A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings

by

Marlon James

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Josey Wales Character Analysis

Josey Wales begins the novel as Papa-Lo’s head enforcer, his right-hand man in running Copenhagen City. However, Josey––who is highly intelligent, cynical, and dishonest––is secretly plotting to kill the Singer behind Papa-Lo’s back. Josey’s decision to kill the Singer is based in his belief that peace is not a viable goal and his opposition to the growing power and influence of the Rastafarian movement. Josey collaborates with Doctor Love, Louis Johnson, and Mr. Clark, yet in front of the Americans he pretends to be unintelligent and hides his ability to speak Spanish. Despite this pretense, Josey prides himself on his intelligence. Unusually for a gangster, he is faithful to his girlfriend, Winifred, throughout the novel. Josey shoots the Singer himself but fails to kill him; he is deeply ashamed of this and goes to great lengths to keep it a secret. After the shooting, Josey’s power increases, and once Papa-Lo is killed he takes over as don of Copenhagen City. Before long, he also takes over as leader of the Storm Posse, which traffics and distributes cocaine from Colombia via Jamaica to the United States. He works closely with Weeper and theoretically also with Eubie, yet he (presciently) distrusts Eubie. Although so powerful that he becomes “untouchable” within Jamaica, Josey is eventually arrested and ordered to be extradited to the United States on a plethora of charges. He plans to cooperate and provide information to federal law enforcement and is confident this will afford him a light sentence; however, before he being transported to the United States the Medellín cartel orders Doctor Love to kill Josey in order to prevent him from snitching. After Doctor Love gives him a pill to knock him unconscious, Josey burns to death in his prison cell.

Josey Wales Quotes in A Brief History of Seven Killings

The A Brief History of Seven Killings quotes below are all either spoken by Josey Wales or refer to Josey Wales. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead edition of A Brief History of Seven Killings published in 2014.
Part 1, Chapter 8 Quotes

Nobody who kill a police going to hell but is something else to kill the singer. I let Josey Wales tell me that the Singer is a hypocrite, and he playing both sides taking everybody for idiot. I let Josey Wales tell me that he have bigger plans and is high time we done be ghetto stooge for white man who live uptown and don’t care about we until election time. I let Josey Wales tell me that the Singer is a PNP stooge who bow for the Prime Minister. I let Josey Wales tell me to shoot up three more line and I won’t care who.

Related Characters: Demus (speaker), The Singer, Josey Wales, Michael Manley
Related Symbols: Guns, Cocaine
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
Part 3, Chapter 4 Quotes

The second you say peace this and peace that, and let's talk about peace, is the second gunman put down their guns. But guess what, white boy. As soon as you put down your gun the policeman pull out his gun. Dangerous thing, peace. Peace make you stupid. You forget that not everybody sign peace treaty. Good times bad for somebody.

Related Characters: Josey Wales (speaker), Alex Pierce
Page Number: 387
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 3, Chapter 5 Quotes

No future for no dark girl in Jamaica, despite black power bullshit. I mean, look who just win Miss World.

Related Characters: Josey Wales (speaker)
Page Number: 423
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 4, Chapter 5 Quotes

Discernment. I could always look at a man and read him. Like Weeper. Is years now I know the man not only fucking man but is really the one getting

fuck, and no matter what he say, he still sorry to leave prison. Is years now I supposed to kill him for that, but why? It move my brain better to watch him fuck pussy after pussy as if battyman behaviour is something pool up in him sperm and if only he shoot out enough he will finally shoot out the need to put a cock in him battyhole. I don't know much 'bout them things and I don't read Bible. But if there is one thing I do know is when a man fooling himself. Is something to watch though.

Related Characters: Josey Wales (speaker), Weeper
Page Number: 466
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 4, Chapter 17 Quotes

- Like how your boy Weeper is a user.

- Weeper sniffing coke from as early as '75, that not nothing new.

- But new it is, Josey. Now him smoking crack and you and me know that crack is not coke. Can a man do good business even when him deh pon coke? Of course. Every man me know in the music biz a lick coke. Hookers and blow them call it, my youth. Back then the biz did even have a sort of class. But crack is different business. Every single dealer who switch from coke to crack mash up. You can’t hold a single thought on crack. You can't do no fucking business. Crack is you business.

Related Characters: Josey Wales (speaker), Eubie (speaker), Weeper
Related Symbols: Cocaine
Page Number: 551
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 4, Chapter 20 Quotes

Me don’t see Copenhagen City since '79 but me hear 'bout it. Brethren, is like them communist country you see 'pon the news. Poster and mural and painting of Papa-Lo and Josey all over the community. Woman naming them pickney Josey One and Josey Two, even though he not fucking nobody but him wife, no, they not married for real. In him own way, you could call him a classy brother. But still, you want to get Josey you have to mow down the entire Copenhagen City first, and even then. You also have to tear down this government too. What you mean, government? Come, man, Alex Pierce, who you think give this party the 1980 election?

Related Characters: Tristan Phillips (speaker), Alex Pierce, Papa-Lo, Josey Wales, Winifred
Page Number: 567
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire A Brief History of Seven Killings LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Josey Wales Character Timeline in A Brief History of Seven Killings

The timeline below shows where the character Josey Wales appears in A Brief History of Seven Killings. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
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...giving him a gun on his 12th birthday and nicknaming him “Bam-Bam.” Another man called Josey Wales teaches Bam-Bam how to shoot. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
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Josey Wales comes to visit Bam-Bam, and gives him a gun and asks if he is... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
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Waiting for Weeper, Josey muses on his disdain for Rastafarians. Weeper sleeps with all kinds of women, but Josey’s... (full context)
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...cocaine was the only way he could bring himself to have sex in prison, but Josey knows that Weeper still gets letters from the man he used to sleep with there.... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 8
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...charge of collecting the winnings disappeared, and Demus was left with nothing. At this point, Josey gives Demus cocaine, a gun, and money in exchange for killing people Josey wants dead.... (full context)
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However, Josey gives Demus more cocaine and Demus allows himself to be persuaded that the Singer is... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 10
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Josey thinks about Weeper’s uniqueness. Weeper passed three GCE subjects in school and has always read... (full context)
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Weeper believes in evolution, which provokes arguments between him and Josey. Josey hates when Weeper does cocaine while they’re “in the middle of business.” It makes... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 11
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Weeper tells Bam-Bam that Josey is making them go to Rema, another swing district, because there are rumors that people... (full context)
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Back in Copenhagen City, Papa-Lo is furious, asking “who give Josey Wales and Weeper permission” to shoot up Rema. Papa-Lo almost hits Josey, but instead tells... (full context)
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...Yet when the white men who bring guns come to the ghetto, they speak to Josey, not Papa-Lo. The Echo Squad, who guard the Singer’ house, are “bad man on PNP... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 13
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...her son had six GCEs and was going to get a scholarship to university, until Josey gun-butted her in the head. (full context)
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...months, Peter Nasser and two white men have been coming to the ghetto to see Josey. Papa-Lo recalls the turmoil of 1966, when a neighborhood called Balaclava fell “so that Copenhagen... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 16:
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Demus is inside a house by the sea with Josey Wales, Bam-Bam, Weeper, Heckle, Renton, Funky Chicken, and two men from Jungle whose names he... (full context)
Part 2, Sir Arthur George Jennings
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
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...Shotta Sherrif have both stopped eating pork. It is revealed that this other man is Josey Wales. A dead fireman is in the room too, a man who Josey killed while... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
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...somehow connected to Copenhagen City. Papa-Lo believes this too, assuming the boy is involved with Josey. At the same time, the Singer has so many enemies that this one white boy... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
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Josey sees Nina across the road from the Singer’s house and wonders if she is a... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6
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...voters if they were union members. However, they never came to Copenhagen City, and eventually Josey retaliated by burning down Lane Number Six and killing everyone in Lane Number Seven. Papa-Lo... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8
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Josey has an appointment with Doctor Love, a Cuban man. Both Peter Nasser and Louis Johnson... (full context)
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Josey met Doctor Love at Kingston Harbor. Doctor Love told Josey to duck, and shortly after... (full context)
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Back in the present, Josey picks up the book Weeper is reading: it is Bertrand Russell’s The Problems of Philosophy.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
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...especially wrong today. The JLP will do anything to win, and suddenly, Papa-Lo realizes what Josey is planning to do. He is so shocked he drops his glass of juice to... (full context)
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Back in January, Josey went into Trench Town with Doctor Love and one other man. Papa-Lo warned Josey he... (full context)
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On May 19, Josey and Doctor Love took Papa-Lo to watch them set off an explosion in the Orange... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
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Papa-Lo and Josey have stopped talking, and Papa-Lo reflects that it is strange that he now knows what... (full context)
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Just as Papa-Lo is about to get to Josey’s house, a spray of bullets cuts across the path in front of him, and police... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 17
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...get out of the shack that he is prepared to kill whoever opens the door. Josey arrives and slaps Bam-Bam to stop him screaming. (full context)
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Josey then opens one box filled with guns and another box filled with cocaine, and the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 18
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...shooting.” They arrive at the Singer’s house and Echo Squad are not standing guard outside. Josey jumps out of the car first and shoots the Singer. The Singer’s wife Rita runs... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 19
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...the car and starts running; no one knows where he is headed. Bam-Bam and then Josey also run off, leaving Demus alone. He starts to cry. He feels convinced that he... (full context)
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Josey approaches the house, along with Tony Pavarotti and two others whose names Demus doesn’t know.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 20
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 Bam-Bam hides in a pile of garbage while Josey and Weeper pass by. They get into a red car and drive away, and Bam-Bam... (full context)
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...what he did. Bam-Bam tries to sneak out of the crowd. He is sure that Josey is going to kill him, and feels as if the Singer is following him, haunting... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 22
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...they are going to bury him alive and internally begs Weeper to just shoot him. Josey urinates on him and Pavarotti begins filling the grave. As the dirt pours in, Bam-Bam’s... (full context)
Part 3, Sir Arthur George Jennings
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...thoughts are scattered and nonsensical; he doesn’t want to be dead and wants to kill Josey Wales. Eventually, the Rastas drag Demus to a “fortress wall of Rastamen” wearing weapons and... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 3
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Papa-Lo is driving along the coast with Tony Pavarotti. He and Josey no longer talk. Two years ago Papa-Lo was arrested and taken to prison. With Tony’s... (full context)
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...Beast confessed details about the ambush, such as the fact that they were trained by Josey and a white man from the CIA. The white man told them that they were... (full context)
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Papa-Lo asks Josey Wales for an explanation; Josey responds that Papa-Lo is stupid to believe anything Leggo Beast... (full context)
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...not all of the culprits are present. Leggo Beast claims that he was brainwashed by Josey Wales and the CIA. He then names the other perpetrators of the attack: Demus, Weeper,... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4
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As Alex was leaving Papa-Lo, he walked into two men, who took him to Josey Wales’ house. Josey pointed out that Alex had been asking a lot of questions and... (full context)
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Alex asked Josey how the Singer would “react to all this,” but Josey brushed him off, saying people... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 5
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Josey believes the Singer shouldn’t have come back to Jamaica. He is distrustful of the peace... (full context)
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After the attack on the Singer’s house, Peter Nasser called Josey and furiously asked how he could be “the first man in history to shoot somebody... (full context)
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Josey goes to the Lady Pink Go-Go Club with Peter Nasser. The two men discuss the... (full context)
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...Johnson left for Argentina, a new American called Mr. Clark replaced him. In April 1978 Josey met Mr. Clark and Doctor Love at Morgan’s Harbor, “the hotel for white people over... (full context)
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Mr. Clark then described the supposed epidemic of late-term abortions in East Germany. He warned Josey that Jamaica was in danger of turning into Cuba or “worse, East Germany” within a... (full context)
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Papa-Lo comes to Josey’s house and pleads with him to take the peace treaty seriously. Josey is shocked to... (full context)
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...Papa-Lo is trying to do “penance” for the shooting at the Singer’s house. Knowing this, Josey gave him Leggo Beast so Papa-Lo could “make an example” out of him. When Leggo... (full context)
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Josey is at home waiting for the phone to ring. He chats to his 12-year-old son.... (full context)
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Then one day Papa-Lo came bursting through Josey’s door telling him that the Singer took Heckle on tour with him. Apparently Heckle had... (full context)
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Josey hangs up and another of his men rings, this time telling Josey that Tristan Phillips,... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 2
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Weeper has to go to the airport; in nine hours Josey is landing on a plane from Jamaica. Josey is coming to see a particular crack... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 3
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...was not ambitious enough, and only ever focused on defending their territory from the JLP. Josey Wales, on the other hand, had ambition.   (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 5
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Josey thinks that just because Weeper has “read a few books” doesn’t mean he is really... (full context)
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Josey no longer cares what happens in Jamaica; his attention is being called elsewhere. Weeper doesn’t... (full context)
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The rival Jamaican gangs in New York––Ranking Dons, Blood Rose, and Hot Steppers––are gunning for Josey’s territory. In 1982 Josey sent Weeper after Tristan Phillips and was told by one of... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 6
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...the peace council had a real office in the Singer’s house. Once, the Singer saw Josey Wales leaving the peace council office, and furiously asked Tristan what he was doing there.... (full context)
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...who insisted he had no knowledge of this, and warned him: “Pull your leash on Josey Wales or me will do it for you.” (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 9
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Josey’s girlfriend Winifred is packing his bag when the phone rings; it’s Eubie. He asks if... (full context)
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Eubie tells Josey that he has not been able to get in touch with Weeper. Eubie is alarmed... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 10
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...penetrated. The phone rings, and once again Weeper ignores it. He tells himself that when Josey arrives in New York he will see that Weeper is doing such a good job... (full context)
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...it; it’s Eubie. Eubie says the plan has changed and that he will now collect Josey from the airport. In addition, Josey now wants to check out the operation in Bushwick.... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 12
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...tourist and claiming that he knows “the real Jamaica.” After the Singer warned Tristan about Josey Wales, he began to worry. He insists that he was never naïve and always knew... (full context)
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With Shotta Sherrif dead, the path was cleared for Josey to take over crack distribution in New York. Tristan has heard that Josey is even... (full context)
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...anyone. At the end of this story, Tristan observes that Alex jumps whenever Tristan mentions Josey Wales’ name.    (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 13
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...find other work. He adds: “Your dealers ain’t dealing.” Weeper panics over the fact that Josey is going to be there in a few hours. Meanwhile the mother is still following... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 16
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Tristan again questions Alex suspiciously about what he is actually writing. He tells Alex that Josey Wales is arriving in New York that very day, and Alex suddenly goes quiet. Tristan... (full context)
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...1979, and Tristan mulls over his story, reasoning that if Pavarotti was after Alex then, Josey must have sent him. Alex tells Tristan he doesn’t know why Josey would want him... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 17
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Josey is at JFK airport. At customs, he watches two Jamaicans get taken off to be... (full context)
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Driving through Queens, they go over a pothole, which makes Josey jump. Everyone in the car laughs, and Josey is silently furious. They drive up to... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 20
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Tristan indicates it’s unlikely that Josey has flown to New York six years after Tony Pavarotti’s death to kill Alex himself.... (full context)
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Tristan emphasizes that Josey is too big to go to jail. If anyone wants to get to Josey, they... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 21
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Josey feels that Bushwick is just another ghetto no better than the ghetto in Kingston. Eubie... (full context)
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Romeo suggests that Weeper has probably gone home because it has been a busy day. Josey asks him how long he’s been working as a runner, and Romeo replies: “About five... (full context)
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Eubie and Josey walk over to the crack house, and Eubie excuses himself to pee. While he is... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 22
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Weeper and Eubie follow Josey into the crack house. They pass one man lying flat on the ground with blood... (full context)
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Eventually Josey walks out of the house into the nighttime darkness; Weeper and Eubie follow. Josey puts... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 24
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...adds that she is stupid for trying to kill him, considering what will happen when Josey finds out. He asks John-John what Griselda is paying him and offers to double it.... (full context)
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Weeper is deflated; he realizes that Josey will assume the Ranking Dons killed him and will never realize that it was actually... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 1
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...chapters, the narrator is not identified in the chapter title. Griselda Blanco has disappeared, and Josey Wales is in prison awaiting extradition to the US on charges of “murder, racketeering, obstructing... (full context)
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Benjy may have been Josey’s son, but he grew up in a life of luxury, and thus didn’t take sufficient... (full context)
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...organize a truce and organized peace marches through the church. 20,000 people attended Benjy’s funeral. Josey tried to leave prison to attend but was not allowed. The narrator remarks that it’s... (full context)
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The Cali cartel determined that Josey was “badass” enough to be given the UK. Last year, Josey’s daughter and her boyfriend... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 4
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In prison, Doctor Love asks Josey if he ever thinks about the past, and Josey replies: “No. You know I never... (full context)
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Doctor Love tells Josey he is the smartest man he’s ever known. Josey asks if “this family quarrel” has... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 5
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Suddenly, Millicent asks if Josey Wales’s gang shot the woman’s husband. The wife replies that it was Storm Posse who... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 7
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Josey is pacing inside his cell, and Doctor Love wonders if he’s about to pull out... (full context)
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Doctor Love looks around the prison cell and observes that it’s falling apart. Josey tells him that Peter Nasser tried to threaten him, worried that Josey is about to... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 8
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...a gunman before, and explaining that she grew up in Havendale. The woman says that Josey Wales is supposedly going to “Yankee prison for a good while,” but that she’ll believe... (full context)
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The wife adds that Josey’s “wickedness” has come back to him, as both his daughter and Benjy have been killed.... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 10
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Josey has thrown his mattress at Doctor Love and is now trying to wrench the sink... (full context)
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Doctor Love tells Josey not to give up the information he’s planning on giving. Josey says his lawyer has... (full context)
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Doctor Love goes to leave, and as he does so he gives Josey some pills. He explains that whoever sent him wanted Josey to suffer, and that he... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 11
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...asks why Alex waited so long to publish the story. Alex explains he waited until Josey Wales was in prison. Eubie is surprised that Alex thinks just because Josey is in... (full context)
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...how it turns out. Eubie says Alex can keep all the stuff about Jamaica and Josey Wales, but he should take out all the parts about New York. Eubie doesn’t want... (full context)
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Eventually, Alex reveals that it was Josey who shot the Singer. Alex explains he figured it out because he interviewed Josey and... (full context)
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Eubie shoots Alex in the foot and Alex starts screaming. Eubie says that Josey is “the most psychotic son of a bitch I ever come ‘cross in my life,... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 12
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...headline: “JOSEY WALES FOUND BURNED TO DEATH IN PRISON CELL.” There is an image of Josey’s burnt body, which looks like it has “melted.” The man behind the counter turns up... (full context)