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 4, Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Tristan tells Alex that the only other member of the peace council to emerge alive is a woman called Lucy, who is still in Jamaica. He teases Alex for denying that he was a tourist and claiming that he knows “the real Jamaica.” After the Singer warned Tristan about Josey Wales, he began to worry. He insists that he was never naïve and always knew that the peace treaty had a tiny chance of success, but even that tiny chance was seductive. When Papa-Lo and others involved in the peace council were killed, Tristan knew that it wasn’t the police’s idea, as they “don’t really get no benefit out of killing nobody.” He knew the person behind it was really Josey.
Notice how many characters, particularly those who come from West Kingston, take pains to emphasize that they are not naïve. In the context of Jamaican politics and society, any hint of optimism can be taken as naïveté. However, the book raises the question of whether it’s truly naïve to have a measure of hope that one day the violence, corruption, and chaos that characterize life in Kingston will end.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
With Shotta Sherrif dead, the path was cleared for Josey to take over crack distribution in New York. Tristan has heard that Josey is even extending his operation to England. Even though Tristan was sure Weeper wouldn’t come after him, he felt that Josey might, so he joined the Ranking Dons to stay protected. The Ranking Dons are connected to the Eight Lanes, whereas Josey and Eubie’s crew, Storm Posse, represent Copenhagen City.
The gang affiliations of Kingston are so powerful that they have equivalents across the world. On the other hand, Tristan’s comment shows that they are also arbitrary. Tristan joined the Ranking Dons not because he had any real desire to, but simply to be protected from Josey. 
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Tristan laments that the Ranking Dons are messy. He recalls being sent to Philadelphia to steal a stash of weed from a man from Copenhagen City who wasn’t being guarded by Storm Posse. Tristan and his men tied the man up only to find that his wife and baby were also in the house. The man would not give up his weed stash, and one of Tristan’s men tried to rape the man’s wife while Tristan held the baby. Eventually the captive told them where to find the weed, and Tristan and his man had a fight over whether it would still be all right to rape the woman. Tristan managed to get them to leave without raping or killing anyone. At the end of this story, Tristan observes that Alex jumps whenever Tristan mentions Josey Wales’ name.   
This is another example of the strange matrix of morality that develops in situations of extreme violence. As a gangster involved in robbing and murdering people, Tristan is hardly a moral character by any normal standards. On the other hand, his involvement in the peace treaty proves that he is more moral than characters such as Josey Wales. In this scene, his insistence that members of his crew don’t rape the woman shows he is also arguably more moral than the other Ranking Dons.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon