Deacon King Kong


James McBride

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Deacon King Kong: Chapter 21: New Dirt Summary & Analysis

Potts decides to pay Elefante a visit to try and gather more information about the shooting. Like Joe Peck, Potts suspects that Elefante may have had something to do with the shooting. First, he asks Elefante about Sportcoat. Elefante tells him that he casually knows Sportcoat, but that is all. Potts believes Elefante and quickly realizes that it is unlikely Elefante had anything to do with the shooting. Instead, their conversation turns to the rising drug use and violence within the neighborhood. Potts predicts that things will only get worse as drugs become more prominent and gang wars begin to break out.
Evidently, Potts has also connected Elefante to Sportcoat through Elefante’s mother. However, Potts is much sharper than Peck, and he almost immediately realizes that Elefante had nothing to do with the shooting. Although they exist on different sides of the law, Elefante and Potts appear to respect each other somewhat. They also are alike in that they both dislike direction the city is going and hope to retire soon.
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Potts also tells the story of how he first met Elefante’s father, whom he has great respect for. As a young man, Potts was staked out close to the dock where the Elefantes receive their shipments. While there, he spotted a man running suspiciously and chased after him. Potts eventually caught the man, who pulled a gun on him. Elefante’s father, who witnessed the event, drove over the man with his truck and killed him. Elefante’s father insisted that he did not see the man, but, regardless, he managed to save Potts’s life.
Pott’s story about Elefante’s father links two principal characters to each other. It also reinforces the novel’s central theme of community; though Elefante’s father and Potts were on different sides of the law, Elefante extended a hand to save Potts’s life.
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The conversation between Potts and Elefante turns to their respective retirements. Potts discusses his desire to retire and go fishing. Meanwhile, Elefante talks about how he wants to retire and work in a bagel shop. At first, Potts doesn’t believe that Elefante actually means to retire, but eventually Elefante convinces him that it is the truth. As their conversation ends, Potts looks across the water where he spots the Five Ends Church, and he thinks about Sister Gee.
Potts and Elefante have lived difficult lives, and in their old age, they both want to escape the hard streets that they’ve been a part of for so long. Both men are also in desperate need of a woman to love. Elefante has never found love, and it seems that Potts’s marriage is falling apart (a theory that Potts’s heightened, possibly romantic interest in Sister Gee supports).
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