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 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Tristan again questions Alex suspiciously about what he is actually writing. He tells Alex that Josey Wales is arriving in New York that very day, and Alex suddenly goes quiet. Tristan remarks that he can see Alex is trying not to look afraid, and further taunts him by reciting the address of his apartment in Bed-Stuy. Eventually Alex tells Tristan about killing the stranger who he woke up next to in the hotel. Tristan discusses the experience of killing someone, and asks Alex to describe the man he killed. Based on the description, Tristan concludes it sounds like Tony Pavarotti.
This passage reveals that Alex is not simply generally afraid of Josey Wales, but fears direct retribution for having killed the stranger in his hotel room. While Alex began as a peripheral figure haplessly trying to get close to the action, his accidental murder of Tony Pavarotti has thrust him into the very center of Jamaican gang politics. 
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Tristan never met Pavarotti, but rumors state that he was “cold as ice,” possibly mute, and came out out of the mysterious “School for the Americas.” Tristan laughs at the idea that Alex murdered “Jamaica’s number one killing machine.” Alex tells him that it happened in February 1979, and Tristan mulls over his story, reasoning that if Pavarotti was after Alex then, Josey must have sent him. Alex tells Tristan he doesn’t know why Josey would want him dead. Tristan questions him, and eventually figures out the reason: at the time, Alex was the only person who knew that Josey was the one who shot the Singer. Now Tristan knows too. Tristan remarks that they are “the only two man Josey Wales try to kill who still living.”
As with the Singer and Josey, Tony Pavarotti is made to seem more powerful by the fact that he is so mysterious. We might not have even noticed up to this point that Tony has not had any dialogue in the novel. Tristan pointing it out at this late stage thus draws further attention to how little is known about Tony. The “School for the Americas” likely refers to a real institution, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, which provides military training to American allies in Latin American countries.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon