All American Boys

by

Jason Reynolds

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All American Boys: 8. Monday: Rashad Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Rashad thinks about Aaron Douglas, a painter who was part of the Harlem Renaissance. Rashad has been into art since he was a young child. Every Sunday after church, his family used to go to a diner downtown and David would give Rashad the comics section of the newspaper. Rashad’s favorite was a strip called The Family Circus, which he tore out and saved each week. Eventually, Rashad started drawing his own cartons featuring his family, and which also were influenced by the work of Aaron Douglas.
Rashad’s love of art and the happy memories of visiting the diner after church give a glimpse of his life outside of racism and violence. Whereas people like Paul perceive Rashad as a criminal and a thug, in reality he is a creative, sensitive person.
Themes
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Without thinking about it, Rashad begins to draw a picture of what happened to him at Jerry’s. While he is drawing, Clarissa enters with his food. She says she could tell he was an artist, and asks to see the drawing. Although Rashad has only just started it, Clarissa announces that “it’s gonna be good.” She tells Rashad that what happened to him is “bullshit.” Rashad shows her other drawings from his sketchbook and she is impressed. Clarissa leaves, promising to come back and check on him later. 
Rashad has found little comfort in the attention his case has been getting or in the visit from Pastor Johnson. He is, however, cheered by the support he receives from strangers such as Clarissa. While it can seem as if many people in Springfield support Paul, plenty more take Rashad’s side.
Themes
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
As soon as Clarissa is gone, Rashad decides he needs to leave his room. He goes down to the first floor of the hospital to the gift shop. As he looks around the items for sale, he is careful not to make any sudden moves. Eventually, the woman behind the counter asks if he needs any help, and tells him to relax, because she knows he is not stealing. She introduces herself as Shirley Fitzgerald, and the two get into a conversation, during which Rashad lies and pretends to be in the hospital because of a car accident. Mrs. Fitzgerald explains that she started volunteering at the gift shop after her husband died and her children and grandchildren grew up. She tells Rashad to come back and visit her again.
Rashad’s caution inside the gift shop highlights the lasting impacts that racism can have on the lives of black people. Even the ordinary act of looking around a store is no longer simple for Rashad; instead, it is now charged and traumatic. Rashad’s trauma is further accentuated by his decision to lie about what put him in hospital. Even though he did nothing wrong, he still seems somewhat ashamed of what happened to him.
Themes
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
In the afternoon, Carlos, Shannon, and English arrive at the hospital to visit Rashad. As the boys catch up, Carlos pretends he hooked up with Tiffany, before revealing that he is just joking. Shannon mentions that Tiffany asked about Rashad today, and that a bunch of kids at school are thinking of coming to visit Rashad. Rashad asks his friends to tell everyone he’s fine, but that he doesn’t want any visitors. The boys joke around until Rashad makes a joke about what happened to him, which is met with awkward silence. English has so far remained silent, and when Rashad asks if he’s okay, he responds by mentioning how strange it is that the cop who beat up Rashad is Guzzo’s older brother. 
Unsurprisingly, Rashad’s friends bring him more comfort than anyone else in the novel so far. Whereas other characters fixate on what happened to him, treating him either with suspicion or as a kind of martyr, Rashad’s friends just act normal around him, which makes him feel better. The exception to this is English, who seems more troubled by the incident than the others and more unsure of how to act in its wake.
Themes
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
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Shannon asks Rashad to tell his version of what happened at Jerry’s. The boys are shocked by the story, and English in particular is launched into a daze. Suddenly English says it’s time for them to leave, as they have practice. However, Carlos insists that “somebody gotta do something” about what happened to Rashad. English is hesitant; Rashad knows that both he and Shannon are reluctant to break any rules. After they leave, Rashad sees his face on TV again. He tries to turn it off, but the remote doesn’t work. He grows increasingly frustrated, finally ripping the TV cord from its socket.
The joy Rashad receives from seeing his friends is, sadly, rather short-lived. Although his friends are well-intentioned, they are just as confused as Rashad about how to react to the incident at Jerry’s. Rashad seems to suppress his own feelings of powerlessness until he is alone. In a bout of frustration, he takes them out on the TV.
Themes
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon