Jasper Jones

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Charlie’s close friend, Jeffrey Lu is a twelve-year-old Vietnamese boy who is in the same grade as Charlie and Eliza, having been skipped forward one year. Jeffrey has an absurd, frequently vulgar sense of humor, and for long stretches of the novel he peppers Charlie with strange questions and insults, which Charlie returns. Jeffrey is an enormously optimistic person and a superb cricket player. Ultimately, his determination and optimism win him the grudging respect of the Corrigan townspeople. At the same time, Jeffrey deals with racism and discrimination from the townspeople, because his family is Vietnamese (the novel takes place at the height of the Vietnam War.)

Jeffrey Lu Quotes in Jasper Jones

The Jasper Jones quotes below are all either spoken by Jeffrey Lu or refer to Jeffrey Lu. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fear Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Ember edition of Jasper Jones published in 2012.
Chapter 2 Quotes

I wish I could tell Jeffrey everything. I really do. I wonder what it is about holding in a secret that hurts so much. I mean, telling Jeffrey doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t take anything back. It’s just information. It doesn’t dredge that poor girl from the depths of the dam, doesn’t breathe her back to life. So why do I feel like I need to blurt it all out?

Related Characters: Charlie Bucktin (speaker), Jeffrey Lu, Laura Wishart
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

Charlie--who's now an accomplice to Jasper, having hidden a dead body at the bottom of a lake--contemplates spilling his secrets to his best friend Jeffrey Lu. Although Charlie and Jeffrey are close friends, Charlie knows that he can't share his secret with anyone--he swore an oath to Jasper to keep silent about the previous night.

Charlie's behavior during this scene suggests a strong need to tell someone about his traumatic experiences with Laura's dead body. By telling someone about his trauma, Charlie hopes to lessen the burden of remembering Laura. In a sense, Charlie is trying to lessen the burden by writing the book we're reading. In other words, Jasper Johns represents Charlie's attempt make sense of his frightening, complex experiences.

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He doesn’t need superpowers. That’s my point. You’re an idiot. He can hold his own. He has an alter ego. He has a costume. He fights for Truth and Justice. He has arch enemies. And he does all this without any weird mutations. He’s just really determined. That’s what makes him interesting. The fact that with enough dedication and desire, we could all be Batman. Batmen. Batpeople. And that’s what makes him the best.

Related Characters: Charlie Bucktin (speaker), Jeffrey Lu
Related Symbols: Batman versus Superman
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Charlie and Jeffrey have a strange, trivial-sounding conversation about the differences between Batman and Superman—a conversation that ends up being more thematically important than it seemed at first. Jeffrey argues that Superman is the superior hero: he’s stronger than Batman, faster, can fly, etc. Charlie makes the interesting argument that while Batman is physically weaker than Superman, and has no superpowers, his humanity makes him the braver, more heroic person. Superman has very little to fear—he knows he’s essentially invincible. Batman, on the other hand, faces his fear every day. He’s learned to embrace fear and move past it—a kind of heroism Charlie admires more than brute strength or speed.

Charlie’s argument reinforces one of the key themes of the book—overcoming one’s fear. Charlie deals with a series of frightening and intimidating situations. Gradually, he comes to accept that bravery isn’t the opposite of fear at all: true bravery involves first facing fear, then summoning the willpower to continue on.

Chapter 4 Quotes

Strangely, of all the horrible things I’ve encountered and considered recently, dropping a bomb seems to be the least violent among them, even though it’s clearly the worst. But there’s no evil mug shot, no bloody globe. It’s hard to figure out who to blame. There’s something clean about all that distance. Maybe the further away you are, the less you have to care, the less you’re responsible. But that seems wrong to me. It should be in the news. It’s wrong that they died. But if they weren’t Jeffrey’s family, would I care so much? That’s hard. Probably not, I guess. I mean, if you took every bad event in the world to heart, you’d be a horrible mess.

Related Characters: Charlie Bucktin (speaker), Jeffrey Lu, Mrs. Lu, An Lu
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Charlie thinks about the news he's just heard: his friend Jeffrey Lu's uncle and aunt were killed in a bombing in the Vietnam War. Charlie feels horrible, but his sympathy is mostly directed at Jeffrey, his best friend. Charlie is less concerned by the death of Jeffrey's relatives than he is by the death of Laura Wishart: one girl's death seems to outweigh an entire village's destruction.

