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 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dorcas sits in the Colthirsts’ apartment, awaiting instructions. The man who let her in simply stares at her as if he too is waiting to be told what to do. He is wearing pink pants, which Dorcas thinks is odd, although she also thinks he is a “hot silver daddy or fox.” He sees Dorcas looking at a painting and tells her it’s a Pollock, but Dorcas replies that it is actually a de Kooning. He tells her to call him Ken, although Dorcas insists on calling him “Mr. Ken.” He tells Dorcas about a previous maid called Consuela, who he claims stole from them, and calls her a “wetback.” They briefly discuss Jamaica, which Ken has visited.  
Dorcas’s initial meeting with Ken is the first time she has admitted her own desire since her description of the time she (as Nina) slept with the Singer. Ken’s odd behavior encourages Nina to let her guard down, as she does not care about seeming respectable in front of him. This is reflected in the boldness with which she corrects him about the creator of a painting in his own house.
Themes
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
Ken’s daughter-in-law, Ms. Colthirst, enters, and tells Dorcas where to find the cleaning supplies. Dorcas tries to say that she is not a maid, but Ms. Colthirst has already left. Dorcas wonders why she is here; unlike the other elderly people she has been hired to care for, Ken is perfectly able-bodied. She tells him she is not a maid, and he asks her if she knows any games. Ken replies: “That dumb cunt thinks everybody here is the maid,” and said it was probably his son who called the agency. Ken then tells a racist joke and laughs. Dorcas responds: “How long does it take white woman to shit? … Nine months.” Ken bursts out laughing. Dorcas goes to leave, but Ken begs her not to. They keep trading jokes, and Dorcas can’t help but laugh.
We might expect Dorcas to be horrified by Ken’s racist jokes. However, she instead finds his vulgarity and rudeness strangely liberating. Freed from the pressure to behave respectably herself, Dorcas indulges in rude behavior and finds herself enjoying it. Although she is attracted to Ken, there is also a childishly innocent quality to their exchange. Ken may be an elderly man, but he conducts himself with the mischievous freedom of a young child.
Themes
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon