All American Boys

Uniforms Symbol Analysis

Uniforms Symbol Icon

In the novel, uniforms are at times presented as a symbol of discipline, respectability, and belonging—and at other times as a sign of excessive authority and danger. As someone who served in ROTC, the military, and the police force, David is the character most closely associated with uniforms and is the one who most strongly believes in the value of having a uniform. He sees wearing a uniform as a source of pride and a sign that someone is part of something bigger than themselves, that they are disciplined, and that they serve others. Rashad, however, feels more ambivalent about uniforms. He wears his ROTC uniform reluctantly, finding it somewhat embarrassing to have attention drawn to the fact that he is a cadet. He also notices a discrepancy in the feelings his father has about uniforms. While David praises people who wear a police or military uniform, he is disdainful of Spoony’s “brown uniform”—the uniform of UPS workers. This difference highlights David’s attachment to a very narrow and perhaps mistaken understanding of discipline, morality, and achievement.

Uniforms Quotes in All American Boys

The All American Boys quotes below all refer to the symbol of Uniforms. 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.
6. Sunday: Quinn Quotes

I felt like such an ass. I'd quickly convinced myself I had no idea who that kid with Paul was that night. And yeah, there were like a thousand kids in each grade at school, or whatever, but I did know him. Or know of him, really. I'd seen him––Rashad––in that uniform, and it'd made me think of my dad wearing his own at college. How my dad had looked proud in all those pictures.

Related Characters: Quinn Collins (speaker), Rashad Butler , Paul Galluzzo , Quinn’s Father
Related Symbols: Uniforms
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
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14. Thursday: Rashad Quotes

Pictures of me throwing up the peace sign, some––the ones Spoony feared––of me flipping off the camera. Carlos and the fellas had been cropped out. These images would have nasty comments under them from people saying stuff like, Looks like he'd rob a store, and If he'd pull his pants up, maybe he would've gotten away with the crime! Lol, and Is that a gang sign? Other pictures were of me in my ROTC uniform. Of course, those had loads of comments like, Does this look like a thug? and If he were white with this uniform on, would you still question him?

Related Characters: Rashad Butler (speaker), Spoony Butler, Carlos Greene
Related Symbols: Uniforms
Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:
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Uniforms Symbol Timeline in All American Boys

The timeline below shows where the symbol Uniforms 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
On Friday afternoon, Rashad finishes ROTC practice and eagerly changes out of his uniform, excited to party. Rashad is not particularly enthusiastic about ROTC, and explains that his father,... (full context)
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Out of his uniform and back in his normal clothes, Rashad feels “ready for whatever Friday had in store... (full context)
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
...goes to text Spoony before realizing that he left his cell phone inside his ROTC uniform. He squats down to retrieve it, and just at that moment Katie trips backward over... (full context)
5. Sunday: 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
A photo of Rashad in his ROTC uniform appears on the news, and Spoony explains that he supplied the photo in order to... (full context)
14. Thursday: Rashad
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Heroes vs. Villains Theme Icon
...hundreds of pictures of himself, some in his normal clothes and some in his ROTC uniform. In the comments, people debate whether or not he looks like someone who would rob... (full context)
15. Friday: Quinn
Racism, Stereotyping, and Police Brutality Theme Icon
American Culture, Values, and Patriotism Theme Icon
Maturity, Discipline, and Responsibility Theme Icon
...to see an “enormous black vehicle” that resembles a tank, along with police in paramilitary uniforms. He is so frightened that he begins to shake. Other students shout: “This is what... (full context)