A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings

by

Marlon James

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Tristan Phillips Character Analysis

Tristan is a Rasta imprisoned in Rikers Island prison and interviewed by Alex while serving his sentence. Born in Balaclava, a since-destroyed slum in Kingston, he refers to himself as half-black, half-“coolie” and makes jokes about his mixed-race identity. He is a member of the Ranking Dons, although he laments this because he believes the gang is a mess. Back in Jamaica, Tristan had been recruited by Shotta Sherrif to be the chair of the peace council, and notes that he and a woman named Lucy were the only people involved in the peace council who did not end up dead. After being released from prison, he becomes addicted to crack cocaine.

Tristan Phillips Quotes in A Brief History of Seven Killings

The A Brief History of Seven Killings quotes below are all either spoken by Tristan Phillips or refer to Tristan Phillips. 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 4, Chapter 3 Quotes

Even my Rasta brethren laugh 'bout it, saying when the Black Star Liner finally come to take us to Africa, they going have to chop me in half. Man, what you know about the Jamaica runnings? Sometimes I think being a half coolie worse than being a battyman. This brown skin girl look 'pon me one time and say how it sad that after all God go through to give me pretty hair him curse me with that skin. The bitch say to me all my dark skin do is remind her that me forefather was a slave. So me say me have pity for you too. Because all your light skin do is remind me that your great-great-grandmother get rape.

Related Characters: Tristan Phillips (speaker), Alex Pierce
Page Number: 453
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long 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

It is a shit hole. It's hot like hell, traffic is always slow, and the people not all smiling and shit, and nobody waiting to tell you no problem, man. It is shitty, and sexy and dangerous and also really, really, really boring.

Related Characters: Tristan Phillips (speaker)
Page Number: 567-568
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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Tristan Phillips Character Timeline in A Brief History of Seven Killings

The timeline below shows where the character Tristan Phillips appears in A Brief History of Seven Killings. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 3, Chapter 5
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Josey hangs up and another of his men rings, this time telling Josey that Tristan Phillips, the Rasta Josey ordered him to kill, has disappeared. Josey threatens his man that... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 3
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Tristan is in prison, talking to Alex Pierce. He tells Alex he has been bribing the... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Balaclava was eventually bulldozed, and Tristan was imprisoned on a false accusation for five years. He emerged in 1972 to a... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
When the peace treaty took place, Shotta Sherrif asked Tristan to be “chairman of the peace council.” Shotta and Papa-Lo went to England to persuade... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 5
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
...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 Weeper’s runners that he was killed; however, recently... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 6
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
...not been in Jamaica since 1978, but seems suspiciously knowledgeable about the events of 1979. Tristan doesn’t believe that Alex is really writing a book about the Singer, and asks if... (full context)
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Later, Tristan discovered that a company called Copenhagen City Promotions sold footage of the second peace concert... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Four days later Tristan flew to Miami and met up with an old friend called A-Plus, who looked at... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 12
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Tristan tells Alex that the only other member of the peace council to emerge alive is... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
...dead, the path was cleared for Josey to take over crack distribution in New York. Tristan has heard that Josey is even extending his operation to England. Even though Tristan was... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
Tristan laments that the Ranking Dons are messy. He recalls being sent to Philadelphia to steal... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 16
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Tristan again questions Alex suspiciously about what he is actually writing. He tells Alex that Josey... (full context)
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Tristan never met Pavarotti, but rumors state that he was “cold as ice,” possibly mute, and... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 20
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Tristan indicates it’s unlikely that Josey has flown to New York six years after Tony Pavarotti’s... (full context)
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Tristan emphasizes that Josey is too big to go to jail. If anyone wants to get... (full context)
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Tristan tells Alex that he is getting out in March 1986, and the first thing he... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 6
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
...Alex is terrified. He hasn’t heard the name “Tony Pavarotti” since he was talking to Tristan in Rikers years ago. Alex manages to say that he killed Tony by stabbing him... (full context)
Part 5, Chapter 11
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
...information from a source, and Eubie responds that he already knows that Alex’s source is Tristan Phillips. Eubie tells him that Tristan is a crack addict now, and asks why Alex... (full context)