Paul D describes his heart as a “tin tobacco box.” After his traumatizing experiences at Sweet Home and, especially, at the prison camp in Alfred, Georgia, he locks away his feelings and memories in this “box,” which has, by the time Paul D arrives at 124, “rusted” over completely. By alienating himself from his emotions, Paul D hopes to preserve himself from further psychological damage. In order to secure this protection, however, Paul D sacrifices much of his humanity by foregoing feeling and gives up much of his selfhood by repressing his memories. Although Paul D is convinced that nothing can pry the lid of his box open, his strange, dreamlike sexual encounter with Beloved—perhaps a symbol of an encounter with his past—causes the box to burst and his heart once again to glow red.
North Dakota’s official state fruit is the chokecherry, a juicy red fruit grown throughout the state. While it has a somewhat unfortunate name, it’s so beloved in North Dakota that they even have an annual Chokecherry Festival in August. The chokecherry’s name is inspired by its bitter, astringent flavor, but as you may imagine, the fruit has run into some marketing issues (“this cherry’s so bitter, you could choke on it!”). As a result, the chokecherry sometimes commercially goes by “black cherry” instead. Head to the Town Square Farmer’s Market in Grand Forks for wild chokecherry mini pies.