All American Boys

David Butler Character Analysis

David is Rashad and Spoony’s father and Jessica’s husband. He has traditional, conservative ideas about discipline, duty, and success, and tends towards “respectability politics” on racial issues. He served in the military and the police force before taking an office job, and always encourages Rashad to join the military because he thinks this is the best thing a black man can do in America. David has a difficult relationship with Spoony, whose political beliefs and other choices he vocally disapproves of. Toward the end of the novel, David admits to Rashad that while working as a police officer, he shot an unarmed black man, Darnell Shackleford, leaving him paralyzed. For most of his life, David has not been able to reckon with his own wrongdoing. However, toward the end of the novel he embraces the importance of protesting police brutality, and in doing so acknowledges his complicity in this issue.

David Butler Quotes in All American Boys

The All American Boys quotes below are all either spoken by David Butler or refer to David Butler. 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:
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Atheneum edition of All American Boys published in 2015.
1. Friday: Rashad Quotes

I didn’t need ROTC. But I did it, and I did it good, because my dad was pretty much making me. He's one of those dudes who feels like there's no better

opportunity for a black boy in this country than to join the army. That's literally how he always put it. Word for word.

Related Characters: Rashad Butler (speaker), David Butler
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
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5. Sunday: Rashad Quotes

Honestly, I just wanted to take it easy for the rest of the day. I didn’t want to hear Spoony preach about how hard it is to be black, or my father preach about how young people lack pride and integrity, making us easy targets. I didn't even want to think about the preacher preaching about how God is in control of it all, or my mother, my sweet, sweet mother caught in the middle of it all. The referee who blows the whistle but is way too nice to call foul on anyone. That’s her. She just wants me to be okay. That's it and that’s all. So if football was going to be the thing that took our minds off the mess for at least a few hours, then fine with me.

Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:
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12. Wednesday: Rashad Quotes

My dad, my dad, had paralyzed an unarmed kid, a black kid, and I had had no

idea. My dad shot a kid. I mean, to me, my father was the model of discipline and courage. Sure, he was stern, and sometimes judgmental, but I always felt like he meant well. But to that kid––and now my head was reeling––to that kid, my dad was no different than Officer Galluzzo. Another trigger-happy cop who was quick to assume and even quicker to shoot.

Page Number: 234
Explanation and Analysis:
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David Butler Character Timeline in All American Boys

The timeline below shows where the character David Butler appears in All American Boys. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. Friday: Rashad
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
...excited to party. Rashad is not particularly enthusiastic about ROTC, and explains that his father, David, makes him do it. David believes that being in the military is the best thing... (full context)
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
...for what to tag, but never joins in himself, worried about getting in trouble with David. (full context)
3. Saturday: Rashad
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
...sitting at his bedside. He feels terrible, but is grateful to at least be alive. David enters, and Jessica asks Rashad to tell them, honestly, what happened. Rashad tries to explain... (full context)
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
David mentions that the police said Rashad resisted arrest, adding that he always told his sons... (full context)
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
...down, but this only angers him further. He recites statistics about police racism, which frustrates David, who Rashad notes always calls Spoony “a rebel without a cause.” Dr. Barnes enters, and... (full context)
5. Sunday: Rashad
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
...of West Springfield.” Spoony explains that he and Berry sent Rashad’s information to the news. David explodes with anger, saying Rashad “doesn’t need all this craziness.” Spoony responds that police brutality... (full context)
8. Monday: Rashad
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
10. Tuesday: Rashad
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
Jessica enters Rashad’s room, and says that David couldn’t make it, as he has an upset stomach. She gives Rashad an envelope from... (full context)
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
...watching Family Feud when Spoony and Berry arrive. Berry is in law school, which pleases David. She is also beautiful; Rashad describes her as “everybody’s first crush.” However, after she and... (full context)
12. Wednesday: Rashad
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
...On Tuesday night, Rashad had a nightmare about what happened at Jerry’s. In the morning, David comes to visit him before work at 7am. (full context)
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
Hesitantly, David begins to tell Rashad a story from when he was a cop. To Rashad’s surprise,... (full context)
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
Rashad is in shock. He has only ever heard stories of heroic acts David committed as a cop. David explains that it turns out Darnell was the one being... (full context)
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
Rashad asks why David wanted to be a cop, and he says he wanted to do good. After the... (full context)
14. Thursday: Rashad
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
After seeing a comment about David’s shooting of Darnell Shackleford, Rashad decides to look up Darnell. Seeing pictures of Darnell in... (full context)
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
...adds that Pastor Johnson will be coming with a group of people. Rashad wonders if David will come. Spoony suggested doing a die-in at the march, explaining that this involves lying... (full context)
16. Friday: Rashad
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
...his stomach, she points out that he feels his nerves in his stomach, just like David. Rashad is intrigued, as he has never known his father to show fear. He thinks... (full context)
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
...stories of marching in different cities, and the pain of being tear-gassed. Rashad asks if David is coming to the march, and Jessica replies that she doesn’t know. She says that... (full context)
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Fathers and Sons Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
...up at the very front, leading the crowd. Outside the police station, Rashad suddenly sees David. Both he and Spoony are in shock, and grin in unison. Jessica begins to cry.... (full context)