Masculinity, Self-Worth, Manhood. Paul D: Character Analysis

"He could not say to this woman who did not squint in the wind, 'I am not a man" (Morrison 151).


Noun: having qualities traditionally ascribed to strength, boldness, and aggressiveness; habits or traits that society considers to be appropriate for a MAN.

“The restraint they had exercised possible only because they were Sweet Home men - the ones Mr. Garner bragged about while other farmers shook their heads in warning at the phrase. ‘Y’all got boys,’ he told them. ‘Young boys, old boys, picky boys, stroppin boys. Now at Sweet Home, my niggers is men every one of them. Bought em thataway, raised em thataway. Men every one.’ ‘Beg to differ Garner. Ain’t no nigger men.’ ‘Not if you scared, they ain’t.’ Garner’s smile was wide. ‘But if you a man yourself, you’ll want niggers to be men too.’ ‘I wouldn’t have no nigger men round my wife” (Morrison 12).
“The last of the Sweet Home men, so named and called by one who would know, believed it. The other four believed it too, once, but they were long gone. The sold one never returned, the lost one never found. One, he knew, was dead for sure; one he hoped was, because butter and clabber was no life or reason to live it. He grew up thinking that, of all the Blacks in Kentucky, only the five of them were men. Allowed, encouraged to correct Garner, even defy him. To invent ways of doing things; to see what was needed and attack it without permission. To buy a mother, choose a horse of a wife, handle guns, even learn reading if they wanted to - but they didn’t want to since nothing important to them could be put down on paper” (Morrison 147).


Noun: the state or period of being a man rather than a child; men, especially those regarded collectively; qualities traditionally associated with men, such as courage, and sexual potency.

“Was that it? Is that where the manhood lay? In the naming done by a whiteman who was supposed to know? Who gave them the privilege not of working but of deciding how to? No. In their relationship with Garner was true metal: they were believed and trusted, but most of all they were listened to.

He thought what they said had merit, and what they felt was serious. Deferring to his slaves’ opinions did not deprive him of authority or power. It was schoolteacher who taught them otherwise. A truth that waved like a scarecrow in rye; they were only Sweet Home men at Sweet Home. One step off that ground and they were trespassers among the human race” (Morrison 148).


“His strength had lain in knowing that schoolteacher was wrong. Now he wondered… If schoolteacher was right it explained how he had come to be a rag doll - picked up and pack back down anywhere any time by a girl young enough to be his daughter” (Morrison 148).


“Hearing the three of them laughing at something he wasn’t in on. The code they used among themselves that he could not break. Maybe even the time spent on their needs and not his. They were a family somehow and he was not the head of it” (Morrison 155).
“The roaring in Paul D’s head did not prevent him from hearing the pat she gave to the last word, and it occurred to him that what she wanted for her children was exactly what was missing in 124: safety…. He thought he had made it safe, had gotten rid of the danger; beat the shit out of it; run it off the place and showed it and everybody else the difference between a mule and a plow…. He was wrong” (Morrison 193).

“He watched them with awe and envy, and each time he discovered large families of black people he made them identify over and over who each was, what relation, who, in fact, belonged to who… Nothing like that had ever been his” (Morrison 258).


“There’s a way to put it in there...

... and there's a way to take it out. I know em both and I haven't figured out yet which is worse" (Morrison 84).

“It was some time before he could put Alfred, Georgia, Sixo, schoolteacher, Halle, his brothers, Sethe, Mister, the taste of iron, the sight of butter, the smell of hickory, notebook paper, one by one, into the tobacco tin lodged in his chest. By the time he got to 124 nothing in the world could pry it open” (Morrison 133).


“Voices remind schoolteacher about the spoiling these particular slaves have had at Garner’s hands…. Now it faced greater ruin than what Garner left for it, because of the loss of two niggers, at the least, and maybe three because he is not sure they will find the one called Halle…. He would have to trade this here one for $900 if he could get it, and set out to secure the breeding one, her foal and the other one, if he found him. With the money from ‘this here one’ he could get two young ones, twelve or fifteen years old” (Morrison 267).
“Remembering his own price, down to the cent, that schoolteacher was able to get for him, he wondered what Sethe’s would’ve been. What had Baby Suggs’ been? How much did Halle owe, still, besides his labor? What did Mrs. Garner get for Paul F? More than nine hundred dollars? How much more? Ten dollars? Twenty? Schoolteacher would know. He knew the worth of everything” (Morrison 269).

“They had been isolated in a wonderful lie… protected and convinced they were special” (Morrison 260).


Created with images by PDGR - "deco heart romantic" • Maaark - "chain industry production" • jackmac34 - "farmer plantation manual work" • Unsplash - "woman carrying basket" • dtroyka - "Oaklawn Plantation" • Kumaravel - "Tea Plantations" • rightee - "Tea plantations" • Eduard V. Kurganov - "They Live, We Sleep" • Boesmantjie - "teacher word bible" • Marc Brüneke - "Evolution" • neico - "sunset landscape no" • Taken - "jail prison ruin" • Maaark - "wire prison the depth of the" • the_kid_cl - "jail" • Skitterphoto - "barbwire barbed wire wire" • Freeimages9 - "agriculture asia autumn" • jhusemannde - "handcuffs 8 black silver" • Editor B - "White Privilege" • jhusemannde - "handcuffs 8 black silver" • Hans - "gorilla monkey view" • ruffin_ready - "marble and wood checkers" • Billy Rowlinson - "Rag doll" • katgrigg - "Family" • 445693 - "mother child sculpture" • EarlRShumaker - "124" • EarlRShumaker - "124" • Slideshow Bruce - "nice ass" • girochantal - "plow former flea market" • giesje - "connected together 1child" • darkday. - "Tobacco Tin" • pumpkinmook - "tin man heart 2" • Hans - "coins cent specie" • skeeze - "money euros finance" • jordandemuth - "pounds gibraltar money" • jaychoi2770 - "cellphone slave shackles" • missy & the universe - "Zanzibar: Memory of Slaves" • victorgeere - "Fields of wheat"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.