Stamp Paid arrives at the Church and meets with Paul D, who is attempting to drink away his sorrows. He apologizes for Paul D having to sleep at the church and offers to set him up at a house. Paul D says he has chosen to sleep at the church, rather than a house.
Stamp Paid’s offer of help (and confidence that someone will offer a home to Paul D) shows the beneficence of the local community. However, Paul D does not want to be in a house. He needs a church, perhaps because he feels that he either does not want to be with other people or because he needs a certain closeness to something holy to combat his terrible past, or perhaps both. Earlier, with Sethe, Paul was starting to unearth and confront that past. Now he is trying to escape it through alcohol.
Stamp Paid says he wants to make up for showing Paul D the news clipping about Sethe. He then tells Paul D about how he changed his name. He was named Joshua when he was a slave. One night, his master slept with his wife. When his wife returned to him after a night with his master, he was angry and wanted to break his wife’s neck. Instead, he changed his name.
Stamp Paid’s story shows another example of the abuse of slaves by slave-owners. His name change can be seen as an attempt to separate himself from his painful past. Just as Paul D repressed his memories, Stamp Paid had to become a different person in order to put his past behind him. Also note how Stamp Paid's anger at the abuse from his master was directed toward his wife—how the abuses of slavery could turn slaves against each other.
Stamp Paid tells Paul D that he was at 124 on the day Sethe killed her child. He tells him it was out of love and “she was trying to out-hurt the hurter.” He asks Paul D about Beloved and Paul D says that no one knows where she came from. Before Stamp Paid leaves, Paul D asks him, “how much is a nigger supposed to take?” Stamp Paid answers, “All he can,” and Paul D responds by repeating, “Why?”
Stamp Paid reinforces Sethe’s assertion that she loved her child, that she was taking the only path she could to escape from those who had hurt her. Paul D’s painful question emphasizes the unceasing, unfathomable, abuses and indignities suffered by him and other slaves. Stamp Paid asserts that they must continue on living, to face whatever comes until it kills them. But Paul D, in his despair, cannot see why.