inside;
Broken furniture, dusty floors, mess and disorder…
INT. KITCHEN – MORNING.
Dirty pans, crusted food on the table, window curtains
Sethe sits hunched over, asleep, in a chair against the wall.
She wears a dirty, torn dress that hangs on her body – which
seems withered, frailer since we last saw her…In her lap
lies a clean pretty dress she was in the process of sewing
when she fell asleep from fatigue.
A LOUD CRASH wakes her up. Followed by a LOUD FRUSTRATED
YELL. Her face registers fear. She realizes where she is,
what time it is…and begins organizing breakfast…
She places the dress neatly on the chair, then grabs a cloth
and wipes away the crumbs and dirty plates from supper,
placing them in the sink…
She opens a pantry cupboard to reveal BARE SHELVES except for
a SINGLE EGG and a bowl of HOMINY GRAINS about 1/4 full. She
searches in a panic for more food – anywhere – opening
cabinets, doors – places that never stored food. She realizes
there is none left.
INT. DENVER’S ROOM – MORNING.
Denver finished dressing. She has been able to maintain a
semblance of order about her person and room..
But as she steps out into the second floor hallway, we see
the same disarray as downstairs…
She passes by Baby Sugg’s old room and discovers;
BELOVED, sprawled across the bed, half naked. Her belly is
huge, her body unwashed. She looks, and behaves, like a wild
A broken lamp lies on the fall – pushed over by her leg as
she shifted in bed. Her feet, overhanging the bed, are still
touching the bedside table where the lamp sat.
She is awake now – making a small hole larger in Baby Sugg’s
You shouldn’t be in here?
Beloved jolts her head up to Denver. She doesn’t like being
looked at unawares…
What do you know about it? I sleep where
You best leave that quilt alone. That was
Beloved looks at Denver, then at the quilt – then abruptly
tears the hole apart with one strong pull.
Triumphant, she gets out of bed and exits, passing Denver;
Breakfast ready? I’m hungry!
INT. KITCHEN – MORNING.
Sethe has prepared all the food that was left and placed it
on one plate which she sets on the table. She stands at the
stove, with her back to us, picking crusted pieces of food
off the bottom of the pan.
Beloved moves straight to the chair in front of the place and
begins to eat, shovelling the food into her mouth.
Denver sees her mother covertly eating the burnt pan crumbs,
as she pretends to wash the dishes.
Sethe turns, not realizing Denver was there as well. Their
eyes meet. Sethe wonders if her daughter saw her eating the
pan crumbs. She smiles;
Knowing there must be nothing left, Denver answers;
Sethe looks relieved.
I’ll finish those. Why don’t you sit
Denver crosses to the dishes, taking the pan from her mother.
Sethe nods and crosses to the table, to sit down.
But as she sinks into the chair, Beloved kicks it away;
You don’t sit with me!!
Baby, don’t be like that.
You don’t sit with me!! I don’t sit with
people who leave me!
Don’t talk like that. Your mama loves
I had another dream last night.
(as she eats)
The dead man laying on top of me and I
had nothing to eat. And the ghosts
without skin stuck their fingers in me
and said Beloved in the dark and bitch in
Don’t say those things. You forget about
You gave me the bad dreams. You left me
Mama told you – I’d give up my own life,
every minute, every hour of it to take
back one of your tears baby…My children
my best thing. You my best thing!
You’re weren’t nice to me..you didn’t
smile at me..
That’s not true. I told you, I had to get
you out, make you safe…so’s you and me
could be together on the other side,
No one pays attention to Denver.
Beloved flings her plate at Sethe, hitting her hard across
the eye..the plate breaking…
Hold back Denver – I’m fine..You..you go
on upstairs. I’ll do the cleaning up.
Go upstairs I said!!
Sethe’s harsh tone is only for Denver. Denver exits the
kitchen, afraid to leave them alone…
As she moves from the kitchen, she hears;
I want somethin’ sweet.
We don’t have nothing sweet no more,
Not for me, you don’t! You don’t let me
eat the pies…
No. Since mama lost her job, we don’t
have no more pies..
