Summary of Sixty- Five
Sixty-Five is a book based on the true story of the Morant Bay Rebellion; a rebellion made by the freed slaves of Jamaica, (particularly in the county of Surrey) fighting against injustices such as poor wages and not being able to purchase land. It is written in such a way to give the reader a sense of him being in the book because, it is narrated by a twelve-year-old boy named Japheth Murray who is almost always right there in the action.
The Murray Family is a key element in the story. First of all, Japheth is the narrator of the story, he is right there by Grandpa and in the midst of the action and the wars. His father, Charlie Murray is in the war, fighting with Paul Bogle and his men. Charlie Murray’s “handsome” wife Amelia stays home with Japeth’s 13-year-old sister, Queenie. Grandpa is a old soldier described as a man full of many colourful stories. He has a very strong character probably the result of many years of military training. All of them play their role in the story which makes it much better.
The story begins with Japeth telling about the drought that has been “clutching the land for 3 years” and how it has affected their lives. It then shifts to him eavesdropping on Charlie, Amelia and Grandpa Joe talking about Paul Bogle’s plans to march to the courthouse and demanding justice for the ex-slaves. This is the first display of Grandpa’s strong character. While Charlie and Amelia support Deacon Bogle’s plan, Grandpa strongly opposes saying that if Paul Bogle makes an army he must be prepared to fight a war. Grandpa believes that the best thing to do, is keep on sending his petitions to Governor Eyre.
A few days after, Bogle starts putting his plan into action. With his congregation of hundreds of followers ready to “fight against injustice” he marches to the Courthouse in Morant Bay. In the Courthouse, there a trial is going on with a Stony Gut man so Bogle was going to try and talk to Governor Eyre about this injustice but it doesn’t turn out as he had hoped. Paul Bogle then goes and sends to recruit “Mountain Men” (Maroons) to help him with his next plan of a rebellion. When Paul Bogle and his congregation some time after Grandpa stops him nad the people and confronts the Deacon saying that he should not prepare an army unless he has a war for them to fight and that if he tried to fight then the English soldiers will come and defeat them. Paul Bogle ignores his advice and proceeds.
The story then picks up with the Deacon hosting “the best service yet”in the town church. He tells them about the many injustices that they are fighting agaisnt to give them confidence that they are doing the right thing and tells them that they are not fighting against the queen but the Custos and his wicked magistrates. We also learn George William Gordon’s role in the whole thing – that he is a rich land owner who is a great fighter for the poor. He arranged that many copies of “The Queen’s Letter” be posted everywhere. This letter said that the people of Jamaica could only better themselves if they worked to earn wages. However, they cannot, due to the injustice in their country. So, Paul Bogle and George William Gordon were fighting for the same thing except they had different approaches. George William wanted to “fight with memorials to the Queen while Bogle wanted to fight with muskets”.
When in the service Grandpa yet again confronts Bogle with another piece of useful advice. He asks who they will fight, if not the whole of England in the end. He also asked what they would fight with, the reply was muskets, pimento sticks and the Mountain Men (Maroons) whoo had agreed to help them. Grandpa then argues saying that te Maroons will not help them because they are swron to the Queen by treaty. After some more quarrelling, Bogle proves to have more support than Grandpa and turns almost everyone in the chapel against him.
A few days later, Paul Bogle and his entourage head back for the courthouse, this time, to seek out Custos von Ketelhodt. They wanted to free Charlie Murray and ask that a reply to the Queen’s letter be taken to Governor Eyre. When they get there, they are not allowed in without an appointment so Deacon Bogle decides to wait. On the way to his monthly luncheon , the Custos sees the vast crowd and orders the liutenant to clear the crowd. After Bogle tells him what he wants and that he won’t leave until they talk the Custos becomes irritated and reads the Riot Act. Bogle’s people advance and the milita fire away with their muskets. When Japeth and Grandpa go back to look in the square they saw numbers of men who had fallen. There were seven civilians and seven militamen.
Later that night Bogle’s men “put fire to the school house”. The schoolhouse burnt quickly and many sparks jumped from the schoolhouse to the courthouse causing the courthouse to start burning as well. When Custos and his party ran out of the courthouse, Bogle’s men finished them off.
Grandpa and Japeth returned to Stony Gut that night and told Amelia about the events that took place that day. He predicts that the Maroons will turn against Bogle’s army and join the stronger side. Grandpa decides to help them - only because his family is danger. So, Grandpa and Charlie decide to go talk to Bogle in private about their new plan.
Grandpa and Bogle’s next meeting did not go well. Even after all the previous events Bogle still stuck to his plan and only offered Grandpa a “Company” to help drill. Little does Bogle know that he made a sad mistake.
Grandpa played a major role in the story, as we can see. Numerous times, he had given Deacon Bogle good advice on how to go about his protest. He was the wise, voice of reason in the story. While everyone thought that he was a foolish, old man he could predict what was going to happen because in his old age he had learned and seen things like these happen.
A few days later, a runner came to the villiage, bearing bad news. As Grandpa had assumed, a gun boat arrived on the shores with hundreds of soldiers and they were marching up to Morant Bay and down from the west. Grandpa and Japeth immediately set out to Morant Bay to scout.
Grandpa and Japheth finally reach Morant Bay in the evening. They find out that the Martial Law had been declared, entitling the soldiers to shoot whoever they pleased and many rutheless hangings and gaolings. When Grandpa and Japeth reach the main streets, they disquise themselves as a hunchbacked old-man and his little grandson so that the soldires would not suspect that they were from Stony Gut.
Grandpa and Japeth return to Stony Gut only to find that it is deserted. Shortly after this they set off with pimento sticks and sacks of food to last them their journey. They were going west to help Bogle avoid major conflict anyway they could.
After some time of cutting through the woods, they finally got to the village of Coley. Grandpa and Japeth then stopped at the house of a Blacksmith who Grandpa knew very well – Mr.Norris. They got refreshments from him and information about the whereabouts of some of Bogle’s troops, then leave in pursuit of them.
They soon reached the Monklands, and rest in the chapel which Paul Bogle is expected to return to that evening. When he comes, yet again, Grandpa confronts him, this time telling him that this place where he has led his men is practically walking into a trap.
The Deacon impatiently waves him off, telling him that he has to go recruit more “Mountain Men”. Grandpa doesn’t give up that easily.
The next morning, they went and woke up Bogle from his sleep to go talk to him again. Grandpa told him to send a couple scouts up the banks of the river to see where they were. Sure enough, later that day, a couple worried scouts came back panic stricken that a troop of soldiers were coming up by the banks of the river less than a mile away. Bogle, finally seeing that Grandpa was right asked him for advice, which Grandpa gave him.
The plan was carried out. Grandpa and Japheth climbed to the top of a tall boulder where they could see everything that was happening. The plan was for Bogle’s men to hide behind a collection of large rocks and his scouts to take out any of the enemy’s scouts but it didn’t go that way. All of Bogle’s men were in place and the Redcoats were crossing on the opposite side of the river. They were safe, until one man fired. War broke out and Bogle’s army jumped out from behind their “very secure rocks” and charged the Redcoats. Soon, they found out that the Redcoats were better armed and they scatted for cover.
Grandpa and Japheth headed for the villiage of the Hayfield Maroons next. Since Grandpa knew many people there they rested in one of the houses there- that of the captian and his wife. They talked to her and gathered some very valuable information from her. They learned that the Hayfield Maroons had gone to go protect Bath instead of helping Bogle and the Moore Town Maroons were given new guns to hunt Stony Gut people. However, the piece of information that got to Grandpa most was that George William Gordon was arrested and was to be hanged.
Grandpa and Japheth then head for Torrington. When they reach, they find the village burnt to the ground. They rest there in a cave for the night and the next day, find the band of Moses Bogle. It had dwindled down to only about 30 men. Nevertheless, they find Charlie and are reunited with him and Theresa.
The next day, Bogle and the rmainder of his men go in for the final battle. Grandpa and Japeth mount another boulder overlooking the warfield. Bogle’s men were on one side and the Redcoats on the other side of the river. Soon, the Redcoats broke the tension with the “first volley”. Then the crossfire began. Grandpa was making statements with Beelzebub but soon fled for he knew that it was not safe there.
Bogle ran for the East while being chased by a dozen Maroons. He did not reach very far before they reached him.
Even though at the moment, Bogle and his men seemed defeated a couple years later, their efforts were rewarded. In 1962, we became an independent country and hae our own government with justice for all.