Deacon King Kong

by

James McBride

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Deacon King Kong: Chapter 6: Bunch Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Bunch, a member of Joe Peck’s (and therefore Deems’s) criminal enterprise, is sitting in his apartment and reading the newspaper. His subordinate Earl sits nearby and works on a crossword puzzle. Bunch puts down his newspaper and tells Earl that Queens is being destroyed: “The Jews are burning it up.” Earl quickly agrees with him, although it doesn’t appear that he is actually listening. Feeling empowered, Bunch continues to rant about the position of Jewish people in the city. Every time he says something, Earl responds by saying, “Dig thaaat.” However, he doesn’t register anything that Bunch is saying.
Prejudices of all kinds are on display throughout Deacon King Kong, often because characters feel disempowered by their place in society. This is certainly true of Bunch’s anti-Semitism. While Bunch rants, Earl sits and does his crossword puzzle, suggesting that he is the more intelligent of the two.
Themes
Race and Power Theme Icon
Eventually, Bunch realizes that Earl isn’t listening to him and decides to change the subject. He begins asking Earl about Deems, who is still recovering from the bullet he took to the ear. Earl tells Bunch that Deems is quickly recovering and will be back out on the streets and selling drugs within a week or two. Bunch wants Deems and his men back to selling even sooner, but Earl warns him that the police are still swarming the area because of the shooting.
Here, Bunch shows his impatience, as Earl is clearly the more cautious of the two. Like Deems, Bunch sees drug dealing as a fast route to the top of the economic ladder. However, also like Deems, his greed often gets the best of him, causing him to make rash decisions.
Themes
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Race and Power Theme Icon
Next, the topic of conversation turns to Sportcoat’s fate. On the one hand, Bunch insists that there is a need for retaliation, but, on the other, he doesn’t want to kill the old man. He knows that Sportcoat’s death would cause problems with the people of the Five Ends Church. Additionally, although Bunch is a criminal, he is still a product of a religious upbringing, and he cares about his community. He insists that the best way to improve the Cause is to sell drugs in order to make it less impoverished. As Bunch’s right-hand man, it is Earl’s job to go after Sportcoat. He does not want to hurt Sportcoat, but he promises to do what Bunch says.
As it turns out, the drug dealers—or at least Bunch—are slightly less bloodthirsty than the other members of the Cause presume. Although Bunch does want to retaliate against Sportcoat, he doesn’t plan to kill him. Of course, Sportcoat is still in real danger, but perhaps not as much as people like Hot Sausage think. Meanwhile, the church continues to prove its worth as a valuable social institution, as its very presence protects Sportcoat, at least to some degree. 
Themes
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Community and Religion Theme Icon
Quotes
Next, Bunch and Earl switch their conversation to focus on expanding their business. Earl warns Bunch about trying to expand his drug empire too rapidly. Bunch wants to start using the docks, which are Elefante’s territory, to smuggle drugs. However, Bunch is ultimately in charge, and he implies that he will do as he pleases.
Once again, Earl demonstrates himself to be thoughtful and intelligent, while Bunch comes off as aggressive and unthinking. Of course, Elefante despises drugs, so it is unlikely that he would allow Bunch to use the docks without a fight.
Themes
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
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