Denver walks up the white stairs…
INT. BABY SUGGS’ ROOM – DAY.
Denver has straightened up her grandmother’s room. Cleaned
away the broken pieces of the lamp. Gathered the remnants of
She holds the quilt as she sits on the bed, facing the
headboard. SHE REMEMBERS:
INT. BABY SUGGS’ ROOM – A DAY REMEMBERED.
Baby Suggs, near death, lying in her bed, chuckles and
You mean I never told you about your
daddy? About the Bodwins who let me rent
this here house while I do my shoe
repairing? About your mother’s feet, not
to mention her back? I never told you all
A NINE YEAR OLD DENVER shakes her head.
Is that why you can’t walk down the steps
and out yonder by yourself?
Denver can’t answer.
Why you never go back to Lady Jone’s and
learn your letters? You liked going there
I remember. Seeing the other children.
Then all a sudden, you stop.
There was a boy there…said mama was a
jailbird…said he could prove it..
Baby Suggs face registers the pain of her granddaughter, hurt
by hurtful words.
My Jesus my…What people won’t say. Why
didn’t you come and ask me?
‘Fraid I’ll tell ya, huh?
(Denver looks at her)
Come here, child..
Denver crawls into her arms.
You got to go sometime. You got to go out
there by yourself sometime.
But you said…you said out there, there
ain’t no…what was that word?..no..de-
fense. No de-fense.
Then what do I do?
Know it, and go on out the yard. Go on.
END OF MEMORY.
INT. BABY SUGGS’ ROOM – DAY.
Denver has crawled up and snuggled against the pillow in the
same position as when she was nine in her grandma’s arms.
INT. SECOND FLOOR LANDING – DAY.
Denver has changed into a clean, pretty dress and is
approaching the stairs when she passes Sethe’s room. It’s
door is open. She looks in..
Sethe stands with her back to the door, cleaned up, wearing
her best dress and the hat she last wore to the carnival.
Denver smiles, hopefully;
Sethe turns, startled, to reveal – it is BELOVED in Sethe’s
best clothes…When Beloved sees Denver, she smiles
tauntingly and strikes a pose…
I look just like her.
Disgusted, Denver exits.
INT. KITCHEN – DAY.
Denver walks down the stairs, entering the kitchen;
Sethe is on her knees, picking up pieces of broken plate. As
she moves the skin on her knees bleeds as it scrapes against
pieces too small to clean.
Mama let me help you.
NO!…She wanted me to do it.
Sethe continues her work, without even looking at Denver.
Denver pauses a moment, realizing she is of no use here – but
knowing she needs to help her mother somehow.
She looks up to the kitchen, where every cupboard door is
open revealing empty shelves…SHE EXITS – HEADING FOR THE
INT. FRONT HALL – DAY.
C.U. – FRONT DOOR.
Denver’s hands slowly reaches towards the door lock – and
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – DAY.
Denver opens the door, then pushes the broken screen door off
it’s hinge. She closes the door behind her.
She begins her walk from the porch to the road. The first
time she’s ever gone alone..not knowing what she will face
beyond the perimeters of her home.
She reaches Bluestone Road and stops. She looks in either
direction and sees not a soul. She takes a breath.
She begins to walk – to get help.
A block from the house, TWO BLACK MEN turn a corner and walk
Denver stops, frightened, not knowing what to do.
The TWO BLACK MEN pass her, tipping their hats, saying;
TWO BLACK MAN
And they walk by. Denver’s eyes speak the gratitude she never
got her mouth open in time to reply. Heartened by the
encounter, she picks up speed.
EXT. LADY JONES’ HOUSE – DAY.
LADY JONES – a light-skinned black woman with gray eyes and
yellow woolly hair – opens the door to find Denver.
Why Denver..Look at you.
Denver manages to smile.
It’s been so long. It’s so nice of you to
come see me. What brings you?
Unfortunately, Denver can’t manage anything beyond the smile.
Well, never mind – nobody needs a reason
to visit. Let me make us some tea. Come
Lady Jones takes her by the hand and leads her inside.
INT. LADY JONES’ HOUSE – DAY.
