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 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Josey has thrown his mattress at Doctor Love and is now trying to wrench the sink out of the prison cell wall. He grabs Doctor Love and brandishes a machete that is “shiny like it’s new.” He asks Doctor Love if he wants to be cut above the elbow or below the elbow. Just as Josey is about to start hacking, Doctor Love reminds him that he has another son. Josey presses the machete to Doctor Love’s throat, but Doctor Love says he will kill Josey’s other son even if Josey kills him in this moment. Josey asks what Eubie wants with his son, but Doctor Love replies that Eubie hasn’t sent him, and neither has the CIA. Josey asks if Doctor Love will tell who sent him, and Doctor Love says he won’t.
Like Eubie and Josey, Josey and Doctor Love are similar in a way that means only one of them can emerge from their allegiance alive. Both have power that extends beyond their physical presence as people, as evidenced by the fact that they are making threats that neither is capable of actually carrying out in that moment. However, these threats, in order to be powerful, require a certain amount of trust that they can be carried through. Josey’s power is slipping away, and Doctor Love does not fear him.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Doctor Love tells Josey not to give up the information he’s planning on giving. Josey says his lawyer has told him he will get seven years at most, and adds that as soon as he has served his time he is going to return to Copenhagen City, where he will “remember my friends.” Doctor Love indicates that he may have been sent by the Medellín cartel.
Josey is confident that he will not have to serve a long sentence and that the information he gives up will serve him well. However, it seems that Josey’s confidence might at this point be just a form of hubris (fatal pride).
Themes
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
Doctor Love goes to leave, and as he does so he gives Josey some pills. He explains that whoever sent him wanted Josey to suffer, and that he is disobeying orders by giving Josey something that will make him not care that he’s dying. Josey takes the pills and lies down on the bed. He tells Doctor Love that he thinks about “him” sometimes, meaning the Singer. Doctor Love asks if Josey regrets trying to kill him, but Josey replies he doesn’t. He is only sorry that the Singer suffered, and wishes he could have killed him quickly, with a gun shot. Josey says he wishes it was 1976, or 1978, because “everything” was great then. Josey passes out, and Doctor Love leaves.
As soon as Josey realizes that he is about to die and there is nothing he can do about it, his personality shifts. His boastful arrogance disappears, and he appears to accept his fate. Moreover, he begins to reminisce about the late ‘70s, romanticizing that period as a time in which “everything” was great. This contradicts his earlier statement to Doctor Love that he never thinks about the past, and provides a new insight into his character as more normal and human than we might assume. Doctor Love also shows a relative amount of compassion, or at least respect, in giving Josey the pills so that he won’t suffer.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon