A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings

by

Marlon James

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Papa-Lo, whose given name is Raymond Clarke, is the don of Copenhagen City when the book begins, having been in this role since 1960. Both feared and beloved by the people, he is credited with transforming Copenhagen City into a more habitable place and eradicating rape from the neighborhood due to his own zero-tolerance attitude toward sexual violence. The opening of the novel sees him troubled by his conscience and hopeful that the violence in Kingston might one day end. This is partly caused by his close friendship with the Singer, who inspires him to embrace peace. Papa-Lo is also troubled by the actions of Josey, his head enforcer, who he believes is making plans behind his back. At this point, there are rumors circulating that Papa-Lo is “going soft,” and that he is disturbed by having killed a boy who turned out to be a hard-working high school student with lots of potential. However, Papa-Lo himself admits that he is troubled not by his guilt over killing the boy, but by his lack of feeling about it. After the shooting at the Singer’s house, Papa-Lo is arrested along with his rival, Shotta Sherrif. In prison, the two men agree to draw up a peace treaty in an attempt to end the brutality afflicting Kingston. However, this peace treaty ultimately fails to succeed, and in 1979 Papa-Lo is shot and killed by the police.

Papa-Lo Quotes in A Brief History of Seven Killings

The A Brief History of Seven Killings quotes below are all either spoken by Papa-Lo or refer to Papa-Lo. 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 3 Quotes

I remember when that was the only place any man, no matter what side you on, could escape a bullet. The only place in Kingston where the only thing that hit you was music. But the fucking people soil it up with bad vibes, better if they did just go into the studio one morning and shit all over the console, me no going say who.

Related Characters: Papa-Lo (speaker), The Singer
Related Symbols: The Singer’s House, Guns
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 6 Quotes

But who win West Kingston win Kingston and who win Kingston, win Jamaica and in 1974, the PNP unleash two beast from out of Jungle, a man called Buntin-Banton and another named Dishrag. PNP was never going win West Kingston, a fact then and a fact now, so they pull a jim-screachy, they create a whole new district and call it Central Kingston, and pile they people in it. Who they have run it? Buntin-Banton and Dishrag. Before them two, war in the ghetto was a war of knife. They gang did number thirty strong cutting through Kingston on red and black motorcycle, buzz buzz buzzing like an army of bees. Then the Buntin-Banton Dishrag gang attack we at a funeral me know right there that the game done have new rule now. People think it way past the time when anybody can remember who start things first, but don’t get the history of the ghetto twist up, decent people. Buntin-Banton and Dishrag start it first. And when PNP win the 1972 election all hell break loose.

Related Characters: Papa-Lo (speaker)
Page Number: 152-153
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 9 Quotes

Today is the day we revoke the Singer's visa because he's suspected of trafficking drugs into the United States of America. Shouldn’t be hard to prove really, just check his back pocket. We're supposed to make a big, public
show of it, a sign that we, as a friend of Jamaica, will not sit by and allow lawlessness to take control of our gracious ally. I already wrote the press release, signed off by higher up. We also have proof that he has consorted with known drug traffickers in Miami and New York and has aligned himself with men of questionable character in Jamaica and abroad, including at least two local terrorists. This has already been documented. One of them, calling himself Shotta Sherrif twice tried for murder, is even closely linked to the present government.

Related Characters: Barry Diflorio (speaker), The Singer, Papa-Lo, Shotta Sherrif
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3, Chapter 3 Quotes

Plenty woman-killer remember Mother’s Day.

Related Characters: Papa-Lo (speaker)
Page Number: 340
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Get the entire A Brief History of Seven Killings LitChart as a printable PDF.
A Brief History of Seven Killings PDF

Papa-Lo Character Timeline in A Brief History of Seven Killings

The timeline below shows where the character Papa-Lo 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
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Bam-Bam makes it all the way to Copenhagen City, where he runs into Papa-Lo and his men. They know that Bam-Bam has come from the Eight Lanes, but they... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Papa-Lo says he warned the Singer that some of the Singer’s friends want to take him... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
...him, although the Singer managed to talk them into putting them away. The Singer told Papa-Lo about this while they were planning the peace concert. Many people are wary of the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
...The Singer visits Copenhagen City, and after greeting a large group of residents he and Papa-Lo go to Papa-Lo’s house to talk in private. People are suspicious of the close relationship... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
...gives him a gun and asks if he is ready to be a man. Whereas Papa-Lo is a meticulous planner, Josey is spontaneous. Bam-Bam follows Josey down to the south shore... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
...Bertrand Russell and this made him an atheist, which Josey doesn’t like. Weeper says that Papa-Lo is getting soft, but Josey thinks he’s just getting old. Although Papa-Lo is only 39,... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 9:
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
...A taxi driver told Alex that he saw the Singer at the horse races with Papa-Lo, so Alex does some research, learning about Papa-Lo and Copenhagen City. He then discovers the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 11
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
...Bam-Bam got a gun. Bam-Bam’s girlfriend is newly cautious around him. There are rumors that Papa-Lo went to England to follow the Singer’s tour, and that Funnyboy was there too. The... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Back in Copenhagen City, Papa-Lo is furious, asking “who give Josey Wales and Weeper permission” to shoot up Rema. Papa-Lo... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Two weeks before the election, Papa-Lo sends the gang to each house to “remind people how to vote.” When a teenager... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 13
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
People in the ghetto are treating Papa-Lo like an “old man.” There are rumors that Papa-Lo is turning away from violence, and... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Papa-Lo admits that the Singer is friends with both him and Shotta Sherrif, though he interacts... (full context)
Part 2, Sir Arthur George Jennings
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
...but he tells her to go back to bed. The other man tells Peter that Papa-Lo and Shotta Sherrif have both stopped eating pork. It is revealed that this other man... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Papa-Lo recalls a rehearsal at the Singer’s house a few weeks ago, when a white boy... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Papa-Lo has only had one hour’s sleep; something is troubling his spirit. He feels that Cubans... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Papa-Lo explains that the PNP have never gone into the ghetto voluntarily, and that it was... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
...Josey retaliated by burning down Lane Number Six and killing everyone in Lane Number Seven. Papa-Lo and Josey killed the men the PNP had hired to begin the ghetto war. That... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Papa-Lo still feels restless; he feels that something is especially wrong today. The JLP will do... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Back in January, Josey went into Trench Town with Doctor Love and one other man. Papa-Lo warned Josey he was crazy to be going in with no backup, but the next... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
On May 19, Josey and Doctor Love took Papa-Lo to watch them set off an explosion in the Orange Lane tenement. From May to... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Papa-Lo and Josey have stopped talking, and Papa-Lo reflects that it is strange that he now... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Just as Papa-Lo is about to get to Josey’s house, a spray of bullets cuts across the path... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 19
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
...he is dead to her and then begins crying “Rape!” knowing that this will bring Papa-Lo to her rescue. (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 1
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
...Kim-Marie Burgess is a finalist for Miss Jamaica 1979. She glances at an article about Papa-Lo and Shotta Sherrif, all while urging herself not to look.  (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 3
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Papa-Lo is driving along the coast with Tony Pavarotti. He and Josey no longer talk. Two... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Tony shoots the man in the head, and Papa-Lo shoots the boy. Recently Shotta Sherrif suggested that he and Papa-Lo kidnap Mick Jagger and... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Papa-Lo and Shotta Sherrif began playing dominos together in prison. In January 1978, Papa-Lo was released,... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
During Papa-Lo’s first days in prison, he was beaten “round the clock.” However, Papa-Lo retaliated by targeting... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
One of the boys, Leggo Beast, was being hidden by his mother; Papa-Lo beat the woman and exiled her from Copenhagen City. He put Leggo Beast in a... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Papa-Lo asks Josey Wales for an explanation; Josey responds that Papa-Lo is stupid to believe anything... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Papa-Lo and Tony take Leggo Beast and two other men involved in the shooting to the... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Papa-Lo asks for the Singer’s thoughts, but the manager replies that he speaks for the Singer.... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
One of the other tied-up men disagrees, saying it was Bam-Bam who shot Rita. Papa-Lo struggles to concentrate, his mind drifting away. He declares that the court finds the men... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Papa-Lo keeps seeing a spectral white man present with him. The bodies of the hanged men... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
The officers shoot Papa-Lo’s men as well, and Papa-Lo’s thoughts become increasingly scattered and nonsensical. He has visions of... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
...ask a question like that.” Alex did find out about Shotta’s time in prison with Papa-Lo. At the end of the interview, Shotta told Alex that the treaty simply had to... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
...promising they wouldn’t give up information to the police or government anymore. When Alex interviewed Papa-Lo, he was evasive, but admitted that “the peace over.” However, he refused to clarify what... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
As Alex was leaving Papa-Lo, he walked into two men, who took him to Josey Wales’ house. Josey pointed out... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
...brushed him off, saying people should leave the Singer alone. Josey said that thanks to Papa-Lo, people are “living fine in the ghetto,” with a proper sewer system. However, Josey went... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 5
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Papa-Lo comes to Josey’s house and pleads with him to take the peace treaty seriously. Josey... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
It seems as if Papa-Lo is trying to do “penance” for the shooting at the Singer’s house. Knowing this, Josey... (full context)
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Then one day Papa-Lo came bursting through Josey’s door telling him that the Singer took Heckle on tour with... (full context)
Part 4, Sir Arthur George Jennings
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
...toe. The Singer is in Jamaica, recording a new song in the studio. Jennings describes Papa-Lo’s death at the hands of the police. The person who killed Jennings pays the Wang... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 3
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
...took place, Shotta Sherrif asked Tristan to be “chairman of the peace council.” Shotta and Papa-Lo went to England to persuade the Singer to put on a second peace concert. Tristan... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 6
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
...Promotions sold footage of the second peace concert to stations around the world. Tristan called Papa-Lo, who insisted he had no knowledge of this, and warned him: “Pull your leash on... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 12
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
...treaty had a tiny chance of success, but even that tiny chance was seductive. When Papa-Lo and others involved in the peace council were killed, Tristan knew that it wasn’t the... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 1
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
...His son Benjy took over as don of Copenhagen City, and set about organizing the Papa-Lo Memorial Commemorative Annual Cricket Match. (full context)