She is the Good Samaritan whose attention to the victim robbed and abandoned by the roadside earned him a place in biblical history. Amy does not falter when called to aid and abet a fugitive slave, or touch a mutilated black woman, or bring new black life into the world. She drags Sethe back to life, using spider-webs to ease her back, massaging circulation into her damaged feet, and delivering her baby. Proactive Christianity provides the tension that undercuts passive emulation and dissimulation. Amys religion is eminently present, representing her sense of urgency and agency. Sethe owes her life to Amy, who is irreversibly linked to black life, both through her own suffering and through her surname, Denver, which the grateful Sethe gives to her newborn daughter. ” (Iyasere, 179)
The commentaries made by Amy Denver are also very significant: first, her call on Jesus: ” Come here Jesus” when she looks at the tree on Sethes back is what suggests the parallel between Sethes tree shaped mark and the cross that Jesus had to wear. Also, her naive commentary “what God had in mind I wonder,” is a very deep question which speaks of the inhumanity and injustice of slavery, and moreover, can be seen as a question that indicates the tree is a message from God to all those who are oppressors and who behave inhumanely.
Your back got a whole tree on it. In bloom. What God have in mind, I wonder. I had me some whippings, but I dont remember nothing like this. Mr. Buddy had a right evil hand too. Whip you for looking at him straight. (Morrison, 79)
As it can be seen, the white girl is a victim, just like Sethe, and this is why she can be seen as Christ-like figure herself.
On the other hand, other critics have brought a somewhat opposed view to the one discussed above, in which the Amy Denver episode is seen as cross racial encounter, but which also lays emphasis on the style Morrison uses for the scene, and which is definitely not an idealizing one for neither of the characters.
It is significant that Amy Denver is seen here as a re-embodiment of Mark Twains Huckleberry Finn, and Sethe, respectively as the Jim figure. A very significant clue for this is that the little white girl appears on the scene in search of huckleberries, which is an obvious hint to the name of Mark Twains character.
In this respect, Amy is not seen as a white abolitionist, but as a figure who is meant to reinterpret the Huckleberry Finn story, and who is only does what needs to be done in the specific situation:
Amy is not a kindly abolitionist but a scrawny, uneducated bigot on an improbable quest for red velvet, and Sethe is in such desperate straits that she wants to die. Morrison takes care not to falsify through idealization the relationship between the two women either: this is not the beginning of a beautiful friendship but a short-lived, fleeting, serendipitous encounter, and Amy almost abandons Sethe to her fate, only grudgingly returning to minister to her. Amys speech is crude, judgmental, and not designed to comfort: Dont up and die on me in the night, you hear? she tells Sethe, I dont want to see your ugly black face hankering over me” (Morrison, 82).
Thus, Amy Denver is crucial to the understanding of both the religious symbols of the text, and the manner in which the black -white relationship is constructed in the novel, making a very important point through the meanings it opens in the book.
Iyasere, Solomon O. Understanding Toni Morrisons Beloved and Sula: Selected Essays and Criticism of the Works by the Nobel-Prize Winning author,
Philadelphia: Whitson Publishing, 2000