One of my favorite examples of figurative language used in the novel is when Paul D describes his heart as a “tin tobacco box.” After his traumatizing experiences at Sweet Home and, especially, at the prison camp in Georgia, he locks away his feelings and horrors from his past in this box, which, by the time Paul D arrives at 124, “rusted” over completely.
This is a comment on trauma. This way of dealing with trauma is so different then how Sethe deals with trauma. I thought it was so interesting that Paul D has to completely cut off his past whereas Sethe can’t seem to escape her own past. I thought the metaphor of a box rusted over was a very thought out way to express Paul D’s emotions.
By hiding from his emotions, Paul D hopes to preserve himself from further psychological damage. Paul D sacrifices much of his humanity by letting go of his feelings and gives up much of his self by repressing his memories.
Trauma is unique for every person even when they share some similar situations. Toni Morrison does a wonderful job of representing how trauma is a completely personal experience.