As Charlie's thought process suggests, there's a limit to the amount of compassion and understand one can feel for other people. Nobody can muster sympathy for everyone else--one must choose which people to feel sympathy for. Proximity and similarity usually determine how much sympathy one feels--i.e., Charlie feels sorriest for the people he knows, or for close friends and relatives of the people he knows (there's also often a subconscious racial or nationalistic aspect to this kind of empathy as well).

Charlie's thoughts also imply that there's a limit to the amount of understanding he'll be able to muster for criminals like Gertrude Baniszewki. Even if it's possible, in an abstract sense, for Charlie to sympathize with this murderer, he simply doesn't have the moral strength to understand and sympathize with all similar people--if he tried to do so, he'd be a "horrible mess."

Chapter 6 Quotes

I was terrified, but something kicked in me. I discovered a gift for lies. I looked straight at them and offered up the best story I could muster. It was like I’d clicked opened my suitcase and started spinning a thread at my desk. Weaving between the factual and the fictional. It was factitious. And Jeffrey was right, it was all in the delivery. I had them. I’d reeled them in. They all nodded like it was the truth, writing it down on a yellow pad.

Related Characters: Charlie Bucktin (speaker), Jeffrey Lu
Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:

Immediately after returning from his late-night meeting with Jasper Jones, Charlie is taken to speak with the town's police officer. Charlie's parents--afraid that their son was kidnapped by the same person who kidnapped Laura Wishart--have called the police, and now Charlie is forced to lie about his whereabouts (he can't mention anything about Jasper for fear that he'll incriminate Jasper).

Under pressure, Charlie learns some important lessons about the power of writing, and about fear. Although Charlie is nervous and frightened of being caught in a lie, he uses his intelligence and familiarity with books to craft an elaborate lie that disguises his nervousness perfectly. As we've already seen, Charlie uses writing and communication to keep himself sane--he keeps a diary of his experiences in order to mitigate some of his trauma and anxiety. But here, Charlie uses storytelling to keep himself and Jasper out of danger--and he discovers a pleasure in telling these lies, and convincing others of their truth.

The next ball Jeffrey punches through cover, zipping through for two runs. And it’s with complete disbelief that I hear real encouragement from the sideline. His teammates. In unison those belligerent bastards, yelling, “Shot, Cong!” across the field, at once turning an insult into a nickname.

Related Characters: Charlie Bucktin (speaker), Jeffrey Lu
Page Number: 187-188
Explanation and Analysis:

Although Jeffrey Lu is hated in his community--he's Vietnamese, and therefore a representative of the country with which Australia is currently fighting a war--he's eventually allowed to play a game of cricket with the rest of his town's team. Surprisingly, Jeffrey's abilities slowly earn him the admiration of his peers--he's so good at cricket, and so useful to his team that eventually his teammates have no choice but to admit it.

Jeffrey's performance in this scene shows one way that minorities have struggled for equality: through personal achievement. It's unfair, of course, that Jeffrey should have to succeed at cricket just to be treated as a human being, but it's undeniable that in this instance his talents help convince his peers to accept him, at least for the time being.

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Jeffrey Lu Character Timeline in Jasper Jones

