Paul D is living in the basement of the church. He remembers how the Sweet Home slaves had to alter their escape plans so that they did not all meet in the corn, as planned. Halle heard the call that it was time and had to somehow inform Sethe, who was stuck in the house with Mrs. Garner, who was ill. Paul A had disappeared, and Sixo was tied up during the day to keep him from escaping to his girlfriend, who lived thirty miles away. Paul D met Sixo and the Thirty-Mile-Woman in the dry riverbed, but they were captured. Sixo was burned alive, but he was singing the whole time because his pregnant girlfriend had escaped.
Paul D was brought back to Sweet Home in chains. Sethe came to see him, telling him she could not find Halle and had sent the children on ahead with the Underground Railroad. Paul D believes that just after Sethe spoke to him, the schoolteacher's nephews held her down in the barn and nursed her, which led to her being beaten for telling Mrs. Garner. Halle had been hiding in the barn to try to alert Sethe to the fact that it was time to escape, so he saw the whole thing and went crazy. Sethe, who had to get her milk to her nursing child, escaped on her own, even though she was about to have another baby. The small alterations in their plans, due to Sethe's pregnancy and her responsibilities to Mrs. Garner and Sixo being tied up for visiting his girlfriend, made everything go wrong. Because of the schoolteacher measuring her animal characteristics, the boys milking her, the beating, and Halle not coming, Sethe could not allow her children to be taken back to slavery. So, it is possible the tragedy of Sethe killing her children might have been avoided if the plans had not needed to be changed just a little bit.
Now, Stamp Paid comes to visit Paul D at the church. He tells him how he changed his name to Stamp Paid after his master took his wife as a mistress for a year. He also asks about Beloved, and they try to figure out who she is.
All the pieces come together in this chapter, and it is finally clear what happened as they tried to escape Sweet Home. In this section, it is clear that an action that seems unbelievable to non-slaves-killing one's own child-came as a result of slavery and not as a result of Sethe's own character. People are created by the circumstances they are in. If one little thing had been different, perhaps everything would have been different. The white people who enslaved Sethe, the black community who didn't warn her, and the entire system is complicit in the death of her child. Sethe, however, has been blamed for everyone's sins.
When Stamp Paid took on that name, he did so because he felt he had paid his dues by letting his wife be taken away by his master without complaint. He did this because his wife asked him not to say anything. By renaming himself, he is taking some control over his life, just as he later takes control by helping slaves escape.