Sethe and Paul go upstairs and enter her bedroom. After brief sex, they are too shy to talk to each other. Sethe’s scar makes Paul think of the trees of Sweet Home. He remembers another slave named Sixo, who once walked 17 hours to see a woman, but had to turn back immediately upon reaching her in order to get back to Sweet Home in time to return to work.
Despite their physical intimacy, there is still a lot of past—things they do know and things they don't—that stand between them and make them shy. Sex is the easy part of the connection. Sethe’s scar, a physical emblem of the painful past, causes Paul D to think of his own past.
Sethe thinks of Sweet Home and working in the kitchen there. She thinks of how slavery treats men and women like checkers, moving them around, selling them off, and breaking up families. Baby Suggs, for example, was separated from all of her eight children except for Halle.
Sethe’s thoughts emphasize how slavery breaks up families and homes, separating children from their mothers.
Paul D thinks of how he had fantasized about Sethe on Sweet Home and how the actual consummation of that desire has failed to live up to his fantasy. Sethe remembers deciding to marry Halle and asking Mrs. Garner if there would be a wedding for them. Mrs. Garner simply laughed in reply.
As the two characters separately reconstruct their pasts, Sethe’s unofficial marriage to Halle shows that the Garners did not consider their slaves worthy of actual marriage. They may have been "kind" slave-owners, but they were still slave-owners who considered it acceptable to
Sethe and Paul D each separately remember when Sethe and Halle had sex out in the cornfield on Sweet Home, where they thought no one would notice. Paul recalls seeing cornstalks shaking and moving. Sethe remembers grabbing and clutching cornstalks and feeling the soft cornsilk hair, concentrating on the feeling of the cornsilk, “how fine and loose and free” it was.
Amid all of Sethe’s painful memories, the consummation of her marriage to Halle stands out as a small moment of pleasure, though they were forced to meet secretly out in the cornfields, as they lacked any privacy or room of their own.