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.