47 pages 1 hour read

Dinaw Mengestu

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2007

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Chapters 14-16Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 14 Summary

Sepha opens the store on Christmas Day when Judith and Naomi are in Connecticut. He knows this is not a day immigrant storekeepers are allowed to take off because so many Americans need last-minute items for their holidays. Sepha describes Christmas Day as his favorite day to work in the store: He likes the quiet and the happy mood of customers who come by.

When he calls Joseph, he learns that Kenneth’s bosses asked him to be in the office that day. The three men meet up at their usual bar, but by the time Kenneth joins them, Sepha and Joseph are already drunk. Joseph decries his position: His dream of getting a PhD never happened, and he still works in the same restaurant serving white people while wearing a tuxedo and pretending it is the 19th century. He accuses Kenneth, still dressed in his work suit, of being the “perfect immigrant” (182) or, according to the perspective of the 1800s, a perfect house slave. Kenneth takes offense and asks, “Which one is it, Joseph? […] The perfect immigrant or the perfect slave? You can’t have it both ways” (182).