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Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
3. Saying more might push them both to a place they couldn’t get back from. 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.

In Chapter 7, Paul D begins sharing his painful memories with Sethe, but he fears that revealing too much will wrench the two former slaves back into a past from which they might never escape. Both Sethe and Paul D avoid the pain of their past as best they can, and both have developed elaborate and ultimately destructive coping mechanisms to keep the past at bay. Sethe has effectively erased much of her memory, and Paul D functions by locking his memories and emotions away in his imagined “tobacco tin.” The rustiness of the tin contributes to the reader’s sense of the inaccessibility and corrosiveness of Paul D’s memories. His separation from his emotions means he is alienated from himself, but Paul D is willing to pay the price to keep himself from his painful and turbulent past. When Paul D is forced to confront the past during his erotic encounter with Beloved, the rusted lid of his heart begins to break open. At the end of the novel, Paul D reveals that he is willing finally to risk emotional safety and open himself to another person, to love Sethe.