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Topic for discussion: Week 7

Why do you think Morrison writes that Sethe has 28 days of freedom before the four horsemen came? Why do you think she is so specific in the number; why not say "a month" or "a few weeks"? Is the number significant?

Also, what is the significance of referring to the white men as the four horsemen?


Following some research I found that the number has supernatural significance because 28 is referred to as spiritual perfection in connection with the earth.

What Morrison was trying to accomplish/show?

I haven't the slightest clue.

A lot of things revolve around the number 28. An example of this that closely ties in with this passage is the movie "28 Days Later." That too has to deal with the apocalypse coming in 28 days so perhaps that is a common number to associate with the apocalypse.

I have also read that the number 28 is often referred to spiritual perfection with connection to the earth. As for what she was trying to accomplish, I read that she very often incorporates spirituality in connection to the earth in her writing, which is extremely evident in Beloved. She may just be including that as a theme again.

I think the reason why she wrote the number 28 is because it is much easier than writing the month and dates. I think she want the reader to pay attention to the number. The white men has the power and who ever has the power would always ride hores in the old days.

After reading through many things I have ended up at an excellent source and explanation about the four horsemen and Sethe's "28 days of freedom".

In the eyes of the slaves, the four horsemen where, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which were,"embodiments of famine, war, pestilence, and death. Each white male of the foursome represents an aspect of inhumanity." Schoolteacher stays detached from the slaves and just sees them as "breeding stock" for Sweet Home. Slave catcher is the one who always has the value of slaves in his mind and is concerned about their usability, and thinks that captives must be guarded from violence. This is of course due to the fact that the slaves don't go to waste so to say. The nephew being the one who sexually abused a helpless female and learns to late about violence, because he himself was a victim of sexual abuse. The sheriff has to keep unjust laws going which is why he is said to be the most pathetic one of all.

I just thought that these interpretations were super interesting, and tried my best to simplify them for you, but if you want to go and check more out, here is the link:


I think the # 28 is deeper then we all can imagine, as it was said above the # 28 what spiritual meaning of prediction, but i also believe it ties into the white male's having power in that day of age, and now even in modern say we are seeing 28 as a number that means freedom will come at the end of 28 days. i think everything in the book has a deeper meaning then we are actually grasping.

You guys have come up with some amazing and interesting theories about the significance of 28.

When I posted the question, I had two things in mind, actually. They aren't quite as cosmic, but can still be symbolically quite meaningful.

The first is that 28 days is the length of the lunar cycle; it takes the moon 28 days to go from new to full and back to new again.

The second is that the average length of a woman's menstrual cycle is 28 days (not to go all Alice Munro on you).

The fact that both cycles take 28 days is one of the reasons that women have often been associated with the moon in mythology and literature.

Back to "Beloved," as the moon is reborn every 28 days, I wonder if Morrison was thinking of a metaphorical rebirth of Sethe at that time. It's definitely a turning point for the character.

Great work! There's no "right answer;" all of us bring a unique interpretation based on our own experience, which is valid whether or not it's what the author intended. Some symbols have been ingrained in our culture so deeply that they take on a life of their own. The psychologist Jung would argue that some symbols--archetypes--are common to the entire human race, regardless of culture. (You could Google Jung + collective unconscious + archetypes if you're interested in reading further. Joseph Campbell talks about it quite a bit in his work on comparative religions. You may be familiar with "The Power of Myth.")

Sethe writes the number 28 in order to bring attention to the number's significance. Instead of simply writing a month, she wants this number to stick out. The first thing that comes to my mind is a women's menstrual cycle is 28 days. Also, her purpose is that the horsemen are coming, which relates to a historical event, the four horsemen symbolize entrapment and the end of her life as a free women. In 28 days, she is no longer a women, just an object of another person's desires.