The Sellout


Paul Beatty

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The Sellout: Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

On the anniversary of the narrator’s father’s death, he and Marpessa go to Dum Dum Donuts for open-mic night. The narrator recalls a night when a white couple came to the club and laughed along with the rest of the audience at all the jokes. The comedian onstage asked them: “What the fuck are you honkies laughing at?” He shouted at them to leave, declaring: “This is our thing!” The narrator thinks about the fact that he stayed silent during this whole episode, and admits that he is always frightened by what he might say if he speaks. He wished that he’d been able to ask the comedian: “What exactly is our thing?
The novel may end on a happy note plot-wise, but the narrator’s father’s favorite two questions remain unanswered: Who am I? and How may I become myself? The narrator is still unsure about who he is, and—as the question he wanted to ask the comedian reveals—what blackness is. As someone who suffers from chronic uncertainty, the narrator envies the comedian’s conviction when he talks about “our thing.”
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