Tea things sit on a table between them. Denver eats whatever
she can. Lady Jones watches with care and concern.
How’s your family, honey?
Denver swallows a bite of something with some tea, then;
I want to work, Miss Lady.
Work? Start learnin your letters again?
No. I mean work work.
Well, what can you do?
I can’t do anything but I would learn it
for you if you have a little extra.
Food. My mama, she doesn’t feel well. I
couldn’t stay away from her too long,
cause of her condition but I could do
chores in the mornings.
Oh baby…I don’t know anyone could pay
anybody anything for work they did
themselves…But if you all need to eat
until your mother’s well, all you have to
do is say so…We have a church committee
invented so nobody had to go hungry.
No..No that won’t do…
Lady Jones can sense something far more serious is going on.
INT. 124 BLUESTONE RD./ KITCHEN – DAY.
Denver brings four eggs, some rice and some tea onto the
Sethe’s eyes well up. She looks at Denver as if for the first
time. Her face an expression of gratitude. Suddenly;
Sethe and Denver rush out of the kitchen to see;
beloved running through the rooms, clawing at her throat,
causing it to bleed…
Sethe and Denver rush towards into the keeping room. Sethe
stumbles over a chair to get to Beloved, kneeling on the
floor, ripping at her own neck…
Denver gets her from behind and Sethe grabs her from the
front, pinning her down – trying to stop her from hurting
herself. Beloved screams and strikes out at Sethe, pulling
her hair, clawing at her as well…
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – DAY.
Denver exits the house because she sees something unusual in
POV – THE STUMP;
On the same stump that Beloved first appeared, sits A BASKET
OF EGGS. Denver crosses to it, lifts it and a PAPER flutters
to the ground. She reads it;
M. LUCILLE WILLIAMS…
EXT. M. LUCILLE WILLIAMS HOUSE – DAY.
Denver returns the empty basket to M. Lucille Williams.
INT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – DAY.
Beloved eats ravenously from a bowl of white beans. Sethe
sits in the corner, as if waiting to serve her…
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – DAY
Upon the stump, sits a plate of cold rabbit meat, which
Denver brings inside.
INT. GRACE’S HOUSE – DAY.
Denver is returning a bowl to Grace, a friendly woman.
No, darling. That’s not my bowl. Mine’s
got a blue ring around it..Would you like
to come in a spell?
INT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – DAY.
Beloved sleeps curled up on the kitchen floor after eating –
her mouth still dirty from the meal…
Sethe, unwashed, her hair uncombed, sits in her corner chair.
She is trying to mend a torn dress.
Denver eats a little from the latest neighborhood gift. She
hears her mother mumbling to herself like a madwoman.
Nobody..no sir..that’s right..nobody’s
going be doing that..nobody going be
writing my daughter’s characteristics on
the animal side..no sir..I don’t
care..ain’t laying that down..no sir. I
refuse..that’s right..that’s right…
Mama…Mama she’s asleep. Why don’t you
She likes this dress…
But you’ll hurt your eyes doin it there.
Come sit at the table.
Sethe considers this. She rises cautiously, then sits at the
table. Denver rises and gets her some food, placing it before
Please mama, eat something…
Sethe nods…Denver is getting more and more frightened of
losing her mother completely…Instead of protecting Beloved
from Sethe, she must protect her mother from Beloved.
EXT. THE BODWIN’S HOUSE; BACK DOOR – DAY.
A white family home in a white Ohio neighborhood.
JANEY WAGON, a benevolent black servant woman, opens the back
door for Denver.
May I come in?
What you want?
I want to see Mr. and Mrs. Bodwin.
Miss Bodwin. They brother and sister,
What you want’em for?
I’m looking for work. I was thinking they
might know of some.
You Baby Sugg’s kin, ain’t you?
I heard your mother took sick, that so?
Well, come on in. You letting in flies.
INT. THE BODWIN’S HOUSE – DAY.
The house is filled with books and pearl white lamps and
glass cases filled with glistening things.
