Paul D and Stamp Paid discuss the day when the singing women came to the house and drove away Beloved, who fled from the women and disappeared. According to Stamp Paid, 124 seems no longer to be haunted. It is “just another weathered house.” Paul D thinks Sethe has gone crazy.
With Beloved driven away, 124 is finally free from the burden of its past and can potentially become a home like any other. However, Sethe has not been able to escape from her past, as she seems to have gone mad.
Paul D’s thoughts are confirmed when Denver runs into him and Stamp Paid and tells them that she has lost her mother. But she says that she is working for the Bodwins and learning from Miss Bodwin, who hopes to try to send her to Oberlin College.
Now that her family past has in some sense been exorcized in the form of Beloved, Denver can finally look forward to a potentially brighter future. She has escaped the dangerous, overwhelming side of memory that overwhelmed Sethe.
Paul D asks Denver if Beloved was her sister. Denver says that she thinks so, but that Beloved was also more. A little boy has claimed that he saw a naked woman “with fish for hair” fleeing through the woods after the women sang outside 124.
As Denver says, Beloved seems to have been both her sister and something more. She embodied the pain and suffering of slaves, the appeal and danger of the past, and the extreme love between a mother and child.
Paul D thinks about his past, and the various unsuccessful escapes he has attempted throughout his life. After the end of the Civil War, he thought his life would become easy, but it did not. He remembers traveling north from Alabama and encountering black families and children murdered. He recalls his astonishment at first being paid for work. For seven years after the war, he wandered around and didn’t stop anywhere until he came to 124.
Paul D’s wanderings represent him as continually in search of some kind of home, which he has temporarily thought that he had found at 124 before that, too, went sour. He had thought that after the war freedom would be all he or other slaves needed. But of course it is not that simple, the burdens of the past—both in memory and in racist oppression and violence—remain.
Paul D goes to 124. He senses that Beloved is truly gone. He enters the house looking for Sethe and finally finds her humming in the keeping room. He tries to talk to her but she seems crazy. He pledges to take care of her from now on. Sethe says that her daughter has left her, referring to Beloved. He tells her, “We got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.”
Paul D’s comment to Sethe reinforces the novel’s turn from the past to the future. Just as Denver is finally able to plan for a future, Paul D tries to get Sethe to let go of “yesterday” in favor of “some kind of tomorrow.” And Paul D's own return to 124 signals a willingness to accept his past, to make a home in which to stay and live.