Deacon King Kong

by

James McBride

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Deacon King Kong: Chapter 12: Mojo Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Back in the Cause, Sportcoat sits alone in Sausage’s boiler room and drinks “King Kong.” He knows he is a couple hours late to help an old Italian lady garden (Mrs. Elefante, whose name he cannot remember), but he doesn’t think she’ll mind. Instead, Sportcoat drinks and once again begins talking to an imaginary Hettie.
Although he is a talented gardener, here, Sportcoat chooses drinking over gardening. Hettie will later chastise Sportcoat for drinking rather than spending time cultivating his skills with plants.
Themes
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
When Hettie first appears, Sportcoat worries that she plans to lecture him about what happened at Soup’s party, and he tells her not to bother. Hettie tells him that she doesn’t care what happened at Soup’s party—Sportcoat walks around getting “spit on” all of the time anyway. This makes Sportcoat angry. He asks Hettie who she thinks is spitting on him, and she responds, “You spit on yourself.” Sportcoat denies this accusation and tries to prove that he is an honest man and a hard worker whose community respects him. He tells Hettie that he plans on returning to baseball soon. However, Hettie dismisses the importance of baseball for the community. Sportcoat assures her that the sport is important, but Hettie responds that she wouldn’t know, because Sportcoat never invited her to a game.
Notably, almost every time Hettie appears, she and Sportcoat always fight. Sportcoat’s imagined version of Hettie is angry at Sportcoat and it sounds as though she was unhappy with their marriage. However, whether this version of Hettie is like the real Hattie is unclear at this point in the novel. Notably, Sportcoat kept Hettie away from one of the most important aspects of his life: baseball. This means she never got to see Sportcoat at his best. The novel never provides a clear reason for why Sportcoat didn’t invite her to his games, and it seems odd and out of place for Sportcoat given that baseball is such a central part of his life and the community.
Themes
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
Hettie then tells Sportcoat that she was lonely in their marriage. Sportcoat tells Hettie to stop complaining and then steers their conversation back toward a more typical topic: the missing Christmas fund. This time, Hettie tells him, “It’s in God’s hands. In the palm of His hand actually.” But this means nothing to Sportcoat; he continues to ask other questions about the money, but they get him nowhere. Quickly, he gets frustrated with Hettie, who assures him that she is giving him the answer he is looking for, even though he doesn’t know it.
Although Sportcoat doesn’t realize it yet, Hettie is giving him a clue to the location of an item that will solve the problem of the missing Christmas fund. Earlier in the novel, the Governor tells Elefante that Elefante’s father sent him a letter saying that the Venus is sitting in the palm of God’s hands. Of course, Sportcoat doesn’t know this because he wasn’t present for the meetings between Elefante and the Governor.
Themes
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
Quotes
As this conversation is going on, Hot Sausage arrives to find Sportcoat talking to himself. Hot Sausage immediately recognizes that Sportcoat dipped into his supply of King Kong, and he decides to drink some himself. As Hot Sausage and Sportcoat take turns drinking the King Kong, Hot Sausage works on one of the building’s generators, which keeps failing. In doing so, he causes the power to go out in the room and then recruits a drunken Sportcoat to help him. He asks Sportcoat to hit a nearby switch to restore the power, but Sportcoat refuses, insisting that he will be electrocuted. Sportcoat promises him that he is not around any live wires and won’t get hurt.
Part of the reason that it is so difficult for Sportcoat to quit using alcohol is that alcohol is around him at nearly all times. All his friends also drink to excess, and even if they don’t have as much of a problem as Sportcoat, they still certainly use alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Themes
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
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As Sportcoat and Hot Sausage argue back and forth, Earl sneaks into the room, once again planning to hurt Sportcoat. Just as Sausage tries to warn Sportcoat of Earl’s presence, Sportcoat finally flips the switch to restore the power. Almost simultaneously, Earl steps on a nearby live wire; he electrocutes himself and loses consciousness. Surprised, Sportcoat and Hot Sausage carry Earl out of the building and into a nearby alley. Eventually, Earl comes to and decides to complete a different job for Bunch before returning to him in the hopes of offsetting his thrice-failed hit on Sportcoat.
Once again, the novel quickly shifts its tone from serious to farcical. At this point, Earl doesn’t know what to make of his attempts to harm Sportcoat. It seems as though some kind of unseen force protects Sportcoat and thwarts Earl.
Themes
Community and Religion Theme Icon