The Sellout

by

Paul Beatty

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Marpessa Delissa Dawson Character Analysis

Marpessa is the narrator’s childhood sweetheart and on/off girlfriend. She grew up in Dickens and, like the narrator, enjoyed going to Hominy’s house to watch Little Rascals movies as a child. She is three years older than the narrator, and when she begins to date boys as a teenager, the two lose touch. She marries MC Panache and has a baby when she is still young, which helps propel her into her career as a bus driver. The narrator involves Marpessa in his plan to give Hominy “racism” for his birthday by getting her to put up a sign on her bus asking passengers to give up their seats for white people. During this project and the ensuing re-segregation of Dickens, Marpessa decides to get back together with the narrator. The end of the novel sees them happily reunited.

Marpessa Delissa Dawson Quotes in The Sellout

The The Sellout quotes below are all either spoken by Marpessa Delissa Dawson or refer to Marpessa Delissa Dawson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Picador edition of The Sellout published in 2015.
Chapter 17 Quotes

I'm frigid. Not in the sense that I don't have any sexual desire, but in the obnoxious way men in the free-love seventies projected their own sexual inadequacies onto women by referring to them as "frigid" and "dead fish." I'm the deadest of fish. I fuck like an overturned guppy. A plate of day-old sashimi has more "motion of the ocean" than I do. So on the day of the shooting and drive-by orange-ing, when Marpessa stuck a tongue suspiciously tangy with satsuma tartness into my mouth and ground her pudenda into my

pelvic bone, I lay there on my bed—motionless.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Marpessa Delissa Dawson
Related Symbols: Satsumas
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:
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Marpessa Delissa Dawson Character Timeline in The Sellout

The timeline below shows where the character Marpessa Delissa Dawson appears in The Sellout. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
...that he would stay in Dickens and live an average life. He hoped to marry Marpessa Delissa Dawson, his childhood sweetheart and “one and only love.” He felt that the questions... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
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...took off like he hoped. When the narrator was young, he and his lifelong friend Marpessa would go to watch The Little Rascals at Hominy’s house. The narrator has been in... (full context)
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Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon
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...of his career.” After the other neighborhood kids stopped coming to the Little Rascals viewings, Marpessa stayed, even though she was 15. Eventually, however, she became more interested in boys and... (full context)
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Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon
Criminality, Authority, and the Law Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
One night, the narrator hears Marpessa say the name “Hominy” in his dreams. He wakes and runs to Hominy’s door, where... (full context)
Chapter 9
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
...to ride the bus to the beach in order to escape the Stank and see Marpessa. A calf wanders in through the open door, also hoping to escape the smell. Hominy... (full context)
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
The narrator catches the 5:43 am #125 westbound bus, driven by Marpessa. Years ago, Marpessa marred a “has-been gangster rapper” named MC Panache, which makes her assume—in... (full context)
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
A passenger who keeps pressing the stop button calls Marpessa a “fat fucking cow,” which the narrator knows she will not tolerate. However, he does... (full context)
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
...kept turning around and signing “fuck her already” with his hands. While they were dating, Marpessa and the narrator declared books, authors, artists, and silent movies “theirs.” They especially loved Kafka.... (full context)
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The narrator is thrilled that Marpessa has called him by his childhood nickname. She apologizes for treating him rudely before, blaming... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...offended, and the narrator asks what he means, claiming that offence isn’t a real emotion. Marpessa is driving, having agreed to “convert the #125 bus into a rolling party center” out... (full context)
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
...the white woman stays on the bus for the entire  three-hour route and back again, Marpessa suspiciously asks the narrator if he knows her. Marpessa calls the woman to the front... (full context)
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Laura Jane tells Marpessa that she is an actress who works part-time as a submissive to pay the bills.... (full context)
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Laura Jane kisses Marpessa’s forehead, then returns to Hominy. The narrator stops Marpessa from hitting Laura Jane, which leads... (full context)
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Marpessa sees the narrator staring lustfully at Laura Jane’s naked body and curses him for “fiending... (full context)
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The narrator does not believe that Marpessa ever loved him, but then she tells him she fell in love with him when... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
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...“remain stuck in our ways.” Charisma is the assistant principal of Chaff Middle School and Marpessa’s best friend. When she claims that there are “too many Mexicans,” it is the first... (full context)
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...him. The narrator is reluctant to come back, but agrees after Charisma tells him that Marpessa will be there. On that day, Marpessa doesn’t so much as look at the narrator.... (full context)
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...the castration, and carries it out smoothly. She holds up the calf’s bloody testicles triumphantly. Marpessa drives away. Charisma tells the narrator that ever since he put up the signs on... (full context)
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Charisma explains that she wants the school to become like Marpessa’s bus. When the narrator was a child, everyone in Dickens was black. Marpessa didn’t realize... (full context)
Chapter 14
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After Marpessa married MC Panache, the two of them moved to an affluent black neighborhood named the... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...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,... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon
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...claims that he is frigid, because when he was sex he lies completely still. When Marpessa kisses him with lips that taste of satsuma, he freezes, “motionless.” However, she doesn’t seem... (full context)
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Marpessa points out that people didn’t really love Dickens even when it existed. The narrator then... (full context)
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Marpessa may think the narrator is unfunny, but the narrator claims his father was far worse.... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...past, it only meant one place in LA: Dickens. During the confrontation between the gangs, Marpessa tells MC Panache that she is sleeping with the narrator. Panache replies that if he... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...him and tells him that he’s quitting slavery, adding: “We’ll talk reparations in the morning.” Marpessa calls the narrator inside, and he finds both her and Charisma lying on the bed.... (full context)
Chapter 26
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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... (full context)