Chapter 7 to 9 Summary of We Need New Names

Suddenly, Darling’s father comes home. He is incredibly sick: “unable to move, unable to talk properly, unable to anything, vomiting

We Need New Names Hardcover
We Need New Names Hardcover

Chapter 7 Summary: “Shhhh”

Suddenly, Darling’s father comes home. He is incredibly sick: “unable to move, unable to talk properly, unable to anything, vomiting and vomiting, Jesus, just vomiting and defecating on himself, and it smelling like something dead in there.” He lays in Mother’s bed and when Darling first sees him, she is so surprised and scared that she runs out of the shack screaming, causing her mother to say “Shhhh”. Darling’s father calls her “my boy” and her mother makes her hold his hand.

Darling remembers when her father decided to go to South Africa, against her mother’s wishes. He was getting angrier and angrier back then, and on a certain day he told Darling’s mother that everyone else was leaving and that they never should have come to Paradise to begin with. Mother of Bones was also there and talked about God, which Father laughed meanly at. Mother argued that their whole family was there and then told Darling rudely to stop listening and go play with her friends. Soon, Father left for South Africa and didn’t send back any of the things he had promised.

Again, in the present, Mother tells Darling to “Shhhh” not to tell anyone that her father has returned. It is now Darling’s job to take care of her father when Mother and Mother of Bones are not there, so she cannot go out and play with her friends. They come to the shack, but she tells them she is tired and then that she is sick. Finally, one day, Bastard tells her that she’s lying. They stand in silence a while and then they all hear Darling’s father starting to cough from inside the shack. Darling runs into the shack and slams the door. Her friends try to get her to open the door but eventually leave her alone. Eventually he stops coughing, but Darling keeps sitting there thinking, “Die. Die now so I can go play with my friends.”


Prophet Revelations Bitchington Mborro comes to pray for Father. He lights four colored candles, lays out a white cloth, and then starts to pray loudly. Because it takes so long, Darling counts to a hundred and then starts to think about prayer. Finally, Prophet Revelations Bitchington Mborro finishes and says that God showed him that the spirit of Darling’s grandfather has left her and gone into Father. He says that they will need to sacrifice two goats on the mountain and pay him five hundred U.S. dollars. He also says that Mother is possessed by three demons, causing her to be unhappy and dangerous. Since they cannot afford this sacrifice or payment, Mother of Bones begins to fast and pray on the mountain and Mother returns to the border to sell things.

Darling’s friends come back to her and tell her that they know her Father is in the shack and that he has “the Sickness,” AIDS. They ask to come inside and she takes them in there. They kneel around the bed and everyone is very quiet, looking at Father’s bony body. Bastard takes Father’s hand and speaks to him kindly and Father tries to speak back but cannot. They talk about Father’s death right in front of him, and Darling says that he is going to heaven. Godknows starts to sing a song and then they all join in, holding Father’s hand and touching him like he is “a beautiful plaything we have just rescued from a rubbish bin in Budapest.” Father looks back at them with “a strange light in his sunken eyes”.

Chapter 8 Summary: “Blak Power”

In Chapter 8 of We Need New Names he children are in Budapest again stealing guavas. They meet a guard who speaks to them with very elevated English that they make fun of. At one-point, Bastard spits on the ground which angers the guard greatly. The guard yells at them and insults their fathers, but the children will not budge and taunt him about not having a car, walkie-talkie, or handcuffs. The guard finally tries to hit Bastard with his baton, but Bastard is able to get out of the way. As they yell back and forth, a red car drives up and the guard runs over to open the gate. Stina, who knows a lot about cars, says that the car was a Lamborghini Reventon and Darling says that she will have that kind of car when she goes to live with Aunt Fostalina in the United States.

We Need New Names
Front cover of We Need New Names

On another street, the children find a tree with guavas in front of a nice house. While they are up in the tree, they suddenly see a swarm of people approach the house in a pack, yelling things like “Strike fear in the heart of the white man!” The people don’t see them in the tree, so they are able to witness the entire scene below while keeping very quiet. The people pound the door of the house with machetes until a white man, white woman, and tiny dog emerge. The gang laughs raucously at the little dog and then snatch it from the white woman and start to throw it around. Finally, one man kicks the dog far over a wall. The white man yells to the crowd, “What do you want?” and one man from the crowd comes forward with a piece of paper. They are trying to kick him off the property to reclaim it for Africans; they call him a “colonist” even though he protests that he himself was born in Africa, as was his father. The white man tears up the paper and then stomps and pummels it into the ground. The crowd enters the house and the sounds of things being smashed can be heard outside. The children in the tree fight about whether they should leave or wait for the people to all leave first. They stay, and eventually the people come out. They grab the white people and take them with them; as they pass, the white woman looks up in the tree and sees them.

When the mob is gone, the children come down from the tree and enter the house. The children are shocked by how cold it is inside, and looking around they see broken furniture and electronics everywhere. The children find a black mask and many pictures on the wall; they look at the pictures as if in a museum, analyzing the people and moments in each. Seeing a picture of the queen, they talk about crowns and gold, fighting over these foreign concepts. They go into the bedroom and get in the big, soft bed. Sbho suggests that they “do the adult thing”, so the boys get on top of the girls and lay there. Suddenly, they hear the phone ring. They pick up the phone and pass it around until it gets to Darling, who talks to the person on the other end. She tells the person about the gang that came and took the white people; the person on the other end turns out to be the white couple’s adult child. Another voice, a white man’s voice, comes on the phone and speaks to Darling in her own language, which she finds funny but also disappointing because she was proud of speaking well in English. When the phone call ends, they go into the kitchen and gorge themselves on food from the stocked fridge. They attempt to eat with forks “like proper white people,” but soon decide this is too difficult and go back to eating with their hands. When Godknows needs to use the toilet, they find a bathroom at the end of the hallway. The room is clean and white except for “the words Blak Power written in brown feces on the large bathroom mirror.”

Chapter 9 Summary: “For Real”

Darling and her friends are playing when they hear singing approaching Heavenway, the cemetery. It is Bornfree’s funeral. Darling narrates about how she used to fear cemeteries and death but doesn’t anymore, and about how there have been many funerals lately for “the Change people, like Bornfree” (135). Rather than cry, these mourners chant and raise their fists in anger. Darling says that after the election there was much talk of how things would change, but time passed without change and then men came for people like Bornfree. Along with the pack of mourners in black, Bornfree’s mother wears red and writhes like she is in pain, and two people from the BBC take photos and video. There are angry speeches and prayers at the funeral and then the coffin is lowered into the grave. Bornfree’s mother shouts while the coffin is lowered and must be restrained; she is released once the coffin is buried and the group begins to sing, but she runs off screaming partway through the song. The children talk about what happens after death and then they start to play a game where they are Bornfree and the men who killed him.

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