The Sellout

by

Paul Beatty

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The Sellout: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator finds slaveholding a tricky business. Hominy has no skills other than subservience, and spends his days at “work” doing whatever he feels like. Sometimes Hominy poses as a footstool, but most of the time he watches the narrator carry out his farming work. The narrator regularly attempts to free Hominy, but Hominy refuses to be freed, arguing that “true freedom is having the right to be a slave.” Most of the time, slaveholding causes the narrator more anguish than anything, but on rare occasions Hominy will bring the narrator a pitcher of cold lemonade and the narrator feels that it is all worth it. The narrator tries to get Hominy a therapist, but Hominy complains that all the therapists he saw listed were white.
In some ways, Hominy’s situation resembles that of a sexual submissive—someone who derives pleasure from behaving in a servile, slave-like manner. This pleasure is often sexual, but does not have to be. In Hominy’s case, the satisfaction he gets from being a slave does not appear to be erotic. Rather, he believes that being a slave will help him be “relevant” and exercise his “true freedom.” Although his behavior is bizarre, from a philosophical perspective his argument about freedom is compelling.
Themes
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon
The narrator regularly takes Hominy to a BDSM club, where he pays for Hominy to be whipped by dominatrices. Although all of them happen to be white women, Hominy doesn’t mind. The sessions cost $200 an hour plus “racial incidentals,” extra charges for the use of racial slurs and insults. Driving home from a session, Hominy and the narrator discuss the other Little Rascals. Some believe the Rascals are cursed, as aside from Hominy they have all died unusual, premature deaths.
The idea that the Little Rascals are cursed is perhaps outlandish, but it is related to the well-known phenomenon of child stars facing difficulties later in life, whether in the form of mental health problems, drug and alcohol abuse, or other issues. In Hominy’s case, his problems are compounded by the racist nature of the roles he played as a child.
Themes
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
During the drive, the narrator realizes that the signs indicating where to turn off for Dickens have been removed. He commissions new signs and asks Hominy if it feels better to get whipped or look at the new signs, and Hominy replies that “the whip feels good on the back, but the sign feels good in the heart.” In another spot, the narrator hand-draws a sign that says DICKENS in blue letters. He hopes to one day have enough courage to make two more signs, one advising: “WATCH OUT FOR FALLING HOME PRICES,” and the other warning: “CAUTION—BLACK ON BLACK CRIME AHEAD.”
The link between Hominy’s two desires—to be a slave and to see Dickens come back—is not immediately obvious. Yet as the narrator’s homemade signs reveal, Dickens represents many negative stereotypes about black people and communities. Perhaps Hominy’s embrace of slavery is therefore related to his embrace of these negative stereotypes, and thus to his desire for Dickens to return.
Themes
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon
Criminality, Authority, and the Law Theme Icon