Why did Paul D go to prison in Beloved and what were his reactions to the conditions?

Quick answer:

Paul D was forced to work in the hot sun breaking rocks into smaller rocks until he broke his hand. When he tried to kill the man who had bought him, he went to prison for three years. He was humiliated and beaten even by the guards. He still suffered after he came home from prison, but in the end, he is able to find love in a place where people can't be bought and sold.

Expert Answers

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Paul D went to prison in Alfred, Georgia when he tried to kill the man the schoolteacher sold him to. To say that the conditions were inhumane would be an incredible understatement. These men were subjected to the worst kinds of humiliation and degradation imaginable. Paul D recalls how the white guards would taunt and then sexually assault the black prisoners, asking if the prisoners wanted breakfast and then forcing them to perform oral sex on the guards. At the time, seeing this happen to a man next to him, Paul D "retched—vomiting up nothing at all," and he was struck violently with a rifle.

As a result of Paul D's experiences there, "he had shut down a generous portion of his head, operating on the part that helped him walk, eat, sleep, sing." It was enough for him to do those things. He would recall "trembling in a box built into the ground" and felt that the place "drove him crazy so he would not lose his mind." He even developed a palsy during this time in prison. During the day, he would break feldspar, a kind of rock used to manufacture various items like glass, paint, rubber, and so on. It would have been absolutely back-breaking labor in the very hot, southern, sun. His experience made him "love small," only picking out very small things about the world to love because he knew that everything could be taken away from him at any moment.

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