Denver pushes her feet into the soft blue carpet as she sits
You know what? I’ve been here since I was
fourteen and I remember like yesterday
when Baby Suggs, holy, came here and sat
right where you are. Whiteman name of
Garner brought her. He and Mr. Bodwin
were good friends. That’s how she got
that house you all live in. Other things
I never went to those woodland services
but she was always nice to me. Always.
Never be another like her.
I miss her.
Bet you do. Everybody miss her. That was
a good woman…Well, I don’t know whether
the Bodwins think it or not but they sure
could use some extra help.
They getting older now and I can’t take
care of ‘em like I used to. More and more
they keep asking me to sleep over night.
Now, I don’t want to quit these people
but they can’t have all my days and
nights too. I got my own family needs me.
It’ll take some convincing but maybe you
could come after supper – take care of
your mama during the day, then earn a
little something at night, how’s that?
Fine. But what would I do at night?
Be here. In case.
In case of what?
In case the house burn down or bad
weather slops the roads so bad I can’t
get here on time or late guests needed
cleaning up after. Anything.
Don’t ask me what whitefolks need at
During Janey’s lines, Denver looks about the house imagining
herself here at night…her eyes happen upon A STATUE OF A
BLACK BOY on his knees, his head thrown back farther than a
head could go, his mouth wide open like a cup and filled with
money for delivery tips. On the pedestal are the words’ AT YO
They good whitefolks?
Oh yeah. They good. Can’t say they ain’t
good. I wouldn’t trade them for another
pair, tell you that. But you come back in
a few days – give me a chance to lead’em
to it. All right?
Denver nods, beaming gratefully – so gratefully that no words
come, only tears… Janey reaches for Denver’s hand and holds
What is it, child? What’s the trouble
Denver looks at her and we know she needs to tell someone.
INT. ELLA’S HOUSE – DAY.
Ella has gathered all the women of the town for a meeting
including Lady Jones, Janey Wagon, M. Lucille Williams,
But is it really the daughter, Janey? The
That what she say.
How they know it’s her?
It’s sitting there. Sleeps, eats and
raises hell. Whipping Sethe every day.
I’ll be. A baby?
No. Grown now. The age it would have been
had it lived.
In the flesh. And whipping her.
Guess she had it coming a little.
Nobody got that coming.
But Ella- you can’t just up and kill your
No, and the children can’t just up and
kill the mama. What’s fair ain’t
(the women listen)
Now you all know how I felt about the
whole thing. I know the rage Sethe felt
in that shed that day. We all do. But
what I could not understand, and still
don’t, was her reaction to it. Prideful.
Too damn complicated for a black woman in
her position before God. But whatever she
done, I don’t like the idea of past
errors taking possession of the present.
I don’t cotton to sin moving in on a
house, unleashed and sassy. Every day
life takes enough, takes all a woman has.
“Sufficient unto the day is evil thereof”
and nobody needs more. Nobody needs a
grown up evil sitting at a table with a
grudge. As long as that ghost showed
itself from a ghostly place, I respected
it. But once it take on flesh and come
into this world, well, the shoe’s on the
other foot now. I don’t mind a little
communication between worlds. But this
here’s an invasion.
The women agree.
Should we pray?
Uh-huh. First. Then we got to get down to
INT. 124 BLUESTONE RD.: KITCHEN – DAYS LATER.
Denver comes down the stairs, entering the kitchen.
Sethe, worn out, looking more beaten and ravaged than before,
stands at the sink with an ICE PICK chopping up ice. Denver
speaks to her, but she does not turn or acknowledge her.
Mama?….Mama I’m going out..
Mama, I got a job. Working over at the
Bodwins at night. Mr. Bodwin coming over
now to pick me up on his way back from
town. I’ll be staying there nights and
coming back here for the daytime. We’ll
have some money, mama..Mama?
Sethe continues her action as if hypnotized. Denver
approaches her from behind and whispers softly;
I’m going help you, mama. Don’t you give
Denver touches her gently, but Sethe acts as if she hears and
feels nothing. Denver exits.
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – LATE THAT DAY.
Denver is sitting on the stump waiting for Mr. Bodwin when
THIRTY WOMEN, gathered together, walking up Bluestone Rd.
towards 124, SINGING A HOLY SONG;
Denver is amazed by the sight as the women position
themselves right in front of 124 – armed with bibles,
crucifixes and whatever other symbols of heavenly power they
INT. 124 BLUESTONE RD; THE KEEPING ROOM – DAY.
Sethe is rubbing a naked Beloved’s forehead with a cool cloth
filled with ice, when the two women hear the singing.
Beloved rises first and moves to the window to see.
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – DAY.
The women continue singing.
EXT. FURTHER DOWN BLUESTONE RD. – DAY.
MR. BODWIN, sitting on a wagon pulled by a horse, is riding
toward 124 when he hears the singing as well.
WE NOTICE THAT MR. BODWIN IS WEARING A HAT SIMILAR TO THE ONE
SCHOOLTEACHER WORE on that fateful day.
CUT BACK TO:
EXT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – DAY.
The women continue singing as:
Sethe and Beloved, her belly as big as a pregnant woman’s,
exit the house.
The women are stunned by the sight and slightly confused by
the lack of fear between the women.
Sethe is holding Beloved’s hand. Beloved is smiling brightly
at the beautiful singing.
Denver looks to her mother;
Tears run down Sethe’s face but she is not crying. The sound
of the women’s voices wash over her like a baptism. She looks
to all the women, faces she remembers, faces she has missed
although up until this moment was not conscious of missing.
Then, Sethe looks beyond the women and sees:
MR. BODWIN APPROACHING IN HIS WAGON. SHE SEES MR. BODWIN
WEARING A HAT THAT LOOKS LIKE SCHOOLTEACHERS.
Sethe’s expression turns to fear, then rage. In her ravaged
mind, she thinks it is Schoolteacher coming back…
No…No, he’s not coming into my yard. He
not taking my best thing…No..
She releases Beloved’s hand and moves forward…
She passes Denver, feeling for the ICE PICK IN HER APRON.
As Mr. Bodwin reaches the thirty women who separate him from
124. HIS EYES FOCUS IN WONDER ON THE NAKED BELOVED AS;
SETHE RUNS TOWARDS HIM AND THE WOMEN, HER HAND EXTENDED
HOLDING THE ICE PICK..
DENVER RUNS AFTER HER. SETHE REACHES THE WOMEN AND LUNGES FOR
BODWIN BUT THE WOMEN SEIZE HER, CREATING A HILL OF BLACK
PEOPLE. SETHE RISING TO THE TOP, HER HAND EXTENDED. DENVER
REACHING HER FROM BEHIND, PULLING HER BACK AND PUNCHING HER
OUT COLD AS THE BODIES FALL AROUND THEM….
Beloved watches from the house – watches Sethe attack and
defend with the ice pick. And something within her is
resolved. For a moment, we see a calm spirit instead of a
wild animal. And a tear upon her face..
Then, just as quickly, she sprints around the side of the
house and disappears from view.
The Women try to help Sethe as Denver cries for her mother.
Mr. Bodwin looks on stunned.
WIDE ANGLE – OF A NAKED BLACK WOMAN WITH A FULL BELLY RUNNING
THROUGH AN OPEN FIELD, REACHING THE WOODS THEN DISAPPEARING
INTO THE TREES……
EXT. RICHMOND ST. – DAY. WEEKS LATER.
Paul D. is on his way to work when he sees;
A poised, confident Denver walking in the opposite direction.
She spots him and smiles;
Good morning, Paul D.
Paul is clearly impressed by the sight of her.
Well, is it now? How you getting along?
Don’t pay to complain.
You on your way home?
No. Got me an afternoon job at the shirt
factory. Figure between that and my night
work at the Bodwins I might be able to
put something away for me and mama.
They treating you right over at the
More than all right. Miss Bodwin, she
teach me stuff..Book stuff. She says I
might go to Oberlin. She’s experimenting
Paul smiles – wanting to warn her but deciding not to spoil
the possibilities that lay before her.
Your mother all right?
No. Not a bit all right. Hasn’t gotten
out of bed since that day.
You think I should stop by? Think she’d
I don’t know. I think I’ve lost my
mother, Paul D.
That girl…You know, Beloved…
She gone like they say?
Haven’t seen her since that day. Ella
thinks she might be waiting in the woods
for another chance but..I don’t think so.
Mama thinks she’s gone for good. Says she
can feel it.
You think she sure ‘nough your sister?
At times. At other times I think she
was…more. But who would know that
better than you. I mean, you sure ‘nough
She levels her eyes at him and he knows what she means.
Well, if you want my opinion…
I don’t. I have my own.
Well, good luck with the job.
They pass each other until Denver turns back;
And Paul D…you don’t have to stay ‘way,
but be careful how you talk to my mama,
Paul watches her walk away. He watches as a YOUNG BLACK MAN
runs towards her shouting;
Hey, Miss Denver..Wait up!
He watches as the two young people, the future, walk
INT. 124 BLUESTONE RD. – DAY.
Paul enters the house and hears HUMMING. He walks towards the
keeping room, whose door is ajar;
INT. KEEPING ROOM – DAY.
Sethe lies in bed with the remnants of Baby Sugg’s quilt over
her, as she hums her melody and looks out of the window.
(turns to him)
She looks like she’s dying.
He approaches her.
Yeah. Look bad?
No, You looking good.
Devil’s confusion. What’s this I hear
about you not getting out of bed?
I saw Denver. She tell you?
She comes in the daytime. She still with
me, my Denver.
You got to get up from here, girl.
I’m tired, Paul. So tired. I have to rest
(getting upset, shouts)
Don’t you die on me!! This is Baby Suggs
quilt. Is that what you planning!?
Oh, I don’t have no plans. No plans at
Look – Denver be here in the day. I be
here in the night. I’m a take care of
you, you hear? Starting now.
Sethe looks at him – a long look – and sees in him that
thing, that blessedness, “that makes him the kind of man who
can walk into a house and make women cry, make women tell him
things they could only tell each other”.
She left me. She’s gone again.
Aw, girl. Don’t cry…Me and you, we got
more yesterday than anybody. We need some
kind of tomorrow…
She was my best thing.
Paul leans down and takes her hand, entwining his fingers
You your best thing, Sethe. You are.
Sethe smiles, with tears in her eyes, looking almost
EXT. THE CLEARING – A DAY OUT OF TIME.
A beautiful, sunny day. The clearing is full. Everyone looks
bright and hopeful. Dressed in bright, summer clothes…
A robust Baby Suggs is on her rock giving her best Call, as
camera pans the crowd of faces eager to believe ….
..The only grace we can have, is the
grace we can imagine. If you cannot see
it, you will not have it…Here, in this
place, we are flesh. Flesh that weeps,
laughs, dances on bare feet in the grass.
Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not
love your flesh. They despise it. They
flay it. O, my people, they do not love
your hands. Those they only use, tie,
bind, chop off and leave empty, Love your
hands. Love them. Raise them up and kiss
them. Touch others with them, put them
together, stroke them on your face ‘cause
they don’t love that either. You got to
love it. You. Yonder out there, they
ain’t in love with your moth. They will
see it broken and break it again. What
you say out of it, they will not heed.
What you scream from it they do not hear.
No, they don’t love your mother. You got
to love it. And the feet that need to
rest and to dance. The backs that needs
support. The shoulders that need arms,
strong arms I’m telling you! O my people,
out yonder they don’t love your neck
unnoosed and straight. So love your neck;
put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and
hold it up. Love all your inside parts,
love ‘em..and the beating heart, love
that too. More than eyes or feet. More
than lungs that have yet to draw free
air, love your heart. For this is the
And with her twisted, broken old body BABY SUGGS BEGINS TO
DANCE AND TWIRL UP ON HER ROCK.
And the crowd gives her music, SINGING IN FOUR PART HARMONY.
CAMERA PANS THE CROWD OF BEAUTIFUL FACES singing together.
Among the crowd, we see FAMILIAR FACES…
WE SEE THE WOMEN WHO SANG AT 124…
WE STAMP PAID, ELLA, JOHN, and LADY JONES…
AND WE SEE SETHE, SURROUNDED BY ALL HER CHILDREN.