Paul D’s thoughts in Chapters 24 and 25 focus on his fear of asserting his humanity, which is something that he had always considered a given before Mr. Garner’s death. After Mr. Garner’s death and the commencement of schoolteacher’s abuses, Paul D learned that his humanity was in fact subject to a white man’s whim. A white man could beat it out of him, or even make him want to deny it to himself, as Paul D’s contemplation of suicide demonstrates. In retrospect, Paul D doubts whether he was ever a man at all, because even Mr. Garner’s presumably enlightened version of slavery denied Paul D the power to define his identity as a male and as a thinking, feeling human being. As long as Paul D fears the idea of claiming his humanity, he will continue to feel alienated from himself.