A kind and meditative man, Paul D's memories rival Sethe's in their shocking nature. However, whereas Sethe's past continues to dominate her, Paul D has begun to move beyond his past and to envision a future of hope. His entrance into Sethe's life represents the potential for a happier future for her and Denver.
Because he came from her past and shares some of the experiences that haunt her, Sethe can open herself up to Paul D and find some relief in sharing the burden of her memories. Sethe is drawn to the promise of happiness that she finds with Paul D, but Beloved's arrival stops her movement toward what he represents. Intelligent and perceptive, Paul D recognizes the danger in Beloved's presence but is unable to do anything about it. All he can do is challenge Sethe's vision of herself and her children. In the end, after Beloved leaves, you sense that Paul D will provide a healing force for Sethe, again offering her the possibility of a brighter future and helping her learn to love herself.