Pages 263–275: Summary and Analysis
Paul D returns, reversing the path by which he left: coldhouse to storeroom, storeroom to kitchen, kitchen to bed. Here Boy is home again, a sign that Beloved is surely gone. Stamp Paid says the house is quiet now and Miss Bodwin is going to sell it. Her brother, although against the sale, will not stop her. Mr. Bodwin is still unaware of the attempt on his life, having been mesmerized by the naked black woman on the porch while the scuffle to save him was on.
Paul D asks Denver about her mother. Denver says she’s not all right and that Paul D must be careful how he speaks to her. When he gets to the house and finally finds Sethe in the storeroom by following the sound of her humming, it is clear she is laying in bed dying. He recognizes her state from what she had told him about Baby Suggs deciding to die and becomes very angry.
Sethe cries that her best thing—Beloved—is gone. Paul D tells her that SHE, herself, is her best thing and that they need some tomorrows together for they have had too many yesterdays together. Beloved is slowly forgotten, even by those who loved/hated her.
Stamp Paid and Paul D have a joint fit of hysterical laughter as they discuss Sethe’s attempt on Bodwin’s life. This seems appropriate, not for the macabre jokes they make, but because she has ironically attempted to kill the man who kept her alive when she was being tried for Beloved’s murder. It is Denver, whose life was saved by Stamp Paid when she was a baby all those years ago, who is one of the first women to wrestle Sethe down (although it was Ella who punched Sethe on the jaw) in order to protect the man who had protected Sethe, now his attempted murderer. It seems that the life cycles have come full circle now. If, indeed, Beloved is the embodied spirit of Sethe’s murdered child come back to take revenge on Sethe, what better revenge than to have Sethe kill the man who had saved her life?