All American Boys

by

Jason Reynolds

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All American Boys: 6. Sunday: Quinn Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On Saturday night, Quinn had stayed in watching a movie and playing video games with Willy. On Sunday, he, Ma, and Willy head over to the Galluzzos’ barbecue. When Ma announces the arrival of her marshmallow pie, everyone cheers. However, as soon as Quinn sees Paul he feels tense. Paul and Guzzo are standing side by side, and Quinn is struck by how enormous they both are. Jill approaches Quinn and strikes up a conversation about the upcoming basketball season. She asks if Coach Carney is putting pressure on Quinn, and he lies in response, telling her it’s “not too bad.”
All of a sudden, Quinn sees Paul and Guzzo through new eyes. Whereas before he saw them as kind, supportive friends who were like family to him, after the incident at Jerry’s he sees how the two brothers could be perceived as intimidating and scary, particularly to those who are on the outside of the “army” of their family.
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Jill confesses that when the cops came to shut down her party, one of them told her: “Don’t fuck this up for your family.” She explains that she didn’t get into major trouble, but that it was still “weird.” The conversation is then interrupted by Mr. Galluzzo, announcing that it is almost halftime and the burgers will need to be ready soon. Quinn quietly admits to Jill that he witnessed the incident at Jerry’s first-hand. Jill tells Quinn that the boy who got beaten was Rashad, and Quinn immediately feels shocked and guilty. Quinn admits that although he doesn’t know what Rashad did, the whole incident was “ugly” and Paul “kicked the shit out of him.” 
The police officers’ intimidation of Jill is strikingly different to the kind of brutal aggression Paul showed to Rashad. The officers who came to her party clearly saw Jill as being on “their side” and as a representative of her family. Even though she was actually breaking the law, they were able to be sympathetic to a degree and let her off with only a warning—a stark contrast to the violence immediately inflicted upon Rashad, who hadn’t actually done anything wrong.  
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Related Quotes
Jill says she heard that Rashad resisted arrest, and asks if Paul saw Quinn at the time. Before Quinn can answer, Paul yells at Quinn to stop “hitting on” Jill and come help with the burgers. Jill barks back, but Quinn feels nervous as he approaches Paul and Guzzo. He notices that Paul is nursing his right hand, which is covered in cuts, in an ice bucket. Quinn and Guzzo have a tense exchange before Paul asks what’s the matter, and emphasizes that any conflict between them will jeopardize the basketball team. He adds that he will soon have a few days off, and offers to help Quinn practice his footwork.
Quinn’s exchange with Paul and Guzzo is charged with passive aggression and unspoken conflict. This is manifested not only in the tense words they exchange with one another, but also by Paul’s hand in the ice bucket. The barbecue is supposed to be light-hearted and fun, but Pauls’ injured hand is a reminder of the act of violence haunting the entire family.
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Although Paul is acting friendly, he is also suspicious of Quinn and comments that he seems “uptight.” Quinn brushes this off and takes the burgers into the living room. He joins in watching the game in order to avoid talking to anyone else; however, he isn’t as distracted by it as he hopes. He then overhears Jill’s mom yelling at her about the party. When Jill makes a subtle allusion to the incident at Jerry’s, Mrs. Galluzzo interrupts, saying: “You watch what you say next,” and tells her to show some respect. Jill’s mom forces her to apologize, and Mrs. Galluzzo softens, saying that Paul’s job is difficult, and she just wants Jill to respect that.
It is striking that the adults at the Galluzzo barbecue subtly choose to bully both Quinn and Jill for not showing enough loyalty to Paul and the family. In particular, Mrs. Galluzzo’s demand for Jill to show respect echoes the words Paul hissed to Rashad during the arrest. While there may be inherent value in discipline and loyalty, what about when these come at the expense of standing up for justice?
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Paul says, “Thanks, Ma,” revealing that he has been listening to the whole conversation. Suddenly, the news comes on, with the item about Rashad and Jerry’s. Someone quickly mutes it, but Quinn has already flushed bright red. Mr. Galluzzo suggests they might need more burgers, but Paul dismisses him. He explains to everyone that there will be a lot of press and “it’s going to look ugly,” but promises that everything will be okay in the end. He declares that he will need his family, and everyone immediately expresses their support. Paul then singles out Quinn, saying he “needs” him to come out and play two-on-two basketball.
So far, the people at the barbecue have avoided discussing the elephant in the room—the incident at Jerry’s—and have instead dealt with it in a passive aggressive, indirect way. However, in this moment Paul confronts the issue head-on, thereby articulating the real reason why the barbecue has been held. It is an event at which the attendees are expected to (indirectly) pledge their support for Paul.
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The teams are Paul and Guzzo against Quinn and Dwyer. While they play, Paul becomes increasingly aggressive with Quinn, while claiming: “I’m just trying to help you.” Eventually, Quinn grows frustrated and goes back inside, saying quick goodbyes to Mrs. Galluzzo and Ma before heading home.
Quinn’s decision to leave the basketball game indicates that he is tired of playing along with other people’s expectations and is beginning to assert himself as a man in his own right.
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