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 5, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The final part of the novel is set on March 22, 1991. Unlike the previous chapters, the narrator is not identified in the chapter title. Griselda Blanco has disappeared, and Josey Wales is in prison awaiting extradition to the US on charges of “murder, racketeering, obstructing justice, narcotics et cetera.” His son Benjy took over as don of Copenhagen City, and set about organizing the Papa-Lo Memorial Commemorative Annual Cricket Match.
As before, things have both changed and, on some fundamental level, stayed the same. Although the fall of Josey Wales is momentous (having previously seemed all but impossible), the fact that Benjy is taking over suggests that the change will be superficial. Josey will surely continue to exercise power through his son.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Benjy may have been Josey’s son, but he grew up in a life of luxury, and thus didn’t take sufficient precautions to protect himself. Cycling alone through Kinston, he was shot. Although the doctors knew there was nothing they could do, there were crowds outside demanding that they save him, and thus they had to perform procedures that they knew wouldn’t work. When the crowd heard that the doctors couldn’t save him, they kicked down the doors of the ER and began beating the doctors and nurses. Starting Sunday night, Copenhagen City took revenge on the Eight Lanes, shooting, raping, and burning down houses. The violence even spread to Miami.
This passage explores the intensity of the loyalty the people feel for the dons who control the ghetto. Indeed, this loyalty is so powerful that it defies reason, and is expressed in the form of pure, unfiltered emotion. Although Josey and the other dons commit acts of unspeakable violence, they are also the only advocates that the poor residents of Kingston really have––the only powerful people in the world who really understand them.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
The Jamaican Prime Minister asked the JLP to organize a truce and organized peace marches through the church. 20,000 people attended Benjy’s funeral. Josey tried to leave prison to attend but was not allowed. The narrator remarks that it’s funny that Josey spent so much time going unnoticed by the authorities, and that the American government only paid attention to him after he started selling drugs in New York. Before that, Josey was so untouchable that he once shot a bus driver who’d accidentally yelled at him in a road rage incident right in front of the police station. The police officers simply watched it happen, arresting Josey after the fact but releasing him when they couldn’t find any witnesses. 
Throughout the novel, the act of witnessing a crime is a highly charged event. Part of what allows Josey to sustain his operations as a gangster for so long without being caught is that no one will testify against him. This is another example of the way in which power is created by people, and particularly by groups of people making a silent agreement to behave one way or another. Because everyone in Jamaica decides not to snitch on Josey, he becomes––at least for a while—all-powerful.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
The Cali cartel determined that Josey was “badass” enough to be given the UK. Last year, Josey’s daughter and her boyfriend were killed by an Eight Lanes crew outside a nightclub. Shortly after, Josey was arrested, and by this point the American government had enough charges to get him into prison. The narrator went to visit him in prison; at the end of the chapter, it is revealed that the narrator is Doctor Love.
One seemingly minor but nonetheless powerful representation of sexism in the novel emerges through the fact that when Benjy is killed, a war breaks out. Yet when Josey’s daughter is killed, there are seemingly no consequences. 
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
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