Recently Dorcas went home with a man she met at a bar, but when they got there she realized she didn’t want to have sex with him. He choked and threatened her, so she went to retrieve a cutlass from her bathroom and swung it at him, screaming “rape.” She chased him out of her house, not even allowing him to collect his clothes.
Dorcas’s behavior in this passage is reminiscent of the same erratic ferocity she brought to her life as Nina and Kim, like when she beat her abusive father, or when she set fire to Chuck’s apartment.
Back in the present, Dorcas asks Ken which disease he has: diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s. He doesn’t tell her and goes to leave, even though they have just ordered a pizza. He asks if Dorcas will take him out for dinner in the Bronx, and she soon realizes he isn’t joking. In the subway car on the way there, she wonders what other people think about them. She tells him it’s not safe to be traveling to 180th Street, even though it’s only 5pm.
While Dorcas and Ken were alone in the house, she allowed herself to forget about respectability and indulge in the vulgarity of telling racist jokes. However, now that they are back in public Dorcas once again becomes fixated on what other people think of her.
Dorcas observes that his disease must be giving him a “death wish.” Ken says that maybe he just wants “some fucking jerk pork and yam, and rum punch,” and Dorcas responds that now everyone in the subway car thinks she’s a prostitute. Ken gets up and tells the other passengers that Dorcas is his wife, and Dorcas makes them get off at the next stop. Ken tells her not to worry so much about what other people think. Dorcas suggests that they wait for another train, but Ken insists that they walk.
Although Ken’s behavior is outrageous and arguably quite rude, he interacts with Dorcas in a way that none of the men in her life have done before. To the Singer, she was just a one-night stand, and her affair with Chuck was a secret that he kept from his wife. Ken, on the other hand, is perfectly happy for other people to think they are married––even though they actually aren’t.