Quotation (About A Heart, I Think) From Toni Morrison's 'Beloved'?
December 12, 2006 5:02 PM   Subscribe

In Toni Morrison's 'Beloved', there's some part where—I think a guy gets to sleep with someone he's wanted to in a shed or something—so a motif about this guy's heart being like a closed black tinderbox or somesuch is brought up and upon that moment, he feels that there's a beating heart in there with red blood & the works. Ring a bell?

I'm sure something like that's in the book but not sure if it works as a standalone quote. Don't feel like reading through the novel to find it. Halp!
posted by Firas to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I believe he refers to it as a tobacco box. Can you "search inside the book" on Amazon?
posted by bonheur at 5:10 PM on December 12, 2006

I don't have the quotation, but look between pages 113 and 117
posted by saraswati at 5:12 PM on December 12, 2006

"He would keep the rest where it belonged: in that tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be. Its lid rusted shut. He would not pry it loose now in front of this sweet sturdy woman, for if she got a whiff of the contents it would shame him. And it would hurt her to know that there was no red heart bright as Mister's comb beating in him."

Page 73 of the Plume edition.
posted by Paragon at 5:14 PM on December 12, 2006

"It was some time before he could put Alfred, Georgia, Sixo, schoolteacher, his brothers, Sethe, Mister, the taste of iron, the sight of butter, the smell of hickory, notebook paper, one by one, into the tobacco tin lodged in his chest. By the time he got to 124 nothing in this world could pry it open."

I think that's the first instance of the metaphor...
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:15 PM on December 12, 2006

nope, Paragon's comes first.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:15 PM on December 12, 2006

Saraswati has it; the tobacco tin is introduced on p. 73, and opened on p. 117.
posted by Paragon at 5:16 PM on December 12, 2006

Response by poster: Ok so seeing the question on screen activated some part of my problem-solving apparatus that didn't involve typing "toni morrison beloved quotes heart" into google, for I went to Amazon's search inside the book feature and typed in "heart" and then "tobacco". The quote is:
"Beloved." He said it, but she did not go. She moved closer with a footfall he didn't hear and he didn't hear the whisper that the flakes of rust made either as they fell away from the seams of his tobacco tin. So when the lid gave he didn't know it. What he knew was that when he reached the inside part he was saying, "Red heart. Red heart," over and over again. Softly and then so loud it woke Denver, then Paul D himself. "Red heart. Red heart. Red heart."
Unfortunately it doesn't really seem powerful on a standalone basis (nor even make sense for that matter...)

On preview: y'all are quick! Thanks.
posted by Firas at 5:17 PM on December 12, 2006

Not sure what you're using the quote for, but if it's for a lover or a birthday card or something like that, I'd reconsider. The context isn't right... the man in the book isn't sleeping with someone he's been lusting after forever, he's been badgered and coerced into having sex with someone even though he doesn't want to, and that someone is something akin to a daughter to him. There's also at least one other passage earlier in the book where Paul D refers to his heart as a tobacco tin, so when the phrase comes up in this passage, we know what it's referring to.
posted by bonheur at 5:19 PM on December 12, 2006

Response by poster: Yeah, I don't plan on using it on anything immediate. Just filing it away in my head with the zany zoo of unrelated things we all have jingling in there. And if/when I do it won't be in the Hallmark everything-is-sunshine-and-candy context, more like, integrated into some intense email or journal entry or blog post or the like.
posted by Firas at 5:27 PM on December 12, 2006

Yeah - I remember this metaphor ("red heart, red heart") being important from when I read Beloved in 11th grade.
posted by matkline at 9:55 PM on December 12, 2006

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