We All Have Our Tobacco Tins

In Chapter 10 of Beloved, the narrator explains, “It was some time before [Paul D] 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” (Morrison).

Paul D grew up as a slave at Sweet Home. Although he is no longer a slave, he is burdened with the terrible memories of his past. Instead of dealing with these memories and emotions, he instead chooses to repress them and lock them deep inside of him.

In 2019, although we have not suffered through slavery, many of us have gone through traumatic experiences in our lives. Different people have different ways of coping with these experiences, but a common method is to avoid dealing with them all together. It can be easier to pretend that they don’t exist than to face the issue head on and the pain that inevitably comes with. Each of us would be lying if we said we had never once repressed a painful memory and locked it into our own personal tobacco tins. But as it is demonstrated in Beloved, there really is no escaping our pasts.

2 thoughts on “We All Have Our Tobacco Tins

  1. Mira A.

    This analysis of the tobacco tin is so intriguing. Before reading this analysis, I had thought that the tobacco tin was just just a tobacco tin. After reading your view on the symbolism of it, I completely see what you mean. The sentence that you quoted from the novel makes complete sense with your reference to the tobacco tin being a symbol of repressing hard or painful memories. I especially liked the sentence you wrote about each of us having our own tobaccos tins because ties your analysis back into the reader and allows us to connect to the book in an abstract way.


  2. Kirsten K

    I agree with you, the significance of the tobacco tin is much greater than I once thought. A way that some people cope with a traumatic experience is by burying our feelings inside of ourselves, in a “tobacco tin” as Paul D says. I had not thought as deeply about this connection before, but it is incredibly prevalent especially in the world today and the amount of terrible things that happen, we tend to just keep our feeling locked up.


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