As Stamp Paid is on his way to see Paul D, the narrative resumes by following Paul D’s thoughts. He remembers the differences between Mr. Garner and Schoolteacher but now questions how different the two really were.
Paul D remembers fleeing Sweet Home with the other slaves. They wait and observe Schoolteacher, plotting the best way to escape. But Sethe becomes pregnant, and the changes Schoolteacher makes about how the farm is run complicate their plans.
The slaves’ planned attempt to escape relies upon their cooperation as a group, though it is made more difficult by Sethe’s pregnancy and by Schoolteacher.
Paul D, Sixo, and Sixo’s Thirty-Mile Woman try to escape Sweet Home, but are caught. The Thirty-Mile Woman escapes. Schoolteacher is convinced that Sixo has gone crazy and is no longer suitable for work, so he has Sixo burned alive. Sixo laughs as he dies. Paul D hears Schoolteacher discuss his own monetary value as a slave.
Again exemplifying the cruelty of slavery, Schoolteacher kills Sixo because he only values his life in terms of how much work Sixo can perform. Similarly, he thinks of Paul D in terms of how much money he is worth. Sixo's laughter suggests at the moment that Sixo has gone crazy (though the fact that his laughing suggests that to readers means that readers are underestimating Sixo).
Paul D is brought back to Sweet Home in chains, where he sees Sethe. Sethe got her two older children out but has not escaped. She plans to run away by herself. Paul realizes that it must have been right after this conversation, after he left, that Schoolteacher’s boys took her to the barn and took advantage of her. Paul D thinks of his price and wonders what the monetary values of Baby Suggs, Halle, and others is. He thinks of Sixo laughing as he died because the Thirty-Mile Woman had gotten away, pregnant with Sixo’s child.
Devoted to her children, Sethe sent them ahead before trying to escape, herself. Paul D’s thoughts about the monetary value of various characters shows him grappling with the way in which slavery treats human beings as commodities. While Schoolteacher (and, uncomfortably, the reader) saw Sixo’s laughter as simply crazy behavior, it was in fact a final act of defiance against his cruel master, as Sixo knew that while he was being killed his child would be born in freedom.