Brought up by his grandparents, Chauncey Knuckle has done well for a country boy whose mother died at his birth and whose father is mostly absent. He has won a place at a prestigious college for boys in Montego Bay, and his juvenile writing has won him prizes and some praise. But at the point when he is about to set off for university, he can only wonder what kind of a person he has become.
He has messed up a promising relationship with his girlfriend and discovered in himself a shameful propensity for sexual violence. He has witnessed his closest friend, Tristan, shot dead by the police and wonders about his role in Tristan’s downfall. Why did he fail to expose respected elder, Deacon Mac, for abusing Tristan when they were boys? Was he, too, infected by his school’s virulent homophobia in his attitude to his friend’s emerging gay sexuality?
Death Register is a devastatingly honest portrayal of the construct of a toxic masculinity. The college Chauncey enters is an institution still infected with the hangovers of colonialism, that offers a training in elitism, misogyny and homophobia, with secret societies and ritual brothel visits that enforce a twisted morality. Chauncy discovers, too, that the boundaries between elite schooling and the criminal gang life of Montego Bay are crossed far more often than the parents who send their boys to this school could ever imagine.