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 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ken has been in the bathroom for about an hour. Dorcas is still trying to figure out what disease he has, and for some reason it hasn’t occurred to her “that clearly his problem was not physical.” She can hear him trying to climb out of the window, but knows he won’t be successful, as there’s a grate over it. She is sitting on the couch watching TV, waiting for Mr. Colthirst to arrive. She is puzzled by how “normal” and “dashing” Ken seemed only hours ago, although at the time she struggled “not to think of him that way.”
It is curious that Dorcas calls Ken “normal,” considering how strange and alarming she found his behavior during their day together. At the same time, she also found this behavior comforting in some way. Now that Ken has turned away from her, she has been forced back into her isolated, lonely existence.
Themes
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
There is a knock on the door; it is Ms. Colthirst, who barges in rudely. Mr. Colthirst comes up behind her and apologizes. Ken barks at Ms. Colthirst, telling her to go away, and she replies that this has all happened because he won’t take his pills. Ken doesn’t recognize Ms. Colthirst either. Mr. Colthirst explains who his wife is and adds that they are in the Bronx. Eventually Ken comes out, looking disheveled. Ms. Colthirst takes Ken down to the car, leaving Mr. Colthirst alone with Dorcas. He explains that “every day is a new day for Pop,” to which Dorcas replies that the same is true for everybody.
Dorcas’s words in this passage highlight a surprising compatibility and similarity between her and Ken. Due to his amnesia, Ken experiences each day as a “blank slate.” This is exactly what Dorcas has been trying to achieve with her constant self-reinvention, if on a longer term, rather than day-to-day, level. No wonder Ken and Dorcas got along so well.
Themes
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Mr. Colthirst clarifies that Ken has amnesia and can’t remember anything past April 1980. He adds that the previous woman they hired to take care of him found it too exhausting and quit. Mr. Colthirst says he will phone the agency and tell them it wasn’t Dorcas’s fault it didn’t work out. However, Dorcas tells him not to, because she wants the job.
This is one of the few relatively happy moments of resolution in the novel. After suffering a lifetime of loneliness, Dorcas has found the perfect person to be around. Even if Ken knows her true identity, it doesn’t matter, as he will soon forget it again.
Themes
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon