I’ve just finished reading the first assigned portion of The Color Purple, and a connection that I made between this book and Beloved is that of food and weight gain and how it seems to play a part in establishing dominance in certain relationships.
In Beloved, near the end Sethe loses a lot of weight and Beloved gains a serious stomach because Sethe is giving her most of their food (I didn’t read Beloved’s swollen belly as a pregnancy because I didn’t think of her as a real human being because of her supernatural origins, so it honestly never occurred to me to think she might be pregnant). In The Color Purple, Sofia’s husband Harpo begins eating so much he makes himself sick more than once and Celie comments to Sofia that he might be eating that way because he wants to be Sofia’s size (she is naturally bigger boned than he is and curvy). This is important in speaking of Sofia and Harpo’s relationship considering they continually struggle with each other, Harpo for a submissive wife and Sofia for a husband who lets her be his equal, often physically hurting him in return when he tries to beat her into submission. Him attempting to be physically bigger than her could be seen as another way to try to establish equality with her (which he feels he doesn’t have because she isn’t submissive) and beyond that, explicit dominance. Perhaps he wanted also to become stronger and bulkier than Sofia as well so that he could overtake her in a fight, but the book does not say, it only speaks of him gaining weight.
In Beloved Sethe gives Beloved more food than she allots for herself and also waits on her like a maid, which Denver is embarrassed about and sees as inappropriate considering Sethe is the parent and Beloved the child. Beloved is clearly running the show near the end of the book, with Sethe desperate to make everything up to her and allowing her to do whatever she wants as she slowly loses weight and becomes ill. As Beloved gains weight, she also gains power over her submissive, starving mother. Perhaps this is only a coincidence. I’m not sure. This was just something I noticed in both books.