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 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
People in the ghetto are treating Papa-Lo like an “old man.” There are rumors that Papa-Lo is turning away from violence, and he admits it’s true that two years ago, he shot a boy without realizing he was a high school student and that this had a deep impact in him. The boy’s mother came to Papa-Lo’s house and shouted that her son had six GCEs and was going to get a scholarship to university, until Josey gun-butted her in the head.
Papa-Lo appears to have a much stronger moral compass in comparison to the other gangsters in the ghetto, so it is easy to forget that he, too, is extremely ruthless and violent. What does it mean to be relatively moral in such an immoral landscape? The book provides no straightforward answer to this question. 
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Papa-Lo admits that the Singer is friends with both him and Shotta Sherrif, though he interacts with them separately. For three 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 City could rise.” Politicians separated Kingston into districts, drawing artificial boundaries without consulting the residents. Papa-Lo worked on expanding Copenhagen City to twice its original size and eliminated robbery and rape from the neighborhood. However, now it is another election year and there is nothing left but “war and rumour of war.”
This passage highlights that violence and immorality do not only originate in the ghetto and move outwards; corruption also happens the other way around. Drawing artificial boundaries between neighborhoods in the Kingston ghetto was clearly in the interests of politicians such as Peter Nasser, who exploited these divisions for their own political gain. The ordinary residents of West Kingston were thus left caught in a “war” not of their own design.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon