At dinner one night, Denver asks Paul D how long he’s going to “hang around”, which upsets Sethe. Paul asks if he should leave, but Sethe tells him not to. Denver leaves the dinner table and Sethe and Paul D get into an argument. Sethe says that Denver was rude, but still defends her when Paul D criticizes her. Paul D thinks to himself that it is dangerous for an ex-slave to love anything as much as Sethe loves Denver.
Paul D continues to disrupt the home environment of 124. His thought that it is dangerous for Sethe to love Denver as much as she does alludes to the way in which slavery destroys mother-child relationships by separating families.
Paul D tells Sethe that he will stay at 124 and help her, but she has to talk to Denver about making room in their life for him. He plans to take Denver and Sethe to a carnival that is open for one day to “coloreds.”
Sethe and Denver must make room for Paul D at 124 both literally and figuratively, fitting him into their lives. The segregation at the carnival is a small example of the widespread discrimination that ex-slaves like Sethe faced even after finding freedom.
The three go to the carnival. Sethe dresses up as much as she can for the occasion, but Denver is sullen. As they walk to the carnival, Sethe notices that their three shadows are holding hands and interprets it as a good omen. The carnival is mediocre, but still delights those who attend. Denver buys candy and lemonade and begins to warm to the idea of Paul D living with her and Sethe. As they walk home from the carnival, their shadows are again holding hands.
As the three start to get along, Sethe begins to think that they might be able to piece together a home and a family even after their traumatic pasts. Even the sort-of-supernatural image of the shadows holding hands seems to suggest good things to come.