Part Two: Chapters 22-25

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Last Updated on April 11, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 806

Chapter 22

Beloved narrates a specific memory she has, which always appears to her in unclear fragments. She remembers crouching among the bodies of dead slaves. White men, whom she refers to as “men without skin,” give her and the other slaves urine to drink. She spots a woman with a familiar face and a slave collar around her neck, wishing she could bite the collar off. She sees dead men being thrown into the sea.

Eventually, Beloved finds herself surfacing from the water, traveling to a house where she finds Sethe. She says that Sethe is “the face that left her.”

Chapter 23

The voices of Sethe, Beloved, and Denver commingle and alternate. Beloved is determined not to lose Sethe again. Sethe asks her if she has come back from the other side and if she still remembers her; Beloved confirms that she has and tells her that Sethe’s face is hers. Sethe assures Beloved that the white men will never come back for her, especially after what she has done to ensure they stay away. Beloved asks about the crystal earrings she once had, and Sethe tells her the white men took them.

Denver continues to urge Beloved not to love their mother too much. She warns her about the nightmares and not to sleep when Sethe is braiding their hair. The three of them continue to exchange expressions of love and devotion to each other, asserting repeatedly “You are mine.”

Chapter 24

Sitting on the porch of the church, Paul D takes to drinking. He recalls meeting four extended families of slaves living in Maryland who nevertheless managed to keep together. In contrast, he has no memories of his parents and only knows his two half-brothers—Paul A and Paul F. He reflects on the difference between schoolteacher and Mr. Garner. He used to believe Mr. Garner had molded them into men and that the schoolteacher broke them. Now, he wonders if he could have been a man anyway, in a different place, without the need for permission from a white man.

 Memories of their failed escape attempt from Sweet Home flood his head. It was Sixo who had set up the plan to escape. They planned carefully and stowed away various items. Nevertheless, they ended up having to modify their plans for various reasons, such as Sethe’s pregnancy, and Sixo being tied up at night for stealing a sheep. Although Sixo and Paul D made it to the rendezvous point, Paul A and Halle were nowhere to be found. Soon thereafter, they were caught by the schoolteacher and his men. 

Sixo began to sing and attempted to fight back. Even when tied up, Sixo did not stop singing, leading the schoolteacher to conclude that he is no longer suitable for slavery. They set Sixo up to burn, but the fire is too weak. When Sixo wakes up amid the flames, he starts to laugh and shout “Seven-o! Seven-o!” The men shoot him.

Paul D overhears the schoolteacher’s conversation and learns the price of his life: nine-hundred dollars. He begins to weigh this against everyone else’s life, such as Sethe, who costs more as a woman; he wonders what everyone else’s price was. Taken back to the farm, he sees Sethe, who tells him that she is still planning to escape.

Chapter 25

Back in the present, Stamp Paid visits Paul D at the church and apologizes for the community’s neglect in offering him shelter. He assures Paul D that everyone is willing to take him in as long; all he must do is ask. As an apology...

(This entire section contains 806 words.)

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for showing him the newspaper clip, he decides to tell Paul D two things.

The first thing is the story of how he got his name: Stamp Paid was originally named Joshua and had a wife named Vashti. At some point, Vashti and Stamp’s master’s son started having an affair. In his discomfort, Stamp Paid searched for the son’s wife and asked her about Vashti’s whereabouts. The woman’s embarrassed reaction intimated that she already had knowledge of the affair. The affair continued until, one day, Vashti simply came home and told him it was over. At that moment, Stamp Paid had a strong urge to kill his wife but decided to change his name instead.

The second thing he tells Paul D is that he was there when Sethe tried to kill her children. He assures him that she was not crazy and was merely trying to beat white people at their game. Both of them eventually talk about the existence of Beloved. Stamp Paid asks Paul D if Beloved spooked him and if she was the reason he ran away. Paul D asks him how much one person has to endure. Stamp Paid replies, “All he can.”


Part Two: Chapters 19-21


Part Three: Chapters 26-28