The Sellout

by

Paul Beatty

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The Sellout: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It rains all summer, and the narrator frets over his crops and his plans for segregation. Hominy loves the idea of re-segregating the school, hoping that it will lead to reverse white flight—what the narrator calls “Ku Klux Influx.” However, Hominy does not have any practical tips for how to actually reinstitute segregation. On top of practical difficulties, the narrator is also afflicted with uncertainty and guilt. He sits in his car and thinks about his plans.
To some extent, what the narrator calls “Ku Klux Influx” is actually just gentrification. The two concepts are slightly different, however—rather than being instigated by segregation, gentrification normally causes it. At the same time, gentrification could convincingly be described as the precise opposite of white flight—and so Beatty’s brutal renaming of the phenomenon strips away any comfortable euphemisms about what is really going on when communities of color are displaced by wealthy whites.
Themes
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon
Criminality, Authority, and the Law Theme Icon
When the narrator was a child, his father briefly considered sending him to a “fancy prep school.” However, his father then read a dubious study stating that black children performed better in segregated schools. The narrator now considers that the home schooling he received from his father was “a most segregated education,” and suddenly he understands how to segregate the school. The narrator gets home to find Hominy standing protectively by the satsuma tree. Hominy discovered his love of satsumas while working on The Little Rascals. The narrator’s satsumas are in bad shape. He has never whispered to the plants before, but after Hominy leaves he talks to them for hours.
The idea of re-segregation in order to improve life for black students may sound ridiculous—particularly given the failure of “separate but equal” policies and the failure to provide adequate education for black children under Jim Crow. However, some studies have in fact shown that black students perform better in segregated schools, so long as those schools have adequate resources (which historically was obviously not the case).
Themes
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon