Date Published: March 3, 2020

Deacon King Kong: Summary

"Deacon King Kong" by James McBride is a tale that will kidnap your sensibilities and ransom them for a hearty chuckle and a tear or two. The story unfurls in the labyrinthine alleys of a New York housing project, a seemingly unremarkable crucible of American life in 1969. Here, lives intertwine as harmoniously as a gospel choir, and just as dissonant when life plucks the wrong note. At the heart of the narrative is Deacon Cuffy Lambkin, affectionately known as Sportcoat, a church deacon often seen swimming in hard liquor. When this enigmatic man unexpectedly shoots the housing project's drug dealer, Deems Clemens, the bullet reverberates through the entire community, disturbing its delicate equilibrium. Thus begins an intricate dance of consequences, where the bullet's ripples wash over mobsters, church folk, and policemen alike. Underneath the infectious humor, the heartfelt dialogues, the whimsy, and the unabashed humanity, "Deacon King Kong" unravels an intricate tapestry of connections, a celebration of the human spirit and community resilience.

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Deacon King Kong

Author: James McBride

Date Published: March 3, 2020

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Deacon King Kong: Genres

Historical Fiction
Crime Fiction
African-American Literature

Deacon King Kong: Main Characters

Sportcoat: A slightly eccentric, inebriated church deacon, whose core values of faith and loyalty come forth when he attempts to save Deems from the path of destruction.

Deems Clemens: A young drug dealer with a lost dream of becoming a baseball player, his determination and resilience shine when he dares to alter his course after the life-changing incident with Sportcoat.

Thomas Elefante: A local mobster stuck in his mother’s past, his values of honor and respect underscore his actions, leading to an unexpected romantic journey with Miss Gee.

Miss Gee: The church secretary, an epitome of patience and quiet strength, she finds unexpected love while helping to mend the frayed threads of her community.

Deacon King Kong: Themes

Community and Resilience: The resilience of the Cause Houses community is tangible, weathering the storm post Sportcoat’s action, demonstrating the innate strength within a unified collective.

Redemption and Transformation: Sportcoat’s redemption through his subconscious actions, and Deems’s transformation from a drug dealer to pursuing his passion, embodies this theme.

Love and Connection: The unlikely romance between Elefante and Miss Gee, along with the deep-rooted connections within the Cause Houses, beautifully portrays the significance of love and connection.

Loss and Grief: Sportcoat’s lingering grief over Hettie’s death, and Elefante’s constant battle with his mother’s past, underscores the profound impact of loss and grief.

Faith and Hope: The community’s undying faith, seen especially in Sportcoat’s actions, instills hope, underscoring the potential for change even in the direst circumstances.

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