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 3, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Josey believes the Singer shouldn’t have come back to Jamaica. He is distrustful of the peace treaty, which he thinks of as a “stalemate” rather than real peace. Josey has just sent Weeper to Miami to spend time with Doctor Love. Doctor Love has explained that Medellín will want to keep testing Josey, which Josey finds a little tiring.
Josey is nothing if not cynical. He doesn’t believe the peace treaty will last or bring about anything truly positive. He does not even appear to be excited about the prospect of distributing drugs for the Medellín cartel, but simply finds the whole process tiring.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
After the attack on the Singer’s house, Peter Nasser called Josey and furiously asked how he could be “the first man in history to shoot somebody in the head and not kill them.” Although he did not say this aloud, Josey reasoned that while he may not have killed the Singer, he at least made him seem mortal again. Josey tells Doctor Love that he is done being tested. After the shooting at the Singer’s house, an informer told Josey that Alex had arrived on the scene just after the attack was over. Josey recalls the Singer’s departure from Jamaica. At 6 am, he and Tony arrived at the airport. Tony had a gun poised, ready to shoot the Singer, when Josey told him to stop.
At times Josey’s actions are just as mysterious as the Singer’s. Josey’s reasons for wanting to kill the Singer are never made completely clear. Although he resents the increasing power of the Rastas, the PNP, and the Singer’s efforts to bring about peace, it is unclear whether these are the only reasons why Josey wanted the Singer dead. His decision to stop Tony Pavarotti shooting the Singer makes his reasoning even more opaque. As with the Singer, this opacity makes him appear all the more powerful.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Josey goes to the Lady Pink Go-Go Club with Peter Nasser. The two men discuss the peace treaty and the Singer’s imminent return for the second peace concert. Peter asks if the Singer is trying to start a third political party, and Josey confirms this, saying the Singer wants to establish a “Rasta government.” He points out that even Papa-Lo was turning Rasta. Peter is furious and starts panicking about the election next year.
Peter Nasser embodies all the negative stereotypes about politicians: he is duplicitous, selfish, power-hungry, and has little regard for what the people want. Note that no one in this scene stops to consider if a Rasta government may actually benefit the people and bring about peace.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
When Louis Johnson left for Argentina, a new American called Mr. Clark replaced him. In April 1978 Josey met Mr. Clark and Doctor Love at Morgan’s Harbor, “the hotel for white people over in Port Royal.” Josey pretended to be stupid, leaving Doctor Love to “translate.” Mr. Clark asked Josey if he knew what the Cold War meant, and then explained it to him. He showed Josey a coloring book titled Democracy is for US!, which contained illustrations depicting life under capitalism. He suggested that Josey distribute copies of the book in the local school.
Josey’s pretense of stupidity clearly works, because Mr. Clark treats him like a child, even giving him a coloring book. Indeed, this coloring book shows the pervasive and insidious nature of Cold War propaganda. Although it hardly seems likely that Jamaican children will have much of an impact on the Cold War, the CIA keeps all its bases covered. In interviews Marlon James has also noted that “Democracy is for US!” was a real book. 
Themes
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
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Mr. Clark then described the supposed epidemic of late-term abortions in East Germany. He warned Josey that Jamaica was in danger of turning into Cuba or “worse, East Germany” within a couple of years. He emphasized that Jamaica was at “a crossroads” and asked if he could rely on Josey. Josey agreed, and Mr. Clark said that in return for Josey’s loyalty, he would ignore Josey’s many trips to Miami and Costa Rica. Mr. Clark left, and Doctor Love and Josey discussed a shipment of guns that recently arrived.
In this passage, Mr. Clark agrees to turn a blind eye to Josey’s involvement in transporting drugs to the United States in exchange for him continuing to oppose the PNP, Rastas, and any form of socialism in Jamaica. This supports real-life allegations that the CIA was involved in drug trafficking to the US during this period.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Papa-Lo comes to Josey’s house and pleads with him to take the peace treaty seriously. Josey is shocked to see that Papa-Lo is crying. Josey realizes that Papa-Lo wants to redeem his reputation and be remembered not as a violent gangster, but as the man who “unite the ghetto.” People think Josey hates Papa-Lo, but Josey denies this, saying he has “nothing but love for the man.” However, he adds that in the ghetto peace cannot exist, only power. Peace can never last when there is still poverty, police, prison, and social inequality.
At times Josey’s cynicism might seem too extreme, particularly in comparison to Papa-Lo’s moving regret at his violent past and optimism for the future. However, Josey’s point at the end of this passage, while pessimistic, is also arguably accurate. When so much violence comes from poverty, inequality, and state oppression, surely it is not possible for residents of the ghetto to establish peace without also alleviating those problems. 
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
It seems as if Papa-Lo is trying to do “penance” for the shooting at the Singer’s house. Knowing this, Josey gave him Leggo Beast so Papa-Lo could “make an example” out of him. When Leggo Beast started screaming about the CIA, Josey wondered if Papa-Lo would believe him, but concluded that Papa-Lo knows as little about the CIA as any other ordinary Jamaican. Josey once again insists that if he was the one who shot the Singer, not one bullet would have missed. 
Papa-Lo may be experienced and have the best interests of the people in heart, but ultimately he is too ignorant to compete with Josey’s conniving intelligence. Not only does Josey understand Jamaican politics and the CIA, he also understands Papa-Lo.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Josey is at home waiting for the phone to ring. He chats to his 12-year-old son. After, he thinks about the new Rasta party; even if the Singer isn’t the “face” of this party, he will fund it, which is more important. Josey killed some of the men he hired for the attack on the Singer’s house, and the Rastas took care of the rest. However, Heckle disappeared. If Josey had gotten a chance to speak to him, he would have told Heckle he didn’t need to run; Josey admires Heckle’s intelligence, and has no interest in killing him.
Intelligence is evidently the best way to win Josey’s admiration and thus to stay safe around him. This is conveyed not only by Josey’s willingness to spare Heckle’s life, but also his favoritism of Weeper, despite the fact that Weeper is a gay atheist who Josey would presumably otherwise hate.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Then one day Papa-Lo came bursting through Josey’s door telling him that the Singer took Heckle on tour with him. Apparently Heckle had gone to the Singer’s house and begged for forgiveness. The Singer obliged and proceeded to bring Heckle into his “inner circle,” which made Heckle “untouchable.” Josey’s youngest daughter comes into the room and climbs onto his lap. Josey thinks that Jamaicans don’t know “good,” that it’s better for things in the country to stay bad. The phone finally rings and the person on the other end tells Josey: “It is finished.”
Aside from Josey (and perhaps, by extension, Weeper), Heckle is the only member of the crew who shot the Singer who ended up better off after the attack than before. Yet whereas Josey remains in denial about his involvement, Heckle turns the situation around by approaching the Singer with radical honesty and vulnerability.
Themes
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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 if he doesn’t find Tristan within three days, Josey will kill him. The phone rings once again; this time it’s Weeper. Josey tells Weeper he needs to go because he is waiting on a call from Tony, but Weeper points out that if Tony was going to call he would have done so already, and Josey agrees. Josey and Weeper discuss their drug operation. Weeper complains about a Colombian lesbian he is working with in Miami. Josey assures him that Miami is only a “pit stop” to their real destination: New York.    
Part Three ends on a cliffhanger, with Josey and Weeper poised to turn their operation from local to global. Once again, however, Josey does not appear to be showing any signs of excitement. Instead, he remains tense. This may be because he is still worried about someone finding out that he shot––and failed to kill––the Singer. This unfinished business in Jamaica arguably does not bode well for his international endeavors.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon