A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings

by

Marlon James

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A Brief History of Seven Killings: Part 1, Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Everyone in Bam-Bam’s life has been behaving differently since 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 white man who brought guns into the ghetto says: “we’re fighting for freedom from totalitarianism, terrorism and tyranny,” but Bam-Bam does not understand what this means.
Bam-Bam’s lack of understanding over what the white American means by “freedom from totalitarianism, terrorism and tyranny” is telling. It conveys how the Americans are exploiting the poor and uneducated population of Jamaica for their own ends.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Weeper tells Bam-Bam that Josey is making them go to Rema, another swing district, because there are rumors that people there have been complaining about the JLP and threatening to join the PNP, thereby turning the “Eight Lanes into Nine Lanes.” Weeper and Bam-Bam freebase crack and drive to Rema. In the car Bam-Bam feels euphoric, horny, and violent all at the same time. They jump out of the car and join Josey, and together they shoot up the street while the Rema residents flee screaming. Bam-Bam feels a manic urge to kill someone, but Weeper stops him shooting. Back in the car, Bam-Bam feels miserable and is desperate to get high again.
This passage makes the connection between sex, drugs, and violence explicitly clear. Freebasing crack (a particularly intense and addictive form of cocaine) encourages Bam-Bam and his crew to have a desire to kill similar to (and intertwined with) the desire to have sex. Whereas when Bam-Bam first shot someone he felt nothing, cocaine actually makes him want to kill. More than anything, cocaine makes him want more cocaine, thereby making him more dependent on Josey.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia 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 almost hits Josey, but instead tells him that one day he’ll run out of people to kill. Bam-Bam’s girlfriend looks at him like he is a stranger. Josey and the gang continue to commit frequent acts of violence; Josey does something to a policewoman before killing her that makes Bam-Bam vomit. Bam-Bam doesn’t care what he does as long as Weeper keeps giving him crack.
Bam-Bam’s engagement with violence and drugs estranges him from those around him, including his girlfriend and even Papa-Lo. However, the intensity of his desire for crack is so strong that it replaces the human desires for intimacy and normalcy, and totally disrupts his sense of morality.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace 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 says he doesn’t take orders from Papa-Lo, Papa-Lo shoots him in the foot and forces him to drink his own urine. 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 payroll.” The Singer thinks he understands the ghetto because he came from there, but Bam-Bam thinks that the Singer doesn’t understand anything anymore.
Power in Kingston is not static and stable, but instead always shifting. Despite being the longstanding don of Copenhagen City, it is clear that Papa-Lo’s power is disappearing and that Josey is taking his place. Meanwhile, the Singer may seem universally admired and beloved, but in fact there are some––like Bam-Bam––who feel no qualms about undermining him. 
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
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Bam-Bam sees Weeper naked outside a woman’s house and feels a strong sense of sexual desire for him, but denies that he wants any of “that nasty batty boy business.” Bam-Bam watches the Singer’s house. Every night at around 9 pm the Singer takes a break and goes into the kitchen. The Americans have shown Bam-Bam and the rest of the gang pictures that were secretly taken of the Singer in his house. Everyone is waiting for the Smile Jamaica concert, even some people from the ghetto, because Papa-Lo said they should go to support “Bob.” 
This is one of the only times at which the Singer is named. The fact that Papa-Lo calls him “Bob” where he is otherwise known as “the Singer” emphasizes Papa-Lo’s intimacy with him. It also shows that Papa-Lo has a different kind of relationship with the Singer than the others, particularly Josey and his crew. It is a relationship grounded in genuine trust, admiration, and hope. This is why Papa-Lo could never bring himself to attack the Singer, but Josey can.
Themes
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
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