The timeline below shows where the character Jeffrey Lu appears in Jasper Jones. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Racism and Scapegoating Theme Icon
Escape, Guilt, and Writing Theme Icon
...meaning that he’s generally resented. His best and only friend is a Vietnamese boy named Jeffrey Lu, who’s a year younger than Charlie and skipped a grade of school. Jeffrey is... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
...where Laura is hanging, intending to cut her down. As he climbs, Charlie thinks about Jeffrey Lu, who is undoubtedly awake at the moment, thinking about the upcoming cricket match featuring... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...father muses that it’s been years since he read that. He also tells Charlie that Jeffrey has been waiting for Charlie to wake up. Charlie remembers that today is the day... (full context)
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In the hot sun, Charlie walks to Jeffrey Lu’s house, which is near his own. Jeffrey’s mother greets Charlie warmly and tells him... (full context)
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Jeffrey asks Charlie if he’d rather be burned or frozen to death. Charlie finds the question... (full context)
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Jeffrey and Charlie spend the rest of the afternoon listening to the radio for more information... (full context)
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Jeffrey and Charlie walk to the eastern side of Corrigan and bicker about superheroes. Jeffrey argues... (full context)
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As Charlie and Jeffrey argue about superheroes, Jeffrey points out Eliza Wishart walking toward them from down the street.... (full context)
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When Jeffrey and Charlie arrive at the cricket courts, they see that the courts are occupied by... (full context)
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Charlie notices that Jeffrey is approaching Warwick and his friends. Warwick calls Jeffrey a “gook” and tells him to... (full context)
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Charlie thinks about Jasper Jones’s talents as a football player. While Jeffrey is mocked in spite of his abilities as a cricketer, Jasper has earned a grudging... (full context)
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Jeffrey continues to bowl for the cricket team. His throws are excellent, but when the ball... (full context)
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...hours by throwing Laura in the river. As he muses about this, Charlie notices that Jeffrey has bowled to the batsman, even though the other players are continuing to mock him.... (full context)
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Charlie notices that the cricket coach is chuckling at the other players’ mockery of Jeffrey. Furious, Charlie thinks that the coach may be capable of murdering a girl. Meanwhile, Jeffrey... (full context)
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Jeffrey and Charlie walk back to Jeffrey’s house, where Jeffrey’s father, An, is watering the garden... (full context)
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...his notebook, and wonders why he can’t force himself to be braver. He thinks that Jeffrey might be the bravest person he knows, even braver than Jasper. (full context)
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Charlie looks through his notebooks. He finds the novel that he and Jeffrey wrote together last winter. Jeffrey was responsible for the action scenes, while Charlie was responsible... (full context)
Chapter 3
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The day after he sees Jeffrey, Charlie wakes up and sees a large wasp on his window. He throws a copy... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
Understanding, Innocence, and Sympathy Theme Icon
...mother tells him to stay in sight of the house if he spends time with Jeffrey. Charlie asks why, and in response, she only glares at him and says that she’s... (full context)
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After he reads the paper, Charlie walks to Jeffrey’s house, where An Lu is still working on his garden. Charlie knocks on the door,... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
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...he thinks about Jasper, with his alcoholic, physically abusive father, and other victims of bullying: Jeffrey; Prue Styles, a lonely girl with a birthmark; and Sam Quinn, a boy with a... (full context)
Chapter 4
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The day after he digs the hole, Charlie meets Jeffrey in the street to play cricket and listen to a cricket match on the radio.... (full context)
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Charlie bowls to Jeffrey, who easily hits everything he receives. After about half an hour of this, Charlie notices... (full context)
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...at his window. Charlie is sure that it’s Jasper, and so is surprised to see Jeffrey instead. Jeffrey is excited because his favorite cricketer, Doug Walters, did well in his first... (full context)
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Charlie tells Jeffrey that he’s sorry for his family’s loss. Jeffrey mentions that his mother has begun saying... (full context)
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...also realizes that he wouldn’t care so much about Vietnam if he weren’t friends with Jeffrey, and this distresses Charlie. (full context)
Chapter 5
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In the remainder of the week leading up to Jasper’s return, little happens. Jeffrey doesn’t make the Country Week cricket team, which surprises no one, Charlie’s mother is irritable,... (full context)
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In the vestibule of the Miners’ Hall, Charlie notices Jeffrey with his parents. Charlie greets Jeffrey, and they agree that the police know nothing. In... (full context)
Chapter 6
Fear Theme Icon
