"Risky, thought Paul D, very risky. For a used-to-be-slave woman to love anything that much was dangerous, especially if it was her children she had settled on to love. The best thing, he knew, was to love just a little bit; everything, just a little bit, so when they broke its back, or shoved it in a croaker sack, well, maybe you'd have a little love left over for the next one" (Morrison 54). Paul D can't imagine why Sethe would give herself to love, when there is such a high chance of it being taken away. He has developed a system where he only loves a little here and there, because he can't stand to be hurt again. Paul D is paralyzed by fear, and Sethe gives in to that fear without a second thought.
"And in all those escapes he could not help being astonished by the beauty of this land that was not his. He hid in its breast, fingered its earth for food, clung to its banks to lap water and tried not to love it. On nights when the sky was personal, weak with the weight of its own stars, he made himself not love it. Its graveyards and lowlying rivers. Or just a house---solitary under a chinaberry tree; maybe a mule tethered and the light hitting its hide just so. Anything could stir him and he tried hard not to love it" (Morrison 316). Once more, Paul D does not allow himself to love somethings, not even an inanimate object. He has had so much taken from him that he believes that he could not bare the loss of losing anything, not even land. Sethe would have loved this land fiercely, but Paul D does not want to feel the immense pain of loss, even if that means giving up the joy of giving himself up to something he loves.
"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 this world could pry it open" (Morrison 133). Paul D feels too much pain when he thinks of what he has lost and what he has suffered through. So, he stuffs it away, out of sight and out of mind. But, by allowing all that terribleness to fester, it actually takes away his ability to love. He does not acknowledge his pain, so it does not go away. Sethe feels her pain, so she can love.