There are many symbols woven throughout Beloved, by Toni Morrison. Amongst those is Paul D’s tobacco tin box, which is a metaphorical replacement for his heart. Being a slave at Sugary food Home and a detainee at a camp in Alfred, Georgia, Paul D certainly deals with traumatizing events. These traumatizing events are figuratively manifested in Paul D’s tobacco tin box. In more abstract terms, the tobacco tin box represents the loss of connection between memories and psychological function. With a tobacco tin box as a metaphorical replacement for a heart for Paul D, Morrison highlights slavery’s destruction of identity.
Paul D’s traumatizing experience under the burden of an iron bit in his mouth cause him to lose his voice, and adopt of a feeling of uselessness. The iron bit is a manifestation of slavery’s destruction of identity because Paul D is restricted of his capability to talk. Most of our personality is shown by what we state or do, and by being severely limited in those locations, Paul D ends up with a reduced character. Paul D is naturally a kind and caring individual, but when “Paul D saw [Halle] and could not conserve or comfort him because the iron bit remained in his mouth”, his caring nature is destroyed (Morrison, 83). The iron bit is an important piece to Paul D’s tobacco tin box because “it put a wildness where before there wasn’t any” (Morrison, 84). The tin symbolically represents all extreme psychological changes that take place as a result of the scaries of slavery. For Paul D, that modification was a wildness that would remain for a while.
Paul D reaches 124 and begins to end up being more of the manly character that he aspires to be. After being dealt with as sub-human for the last several years, investing quality time with Sethe and Denver alter him for the much better. Although as soon as Paul D learns about Sethe’s doubtful past, there is no looking beyond that. Having a tobacco tin box as a heart, Paul D can not comprehend the sort of “thick love” that Sethe believes in for her children. Being abused, humiliated, and tortured, Paul D remains unsusceptible to any feelings of love. This belongs to of the emotional dysfunction that Paul D suffers on a daily basis. Paul D states, “You got 2 feet, Sethe, not four” (Morrison, 194). The knowledge of Sethe’s harsh actions is yet another item contributed to the tobacco tin.
Paul D as a character is naturally inclined to be kind and feel sympathy for those he likes, but his tobacco tin deprives him of that. Scraping away all that was left of his original identity, all he can do is part with Sethe, “locking the distance in between them, offering it shape and heft” (Morrison, 194). The work as a whole locations excellent focus on the trials of abandonment and desperation that Paul D goes through. His parting with Sethe is stacked up with all the rest, lying in his tobacco tin box. The opening of Paul D’s tobacco tin represents how past scaries can always return to haunt us. With Precious breaching an increasing threat on Paul D’s sanity, an emotional revolution impended for Paul D. Beloved’s sexual pressure and Paul D’s uncontrollable impulse for connection interrupts his psychological stagnation, and pries open the lid of his tobacco tin. Paul D is left repeating, “Red heart. Red heart” (Morrison, 138). It was a deep, haunting, and emotional connection which provoked such modification in heart for Paul D, which closely lines up with slavery’s long-lasting hinderances to the heart. Paul D’s encounter with Cherished represents more than just a physical event. Beloved, a figure from the past, stimulates Paul D’s heart painfully, just as when he reflects about shocking experiences. The opening of his tobacco tin is important to the work as a whole because it strengthens the idea that even something so dull and stagnant can be taken advantage of by slavery.
With a tobacco tin box as a metaphorical replacement for a heart for Paul D, Morrison highlights slavery’s damage of identity. Paul D is a prime example for a man who had their own real identity eliminated involuntarily. With no way of revealing a tip of feeling that utilized to be there, the tobacco tin box ends up being a symbolic location in the heart where all connections, feelings, hope, and desperations put to rest. The sign is an effective manifestation of all things frightening in slavery, and most significantly, the severe destruction of one’s identity.