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...his room until the New Year. Charlie resumes his story on Boxing Day, shortly after Jeffrey has been made “twelfth man” for the cricket team. Jeffrey won this position because the... (full context)
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...savoring “the thrill of being outside.” As he arrives at the courts, he sees that Jeffrey is playing. Charlie runs up to the sidelines to talk to Jeffrey, who explains that... (full context)
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An opponent of Jeffrey’s team hits the ball in Jeffrey’s direction, and he runs after it, looking to catch... (full context)
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...Trent goes to bowl against the opposing team. Charlie angrily thinks that he should use Jeffrey, whose bowling skills are excellent. Instead, Charlie notes, Jeffrey is forced to stand and watch—on... (full context)
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...is watching the game from a hill. She waves to him, and he waves back. Jeffrey teases Charlie and urges him to talk to Eliza. Charlie walks forward to Eliza, nervously... (full context)
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...keeps quiet. Eliza asks Charlie to make her laugh, and Charlie asks Eliza the question Jeffrey asked him: “Would you rather wear a hat made of spiders or have penises for... (full context)
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...she continues to laugh. They notice that it’s the Corrigan team’s turn to bat, and Jeffrey is up. The bowler, who obviously thinks little of Jeffrey because he’s short and Asian,... (full context)
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There is a short break in the game, with Jeffrey still up to bat. The Corrigan team brings Jeffrey a drink, and Charlie realizes that... (full context)
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Jeffrey returns to bat for his final set of hits, and Eliza grips Charlie’s hand with... (full context)
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On his next hit, Jeffrey scores two runs, and his teammates encourage him. One teammate calls him “Cong,” but he... (full context)
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When Jeffrey wins the game for Corrigan, the crowd explodes with applause. Jeffrey’s teammates, even Warwick Trent,... (full context)
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...to kiss on the hill. Suddenly, a voice calls out, and Charlie and Eliza turn—it’s Jeffrey, running up the hill with a huge smile on his face. Jeffrey brags good-naturedly about... (full context)
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Jeffrey and Charlie walk to Wesley’s car, laughing about Superman and Lois Lane, as they usually... (full context)
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The evening after Jeffrey’s cricket victory, Jeffrey, Charlie, and Charlie’s parents eat dinner together. Jeffrey recounts his hits, but... (full context)
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...the living room, looks out the window, and sees a group of four men outside Jeffrey’s house, destroying An Lu’s prized garden. An Lu runs outside and, with surprising calmness, asks... (full context)
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...the ground, along with An Lu. Wesley, Charlie, Harry, and Roy stand on the lawn. Jeffrey runs toward one of the assailants, angrier than Charlie has ever seen him. Before he... (full context)
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After the men drive away, Wesley tells An Lu, “I’m sorry.” Harry greets Jeffrey and compliments him on his cricket match the previous day. Jeffrey nods in thanks, but... (full context)
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Charlie thinks angrily about how Jeffrey was on top of the world all day, and now has to deal with the... (full context)
Chapter 7
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It is New Year’s Eve morning, and Charlie is spending time with Jeffrey, who has become fascinated with Bruce Lee. Jeffrey wants to learn the infamous “one-inch punch.”... (full context)
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Charlie and Jeffrey trade insults—Jeffrey teases Charlie about kissing Eliza, and Charlie says that Jeffrey is “a volcanic... (full context)
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Charlie thinks that it’s been difficult not telling Jeffrey about Laura. He wonders if Laura’s dead body will rise to the surface of the... (full context)
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...go see the fireworks. Charlie says that he’s not sure, and that he might see Jeffrey instead. Then, Wesley tells Charlie the truth: he has been working on a novel in... (full context)
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...him to Mad Jack’s house. He tells Wesley he’s going to see the fireworks with Jeffrey. Wesley is clearly disappointed that Charlie isn’t reading his novel right away, and a small... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
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...learn how to “carry fear” and live with fear. Charlie remembers talking about Batman with Jeffrey—much like Bruce Wayne, people have to learn to achieve things while also struggling with their... (full context)
Chapter 9
Fear Theme Icon
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...Jasper hasn’t shown up for school, or even checked his name for the football team. Jeffrey has become a popular student due to his cricketing, and is now a regular member... (full context)
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Jeffrey, Eliza, and Charlie walk close together, followed by schoolboys. Charlie longs to kiss Eliza, but... (full context)
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...satisfaction that Warwick Trent is hanging back—clearly, Charlie has beaten him. Charlie plans to give Jeffrey three peach pits, Eliza one, and then keep one for himself. As the students slap... (full context)
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...from Corrigan. He realizes this a few weeks ago, when he was playing cricket with Jeffrey. At that moment, Charlie stared up at the sky and felt, as if by ESP,... (full context)