Sorting through their new provisions as they continue on their drive, Lacey is frustrated to find that Quentin forgot the healthy food she instructed him to buy. She remarks that she cannot eat the junk food he bought for himself, Radar, and Ben, because it will make her fat. Quentin finally coaxes her into trying a chocolate- flavored nutrition bar, and she cannot hide her delight. Unpacking the last bag, Radar discovers that the shirts Ben bought are emblazoned with the Confederate flag and the slogan, “Heritage Not Hate” — an accident, and an ironic one given Radar is African-American. Radar curses Ben, but laughs nevertheless.
As Quentin and his friends get further into their road trip, the minivan becomes a kind of alternate universe, in which circumstances for people to do things they would never do in their normal lives. In Lacey’s case, her willingness to let go of conventional standards of beauty and enjoy food without anxiety illustrates how her friends have made her feel safer and more comfortable than she typically does. In Radar’s case, as an African American he is facing a part of American history—Confederate slavery—that treated an entire race like “paper people,” like two dimensional beings who were unworthy even of freedom. In a novel focused on recognizing the common humanity of others Green, the novelist, is here recognizing the awful consequences of not doing so.