Beloved

Paul D’s Tobacco Tin Symbol Analysis

Paul D’s Tobacco Tin Symbol Icon
Paul D 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.

Paul D’s Tobacco Tin Quotes in Beloved

The Beloved quotes below all refer to the symbol of Paul D’s Tobacco Tin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Slavery Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Beloved published in 2004.
Part 1, Chapter 10 Quotes

It was some time before he could put Alfred, Georgia, Sixo, schoolteacher, Halle, his brothers, Sethe, Mister, the taste of iron, the sight of butter, the smell of hickory, notebook paper, one by one, into the tobacco tin lodged in his chest. By the time he got to 124 nothing in this world could pry it open.

Related Characters: Sethe, Paul D, Sixo
Related Symbols: Paul D’s Tobacco Tin
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercit

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Beloved quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Part 2, Chapter 24 Quotes

For years Paul D believed schoolteacher broke into children what Garner had raised into men. And it was that that made them run off. Now, plagued by the contents of his tobacco tin, he wondered how much difference there really was between before schoolteacher and after.

Related Characters: Paul D, Schoolteacher
Related Symbols: Paul D’s Tobacco Tin
Page Number: 260
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud ex

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire Beloved LitChart as a printable PDF.
Beloved.pdf.medium

Paul D’s Tobacco Tin Symbol Timeline in Beloved

The timeline below shows where the symbol Paul D’s Tobacco Tin appears in Beloved. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 7
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
...the experience of having the bit. He keeps the rest of the story in “that tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be.” He resolves to keep... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 10
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
...that it took him a long time to put this painful past away in the tobacco tin , so that “nothing in this world could pry it open.” (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 11
Storytelling, Memory, and the Past Theme Icon
...sleep with her. He refuses but she eventually seduces him. As she approaches him, the tobacco tin holding his painful memories begins to open. (full context)