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 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Millicent continues talking to the wounded man’s wife, claiming that she’s never seen a gunman before, and explaining that she grew up in Havendale. The woman says that Josey Wales is supposedly going to “Yankee prison for a good while,” but that she’ll believe it when she sees it. The mention of Josey Wales has made Millicent dizzy, and she has to sit down. In her moment of dizziness, Millicent’s Jamaican accent comes back, which makes the wife laugh. The woman says that the Ranking Dons don’t have a leader like Josey, and tells the story about the bus driver that Josey shot right outside the police station.
Millicent’s efforts to maintain control over herself and not give any hint of her true identity are quickly slipping away. Even though she has perfected the performance of pretending to be someone else over the years, when she is forced to confront her own deepest fears––in particular her fear of Josey Wales––she automatically returns to her true identity.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon
The wife adds that Josey’s “wickedness” has come back to him, as both his daughter and Benjy have been killed. The death of the boy is what began the current wave of violence. The woman asks how Millicent knows so much about Josey Wales, considering she doesn’t come from the ghetto. At that moment, Millicent has a sudden memory of when, as Nina, she witnessed the shooting at the Singer’s house. She recalls the sound of the bullets, the men pushing past her, the blood, the screaming, and Josey standing in front of her. Afterward, Millicent/Nina ran home and packed a suitcase. All she could think about was Josey coming to find and kill her. She could still smell him, and can smell him now. She can hear the woman in Beth Israel calling for a nurse.
Throughout the second half of the book, we’ve known that Kim/Dorcas/Millicent was deathly afraid of Josey and that this was what drove her to flee Kingston and continuously assume new identities. However, it is only now made explicitly clear that this is because Nina walked into the Singer’s house during the shooting, and that Josey saw her there. Once again, the issue at hand is the act of witnessing, which has lead Millicent to give up her entire life and identity in order to save herself from being killed.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon
Witness and Storytelling Theme Icon