The Sellout

by

Paul Beatty

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The Sellout: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
All the neighborhood children gather in the narrator’s front yard, driven by the Stank. The narrator’s satsuma tree clears the air around his property “like some ten-foot-tall air freshener.” The next day the children come back, asking if the satsumas are ready yet. Hominy tells them a story about a black child who “turns white” by putting flour on his face. The kids are not sure if Hominy is joking or not, but they are still captivated by his “minstrelsy.”
Although it at first seemed unlikely, the narrator is now having a more and more positive impact on the community. Not only has the segregation of the bus created a peaceful environment that may now be replicated at the school, but his satsuma tree helps local children escape the Stank, and symbolizes hope, nourishment, and opportunity.
Themes
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon
The narrator gives everyone gathered around his house milk and one satsuma each. The crowd quickly strips the rest of the tree in a frenzy. The narrator then shepherds a young girl to Chaff Middle School. Once there, he looks across the road at the fake construction site he’s established for the Wheaton Academy Charter Magnet School of the Arts, Humanities, Business, Fashion, and Everything Else. He has blown up a watercolor painting of the Center of Marine Sciences at the University of Eastern Maine and attached it to the front of the construction site. The painting features white students whose images were taken from the websites of other private schools. A sign promises that the Wheaton Academy is “Coming Soon!”
In the end, the narrator realizes he does not even need to bring real white people to Dickens in order to re-segregate Chaff and the rest of the city. Simply the thought of this new, wealthy, white school arriving in the community will—he assumes—be enough. Again, this points to the somewhat artificial nature of race while also emphasizing the powerful impact that ideas of race have on society. White students do not actually have to come to Dickens—the point is that people think they are coming.
Themes
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon
The mother of some Chaff students is asking Charisma what her children need to do in order to get into Wheaton. Charisma tells her that they need to be white, though then she adds: “But you didn’t hear it from me.” Marpessa drives up in her bus, her face covered in satsuma juice. She says: “Okay, Bonbon, you win,” and takes the joint out of the narrator’s mouth to smoke herself.
It might be surprising that simply eating the narrator’s satsumas should have such a transformative impact on Marpessa. The fact that she has satsuma juice all over her face conveys the erotic undertones of this exchange, yet it is also clear that there is something deeper going on.
Themes
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon