says that instead of a heart, he has a tobacco tin in his chest, where he keeps all of his painful memories and emotions. This image symbolizes his need to repress memories and hold back emotions, just as Sethe
and other slaves have had to do in order to survive. Otherwise, attempting to confront the horrible realities of slavery can completely overwhelm a person, as happens to Halle
and other slaves who go mad. This kind of repression is thus necessary for Paul D’s basic, physical survival as a slave and a prisoner on the chain gang. But it cannot last forever: as the novel progresses, Paul D’s tobacco tin is pried open, and his past memories catch up with him.