Summary and Analysis
Stamp Paid, still faithful to his Christian calling, finds Paul D at the church, begs his pardon for interfering, and offers him shelter in any home in the black neighborhood. Paul D relieves Stamp Paid's anguish by admitting that Reverend Pike did open his residence to him. Paul D refused the offer because he preferred to be alone. Stamp Paid insists that his black neighbors are hospitable, even if they do react harshly to excesses of pride.
Trying to make amends for interfering with Paul D and Sethe's relationship, Stamp Paid tells Paul D about the anger that caused him to consider killing his wife, Vashti, for her months-long sexual relationship with her white owner. The humiliation he felt from his wife's relationship caused him to change his name from Joshua to Stamp Paid. He states that his desire to murder was as low as slavery ever made him.
As Paul D presses for information about Judy, a black neighbor who has offered to open her home to him, Stamp Paid interrupts with an eyewitness account of Sethe's infanticide. He declares, "She ain't crazy. She love those children. She was trying to outhurt the hurter." Stamp Paid presses Paul D about what he fears in 124. Paul D acknowledges that Beloved's abrupt appearance and behavior disturb him. His rapid calculation of a lifetime of suffering leaves him with one question, "How much is a nigger supposed to take?"
The communication between Stamp Paid and Paul D reveals that they both continue to struggle with the emotional upheaval caused by slavery. We've seen how Paul D is haunted by his slave experience, and here Stamp Paid shares the pain of the demoralizing humiliation of his wife's sexual enslavement to a white master who adorned her with a cameo and ribbon. Just as Paul D is unable to accept Sethe's murder of her daughter, Stamp Paid describes how he could not forgive his wife for her relationship with their white master. Additionally, like Paul D, Stamp Paid escaped slavery through a long journey. With a symbolic name and the determination to break for the North, he walked out of slavery and headed toward Memphis and ultimately Cumberland.
When Paul D questions the reason for human suffering and the extent to which a man must bear the burden, Stamp Paid, the stoic sage, remarks that humanity must suffer all it can tolerate.
I'm a take I'm going to take.