Deacon King Kong

by

James McBride

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Deacon King Kong: Chapter 9: Dirt Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Because Jet has likely blown his cover, his higher-ups transfer him to Queens. Meanwhile, they put Potts in charge of the case surrounding Deems’s shooting. Potts, along with a younger member of the force, shows up at the local church and asks about Sportcoat. As the police officers enter the church, the younger man takes the lead and asks who is in charge. Sister Gee responds, suggesting she is in charge, but rather than answer the young officer’s question, she chastises him for his rude entrance. The young officer ignores her and continues on with his questioning. However, because of his rude behavior, Sister Gee closes down and does not give helpful answers to any of his questions.
The residents of the Cause are already not amenable to the police, and the young officer only makes matters worse. Even at the best of times, it is unlikely that Sister Gee would provide information, and now it seems almost impossible. Sister Gee probably sees the officer’s behavior as not only a slight to herself, but also to God—they are in a church, after all.
Themes
Race and Power Theme Icon
Community and Religion Theme Icon
Because the young detective is rude and arrogant, Potts sends him outside and decides to perform the questioning on his own. He apologizes to Sister Gee for the young man’s behavior, and she seems to accept his apology. The two restart the conversation by properly introducing themselves. Both playfully joke about the strangeness of the other’s name. Then, rather than immediately questioning her about Sportcoat, Potts asks Sister Gee personal questions about herself and what she does for a living. Sister Gee happily answers his questions—she enjoys talking to Potts and appreciates his good manners. Potts learns that Sister Gee is a housekeeper. He comments that both of them make a living cleaning up dirt.
Unlike the young detective, Potts knows how to get on Sister Gee’s good side. This is not a matter of manipulation; Potts is genuinely annoyed by the younger officer’s impropriety and wants to make it up to Sister Gee. Rather than immediately resume questioning, Potts lets the conversation sway elsewhere; he takes an interest in Sister Gee as a person rather than merely as an object that is impeding his investigation.
Themes
Race and Power Theme Icon
Community and Religion Theme Icon
As Sister Gee and Potts converse, Potts realizes that he is attracted to Sister Gee, and she seems to like him in return. However, Potts is married to another woman, and so he does not act on his feelings. Nonetheless, his and Sister Gee’s conversation is largely friendly, and often veers away what Potts originally came to talk about. Potts tells Sister Gee that he plans to retire soon and looks forward to going fishing.
Many of the characters in the novel are past middle age and are looking forward to retirement; they see that the world is only growing more complicated and violent and do not want any part of it. This is certainly true of both Potts and Elefante.
Themes
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Eventually, Potts does focus in on police business. He asks Sister Gee questions about a man named Thelonius Ellis, a name she claims not to recognize. Clearly, Potts is searching for information about the shooting and really wants to know about Sportcoat, but Thelonius Ellis is not Sportcoat’s real name. As such, Sister Gee is not lying when she tells Potts that she doesn’t know who he is talking about.
Neither Sister Gee nor the reader have heard of a Thelonius Ellis up to this point. Of course, Sister Gee knows that it is Sportcoat that Potts is really looking for, but she doesn’t tell him that. She feels that she is doing her duty to both Sportcoat and Potts by not telling the full truth.
Themes
Race and Power Theme Icon
Quotes
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Deacon King Kong PDF
Still, Sister Gee does provide Potts with some new information. She tells him that Deems survived the shooting because Jet, whom everyone in the Cause knows is an undercover policeman, yelled out a warning. As such, she recommends Potts speak to Jet if he wants more information about the shooting. Although Sister Gee doesn’t give Potts the information he is looking for, they depart on good terms, and Sister Gee tells him to come see her again. 
Perhaps because she likes Potts, Sister Gee does want to provide him with some information, even though it is unlikely to aid him in his investigation. Also, the fact that Jet was so conspicuous in the Cause demonstrates how little the police force understands the people they are meant to be policing.
Themes
Race and Power Theme Icon