Deacon King Kong

by

James McBride

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Deacon King Kong can help.
Hettie is Sportcoat’s deceased wife. She died after getting up in the middle of the night and walking into the harbor. Although Sportcoat says she was simply “following God’s light,” it becomes clear that she purposely committed suicide, in part because of her unsatisfactory marriage to Sportcoat. Throughout the novel, Sportcoat talks to an imaginary version of Hettie that he sees while he’s drunk. This version of Hettie is angrier and more bitter than she was in life. Over the course of the novel, Sportcoat realizes that this version of Hettie is the unhappy person Hettie became as a result of Sportcoat’s alcoholism. In order to make amends with this version of Hettie and to give himself closure in the aftermath of her death, Sportcoat gives up drinking.

Hettie Quotes in Deacon King Kong

The Deacon King Kong quotes below are all either spoken by Hettie or refer to Hettie. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
).
Chapter 1: Jesus’s Cheese Quotes

“In the middle of the night, she shook me woke. I opened my eyes and seen a light floating ’round the room. It was like a little candlelight. ’Round and ’round it went, then out the door. Hettie said, ‘That’s God’s light. I got to fetch some moonflowers out the harbor.’ She put on her coat and followed it outside.”

Related Characters: Sportcoat (speaker), Hettie (speaker), Deems Clemens
Related Symbols: Flowers
Page Number: 3-4
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4: Running Off Quotes

“I don’t swallow any more spirits than anybody else in these projects.”

“Now who’s lying? I ain’t the one they calling Deacon King Kong.”

Related Characters: Sportcoat (speaker), Hot Sausage (speaker), Hettie
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12: Mojo Quotes

“The church got plenty money.”

“You mean the box in the church?”

“No, honey. It’s in God’s hands. In the palm of His hand, actually.”

Related Characters: Sportcoat (speaker), Hettie (speaker), Tommy Elefante
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16: May God Hold You… Quotes

Elefante shrugged, pocketed his money, and leaned against the wall of his house. “I used to see her come and go from church,” he said. “She’d say good morning. People don’t do that no more.”

“No they don’t.”

Related Characters: Tommy Elefante (speaker), Sportcoat (speaker), Hettie, Joe Peck
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20: Plant Man Quotes

“The man who come here to New York wasn’t the man I knowed in South Carolina. In all the years we been here, ain’t been a plant in that house of ours. Not a green thing hung from the ceiling nor the wall, other than what I brung in from time to time.”

Related Characters: Hettie (speaker), Sportcoat, Pudgy Fingers
Related Symbols: Flowers
Page Number: 285
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26: Beautiful Quotes

Then he patted me on the back and said, “Look after them moonflowers behind the church for my Hettie.” Then he walked into the water. Walked right into the harbor holding that bottle of King Kong. I said, “Wait a minute, Sport, that water’s cold.” But he went on ahead.

First it come up to his hips, then to his waist, then to the top of his arms, then to his neck. When it got to his neck he turned around to me and said, “Sausage, the water is so warm! It’s beautiful.”

Related Characters: Hot Sausage (speaker), Sportcoat (speaker), Hettie, Sister Gee
Related Symbols: Flowers
Page Number: 370
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Deacon King Kong LitChart as a printable PDF.
Deacon King Kong PDF

Hettie Character Timeline in Deacon King Kong

The timeline below shows where the character Hettie appears in Deacon King Kong. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Jesus’s Cheese
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
The night before the shooting, Sportcoat dreamed about his late wife, Hettie. Sportcoat loves to tell the story of Hettie’s disappearance, which happened during a snowstorm in... (full context)
Community and Religion Theme Icon
The next morning, Sportcoat looks for Hettie. He follows her footprints to the water, but they end there. Then, Sportcoat looks up... (full context)
Community and Religion Theme Icon
Two days later, Tommy Elefante’s crew finds Hettie’s body floating in the harbor. Elefante, or “The Elephant,” is a smuggler and a tough... (full context)
Community and Religion Theme Icon
Hettie’s funeral is a chaotic affair. No one knows where to put the flowers—this was Hettie’s... (full context)
Community and Religion Theme Icon
That night, Sportcoat dreams of Hettie and tells her about how great her funeral service was. However, he also has questions... (full context)
Community and Religion Theme Icon
During their argument, Hettie insults Sportcoat by calling him “the cheese thief.” She is referencing a shipment of cheese... (full context)
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
From this day on, Sportcoat regularly talks and argues with Hettie as though she is there with him. Meanwhile, the other members of the projects simply... (full context)
Chapter 2: A Dead Man
Race and Power Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
...him, and his stepmother treated him poorly. As a young man, he decides to follow Hettie, his high school sweetheart, to New York; the two of them eventually get married. Hettie... (full context)
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Race and Power Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
Unlike Sportcoat and Hettie, Deems grew up in New York City. This upbringing made Deems tough, and although he... (full context)
Chapter 4: Running Off
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
...Rather than think about what just happened, Sportcoat continues his ongoing argument with an imaginary Hettie about the missing church fund. He tries to impress on Hettie how important the missing... (full context)
Chapter 10: Soup
Race and Power Theme Icon
Community and Religion Theme Icon
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
The day after visiting Rufus, Sportcoat lays in bed and talks to Hettie, who is helping him decide what shirt to wear. Sportcoat is happy that the two... (full context)
Chapter 12: Mojo
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
...doesn’t think she’ll mind. Instead, Sportcoat drinks and once again begins talking to an imaginary Hettie. (full context)
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
When Hettie first appears, Sportcoat worries that she plans to lecture him about what happened at Soup’s... (full context)
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
Hettie then tells Sportcoat that she was lonely in their marriage. Sportcoat tells Hettie to stop... (full context)
Chapter 16: May God Hold You…
Race and Power Theme Icon
Community and Religion Theme Icon
...his mother already paid him enough and that he already feels thankful that Elefante returned Hettie’s body to him. Elefante gives up his attempt to pay Sportcoat and the old deacon... (full context)
Chapter 20: Plant Man
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
...about the night of the shooting and pulling Deems out of the water. He and Hettie had always wanted to jump into the New York water together at night, but they... (full context)
Community and Religion Theme Icon
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
During Sportcoat’s third day of hiding at Rufus’s place, he falls asleep and dreams about Hettie. The version of Hettie he dreams of is young and beautiful woman with neat hair... (full context)
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
Hettie ignores Sportcoat’s comment about the money and instead tells stories about their childhood. She recalls... (full context)
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
Hettie then turns the conversation to a different topic: Sportcoat’s abilities with plants. Hettie loves the... (full context)
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
Sportcoat tells Hettie that he changed so much after arriving in New York because of all of his... (full context)
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
Sportcoat reaches for a drink but cannot find one. Suddenly, Hettie gets angry and aggressive with Sportcoat. Sportcoat tells her that she is not his wife—his... (full context)
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
After his conversation with Hettie, Sportcoat decides to be sober. When Rufus returns and begins drinking, Sportcoat refuses to join... (full context)
Chapter 26: Beautiful
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
Hot Sausage also tells Sister Gee that he learned that Pudgy Fingers isn’t Sportcoat and Hettie’s biological son. When Hettie first moved to New York, and before Sportcoat followed her, she... (full context)
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
...Ends Church. He informs her that it was Sportcoat who planted and maintained the flowers. Hettie always wished Sportcoat would do more gardening, and she loved moonflowers, so Sportcoat plants them... (full context)