The Sellout

by

Paul Beatty

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Satsumas Symbol Icon

The narrator grows several different crops on the farmland he purchased with the settlement money from his father’s death, including watermelons, marijuana, and satsumas (a kind of citrus fruit). The fruit the narrator grows is so delicious that some people faint when they eat it. In this sense it is almost mystical or supernatural in nature. Indeed, the ability to grow such delicious fruit is one of the strange skills that makes the narrator extraordinary, even as he doesn’t qualify as a hero in any conventional sense and claims that he is “no one special”—and so the satsumas come to represent the character’s odd uniqueness. When Stevie and King Cuz catch the narrator hanging around outside Marpessa’s house, he tells them that it is because he wants to show her a picture of his satsuma tree—a comically innocent excuse revealing the narrator’s often sweet, childlike nature. Because no one can resist the narrator’s fruit, the men do not care that he is essentially stalking Marpessa. When Marpessa finally decides to take the narrator back, she drives up with satsuma juice all over her face, in a moment with clear sexual undertones. The narrator may not be traditionally masculine or sexually assertive, but the satsumas show that his love for Marpessa is perhaps even more powerful for its innocent sweetness.

Satsumas Quotes in The Sellout

The The Sellout quotes below all refer to the symbol of Satsumas. 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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Satsumas Symbol Timeline in The Sellout

The timeline below shows where the symbol Satsumas appears in The Sellout. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon
...to segregate the school. The narrator gets home to find Hominy standing protectively by the satsuma tree. Hominy discovered his love of satsumas while working on The Little Rascals. The narrator’s... (full context)
Chapter 14
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Criminality, Authority, and the Law Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 15
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
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... (full context)
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 16
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Criminality, Authority, and the Law Theme Icon
...of a CIA conspiracy against him or an HBO documentary about him. Someone throws a satsuma at Foy’s head, and when the narrator goes to help him, Foy pushes him away.... (full context)
Chapter 17
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Stereotypes and Absurdity Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
...was sex he lies completely still. When Marpessa kisses him with lips that taste of satsuma, he freezes, “motionless.” However, she doesn’t seem to mind. The narrator asks if they are... (full context)
Progress vs. Regress Theme Icon
Blackness, Origins, and Home Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Hypersexualization Theme Icon
...even when it existed. The narrator then realizes that it was Marpessa who threw the satsuma at Foy. Marpessa boasts that she “hit that stupid motherfucker square in the face.” Although... (full context)