A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings


Marlon James

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A Brief History of Seven Killings: Part 2, Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

 Demus feels like he has been running for days. He gets on a bus, gets off, climbs down to a gully beneath a bridge, and falls asleep. He wakes up to a dirty, toothless woman grabbing his crotch. He threatens to throw a rock at her and she runs away. He can’t remember the last time he ate or bathed, and he is still desperate for cocaine. He resolves to flee to another part of Jamaica, and compares himself to a runaway slave. He runs past a burned-out car, then “the skeleton of a boat,” then the wreckage of a crashed plane. Suddenly eight Rastamen dressed in white surround him. 
Demus’s comparison of himself to a runaway slave is no coincidence. At some (unspecified) point during this chapter, Demus dies, although he doesn’t realize it yet. The afterlife is, of course, populated by the spirits of the dead, including runaway slaves. Demus’s experience of running into death thus emphasizes the ongoing presence of the painful past through the ghosts that inhabit the afterlife.
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