Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 657
As long as I draw a breath in my body I’m gonna do the right thing for me. What I got to be sorry for? People say, “Ain’t you sorry you killed Pernell?” I ain’t sorry I killed Pernell. The nigger deserve to die. He cut my face.
[...]How can I be wrong for killing him?” That’s common sense. I don’t care what the law say. The law don’t understand this. It must not. They wanna take and lock me up. Where’s the understanding? If a burglar break in a white man’s house to steal his TV and the white man shoot him they don’t say he wrong. The law understand that[...].
In the above quotes, King Hedley questions the injustice of society's double standards. King is definitely not sorry for killing Pernell. To King, Pernell deserved to die because of the grave injuries he inflicted on him (King).
King also questions society's views about justice. He laments the disparities in the court system. For example, certain types of violence are classified as either self-defense or murder, depending on the race of the aggressor. King thinks that this is unfair. He maintains that he tried to show the all-white jury his scars, but to no avail. Instead, fearing that King had murderous intentions against the jury, the court ordered 6 deputies to restrain King.
Because of the stereotypical views about black men, King's desperate attempts at exonerating himself were misunderstood. He was angry that his rationale for Pernell's murder was discounted and rejected by the jury. In turn, his anger was interpreted as a prelude to violence on his part. In the end, King was sent to solitary confinement. So, the play highlights the challenges that occur when one's conception of justice conflicts with that of society or the courts.
That’s why I need this baby, not ’cause I took something out the world but because I wanna put something in it. Let everybody know I was here. You got King Hedley II and then you got King Hedley III. Got rocky dirt. Got glass and bottles. But it still deserve to live. Even if you do have to call the undertaker. Even if somebody come along and pull it out by the root. It still deserve to live. It still deserve that chance. I’m here and I ain’t going nowhere. I need to have that baby. Do you understand?
The above quote highlights King's quest for meaning. Even though he believes that Pernell deserved to die, King does regret killing him. He tells Tonya that he was shocked to see Pernell's grave and the inscription that read "Father. Son. Brother." King hadn't realized that Pernell was a father. Now that King is slated to be a father, he wants to redeem himself. So, he begs Tonya to keep the baby.
King tells Tonya that his own father died when he was barely three years old. Additionally, both Pernell and his father are also dead. King believes that the baby Tonya is carrying is a gift. He thinks that by giving the baby a chance to live, he is bringing something beautiful into the world.
Additionally, King wants to break the chain of misery that, until now, has bound him to his past. He wants to leave his former life of crime behind and to begin anew with the birth of his baby. In other words, King wants his legacy to be different from the one his father left him. As for Tonya, she is skeptical that King will change his ways. Tonya is also worried about the birth of a new baby as she already has a teen daughter to contend with. From the play, Tonya and her daughter, Natasha, appear to have a contentious relationship.
So, despite King's efforts at changing his life, he is plagued by persistent conflicts and challenges along the way.