The Sellout

by

Paul Beatty

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The Sellout: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After Marpessa married MC Panache, the two of them moved to an affluent black neighborhood named the Dons, ten miles north of Dickens. Before they broke up, Marpessa and the narrator would dream of moving there together. After she got married, the narrator would sometimes drive up there and sit outside her house. He spends a lot of time there during the rainy summer while he is planning to segregate the school. He drives up one night and is surprised to see the #125 bus parked outside her house. He can see that his sign indicating “priority seating” for whites is still up.
The narrator’s love for Marpessa is so intense that he is happy to sit in his car outside her house just to be near to her. Depending on one’s interpretation, this is either romantic or creepy. Indeed, during this time of stress over his plans to re-segregate Dickens, a link forms between the narrator’s two, seemingly impossible goals: bringing back Dickens and getting back together with Marpessa—two ways of coming “home.”
Themes
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Criminality, Authority, and the Law Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
The narrator then feels a gun pressed against his head and sees that it is held by Marpessa’s brother Stevie. Stevie drops the gun and embraces the narrator in a “bear hug.” King Cuz is standing nearby. Cuz tells the narrator that MC Panache managed to get Stevie out of prison. Stevie asks the narrator what he is doing outside Marpessa’s house, and the narrator replies that he wanted to show Marpessa a picture of his satsuma tree. Stevie tells the narrator that the bus is there because Marpessa thinks that what the narrator did to it is “special.” The narrator gives Stevie an almost-ripe satsuma, and Stevie announces: “That’s what freedom smells like.” He then asks the narrator about the black Chinese restaurants.
Compared to Stevie, King Cuz, and MC Panache—all “gangbangers,” some of whom have spent time in prison—the narrator is remarkably innocent. This innocence is emphasized by his supposed desire to show Marpessa a picture of his satsuma tree. Indeed, the satsumas themselves seem to represent the sweetness of the narrator and of his love for Marpessa.
Themes
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Criminality, Authority, and the Law Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon