Chapter 9

Summary

Bridget's agitation betrays the fact that something is wrong. James is questioning her when he hears a strange noise. Bridget tries to convince him to go upstairs to investigate, but he says that the sound clearly came from somewhere in the kitchen. As he looks around, he notices that a slice of cherry pie is missing. His wife is allergic to cherries, so he knows that someone else has been in his house.

James heads to the cabinet from which the noise emerged, but Bridget blocks his path. He orders her out of the way and opens the cabinet. Inside, he finds a little person who has concealed himself there.

Commentary

Theme: This chapter mirrors Rufus’s confrontation of Cathy in chapter one. Bridget, like Cathy, tries to distract her husband and denies that anything strange is afoot, but her husband’s suspicions still linger; just as in chapter one, a strange noise leads to the discovery of a man hiding in an enclosed space. This chapter seems like a fantastical exaggeration of the situation in chapter one, leading to the bizarre plot twist of discovering a little person hiding in a kitchen cabinet. Kelly’s theme of the universality of adultery and deception comes to the forefront as we see that people in all walks of life, of all sizes and colors, deal with the same marital issues.
Glossary of Difficult Words and Phrases:

Midget: A person of unusually small size who is proportioned normally.

Chapter 10.

Summary

The diminutive man springs into action, stomping James on the toe and hiding under the table. James hops after him and tackles him. Bridget urges James not to hurt the man, but James continues to beat him. Bridget runs upstairs and takes a phone number out of her purse.

James questions the little man, but the little man will not reveal why he's in James's house. The man claims that somebody paid him to be there, but won't reveal who, or why.

At Sylvester's house, Twan, Sylvester and Gwendolyn are putting the day’s events behind them by drinking beer and playing cards. They are interrupted by a phone call. An agitated Bridget explains that she found Gwendolyn's number in her husband's pocket, and urges her to send help. Gwendolyn gives Twan and Sylvester the address, and the two men leave to investigate.

Bridget comes downstairs to find James still pistol-whipping her crying lover. She points a shotgun at James and tells him to leave the little man be, and that she loves the little man. The small man denies this, and James points the gun at Bridget, unable to believe that she would choose a midget over him. He says that they're all going to die right there in the kitchen. At that moment, Twan and Sylvester burst in the door and tell James to put his gun down. The chapter closes as they wonder what the foul smell in the air is.

Commentary

Character Insight: James’s character is fleshed out further in this chapter; we see that the shock of his adulterous affair being discovered coupled with the shame of his wife’s affair with a little person has pushed James to the brink of sanity; he attempts to recover his power over his own situation by beating and intimidating a man half his size. His wife’s pleas for leniency only enrage him further, and the chapter ends with yet another standoff.
Glossary of Difficult Words and Phrases:

God, I think I just shitted on myself: Fear has led me to evacuate my bowels.

Chapter 11

Summary

The little gentlemen, having fainted, wakes up again. Sylvester comments that the small man looks familiar. James and Bridget are pointing guns at each other, and Sylvester is pointing a gun at James. Sylvester suggests that everyone put their guns down so that they might handle the situation maturely and responsibly, but James and Bridget are both unwilling to surrender their guns. Twan offers to shoot both James and Bridget, but Sylvester rejects the idea, since it would mean that Twan would have to go to prison.

Bridget reveals that the small man's name is Big Man, and the irony is not lost on James, who scoffs at the moniker. Big Man reveals that he's so named because of his unusually large male endowment. He says that he is a dancer at a nightclub. Sylvester mentions the Paje's Club, and Big Man tells Sylvester that they probably look familiar to each other because Big Man also frequents that club.

As Sylvester and Big Man converse, James says "Chuck and Rufus, let's get back to the matter at hand," implying that Big Man and Sylvester are acting like homosexuals. Sylvester demands to know why James knows Chuck and Rufus. Bridget starts to feel nauseous, and tempers escalate once again as James comforts his wife and Sylvester continues to demand to know how James knows the homosexual couple. James refuses to answer and reveals that his wife is three months pregnant. James demands that Twan and Sylvester leave his house. Big Man wants to leave too, saying "Look, I'm just a stripper." He reveals that he met Bridget at a club called Dixie's where he danced.

As tempers continue to escalate, Bridget reveals that she paid for Big Man's company, although who she paid is unclear. Bridget tells James that she has long been aware of his infidelity, and that Big Man is the father of her baby. Big Man faints again.

Commentary

Theme: While the events in Trapped in the Closet were touched off by a one-night-stand between Sylvester and Cathy, we once again find that their adultery is merely peripheral to several shocking and long-standing affairs. We learn that the relationship between Bridget and Big Man is perhaps the most significant of all; the theme of the universality of marital stress is given added weight and poignancy by the inclusion of a pregnancy. The news is a shock to everyone, but most of all to Big Man, who faints dead away when he hears it; clearly, he is overwhelmed by the prospect that his affair, in which he apparently had little emotional investment, has produced such an unexpected result.

Literary Device: It is also noteworthy that Kelly switches between first and third person in this chapter, sometimes referring to Sylvester by name and sometimes remaining inside the character. With this disjointed narrative, Kelly subtly brings the listener into the madness and confusion of the situation.

Glossary of Difficult Words and Phrases:

Hot mess: An extremely ridiculous situation.

I'm blessed: I am lucky to be endowed with an unusually large penis.

Let me do this nigger: Twan is asking Sylvester's permission to have sex with James.

Stripper: A person, usually a midget, who removes their clothes for money.

Tripping: In this case, struggling to comprehend a strange situation.

Chapter 12

Summary

Back at Rufus and Cathy's house, Cathy, Chuck and Rufus are embroiled in a bitter argument. Rufus accuses Cathy of almost getting them shot, and Cathy retorts that Rufus may have given her a sexually transmitted disease because of his affair with Chuck. This angers Chuck, and he pulls out a knife and threatens to cut Cathy.

Rufus and Cathy continue to argue; Rufus says that news of a pastor and a deacon sleeping together would be scandalous. Cathy demands that Chuck leave, because Rufus is her husband and he has no right to a relationship with him. Rufus insists that Chuck stays until the situation is settled. As Chuck and Cathy's tempers rise, the phone rings.

Cathy answers it, and Gwendolyn is on the line. She describes the strange events that have befallen her over the day, starting with her and James spotting Sylvester at the Paje's club, leaving with a cheap-looking woman in a wig. Cathy tries to tell Gwendolyn that she was the woman in the wig, but Gwendolyn keeps talking and won't let her get a word in edgewise. Rufus becomes impatient and tells Cathy to get off the phone. Cathy finally manages to get Gwendolyn to stop talking, and reveals to her that the "ho" in question was Cathy herself.

Commentary

Character Insight: Gwendolyn’s earlier words, “what goes around comes back around,” return to haunt her in chapter twelve. The tangled web of adultery she and Cathy had woven is exposed in full: Cathy introduced her to James, thus enabling her infidelity, but Gwendolyn failed to see that Cathy was a frustrated woman as well. While Gwendolyn was busy at a nightclub with James, Cathy was sneaking home with Sylvester. Whether setting Gwendolyn up with James was merely a ploy by Cathy to win Sylvester’s affections remains ambiguous, but in the end, Cathy had the strength to reveal her secret to Gwendolyn.

Theme: This chapter continues Kelly’s exploration of homosexuality in black America, but the issue is further complicated by the revelation that Chuck is a deacon; along with Rufus, a pastor, their secret love violates not only marital taboos, but religious taboos as well. As chapter twelve ends, the fate of their relationship is still unresolved.

Glossary of Difficult Words and Phrases:

Skank: A dance usually associated with ska music, characterized by leaning forward, extending the arms, and raising the knees.

Narrow ass: A poorly-rounded posterior.

Snurs her nose: A derisive nose-gesture of some kind.

Old crusty wig-wearing ass ho: An elderly woman with eczema who wears a wig and sells her body for money.

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