A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings


Marlon James

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on A Brief History of Seven Killings can help.

A Brief History of Seven Killings: Part 1, Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Alex writes that the West Kingston ghetto is like hell, and that it can’t be put into words. He uses melodramatic, sensual language to describe life in the ghetto, and then chastises himself for “sensationalism.” There is a blackout, and Kingston is eerily quiet. Alex feels like he is “in over my head.” He keeps writing, describing Jamaican musical culture before returning to the “lawless” world of downtown Kingston. He feels that his story needs “a narrative line,” a hero, a villain, and a damsel. He is fixated on Bill Adler and what “he knows.” 
Alex is plagued by confusion about Jamaica. At times it seems as if his desire to know the “real” Jamaica clouds his ability to actually see the country for what it is. Moreover, Alex cannot help but fall into clichés when attempting to tell his story. He describes the ghetto in overly dramatic terms and tries to find a hero, villain, and damsel, when the reality is far more complicated.
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon