American Street

American Street

by

Ibi Zoboi

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American Street: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Hours later, Fabiola and Imani are the only customers in the café when Kasim and his coworkers begin to close up. As Imani teaches Fabiola how to cite sources for a paper, the girls hear thumping music coming from outside. Imani begins to dance as Kasim walks outside to Dray’s car, and Kasim waves the girls outside so he can finish cleaning. Dray gets out and starts wiping down the rims on his tires. In a whisper, Imani tells Fabiola how expensive the rims are—and Dray sees that Imani is impressed. He invites her to come take a picture. Fabiola can tell that Imani doesn’t want to, but Imani slowly approaches him anyway. Dray pulls her down into his lap next to one of the rims and takes their picture. Imani rushes back to Fabiola as soon as Dray lets her go.
Dray again shows that he’s confident in his ability to control people. He must realize that Imani doesn’t want to go to him, so the fact that she approaches anyway probably makes him feel even more powerful. This situates Dray as a person who’s making the violence in Detroit even worse. He traumatizes others on purpose, and he enjoys making them afraid so that he can feel powerful. Seeing him at work probably gives Fabiola yet another reason to work with the detective and put Dray behind bars.
Themes
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Kasim comes out of the café, kisses Fabiola, and says that Dray is going to drive them home. Imani shakes her head, but she tells Dray her name when he asks for it. Fabiola insists that they’ll take the bus, but Imani shoots Fabiola a look of surrender. She even gets in the front seat when Dray asks—and Fabiola can’t muster the courage to ask to change seats. Fabiola watches Imani shrink away from Dray as he reaches for her lap. She only notices they’re at Matant Jo’s house when she hears her cousins shouting for a “bitch” to get out of the car. Donna reaches in to rip Imani out and accuses her of trying to steal Dray. She then yells at Dray for posting pictures on Instagram of himself with Imani. Fabiola tries to stop Donna, but Pri pulls her back.
Fabiola has witnessed Dray’s abuse firsthand, multiple times, so Kasim’s acceptance of his friend likely seems even more problematic to her. His loyalty to Dray means that he’s willing to excuse Dray’s inappropriate behavior, no matter how bad it gets. And while it’s not clear whether Dray put the photo online specifically to provoke Donna, it nevertheless gives him another way to terrorize her. Now, he can make her feel insecure about their relationship—especially since Donna blames Imani, not Dray.
Themes
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola tries to defend Imani to Donna, which makes Dray tell Kasim to control his girlfriend. Chantal gently asks Imani where she lives. In a rush, Imani gives Chantal her address and asks her to tell Pri and Donna to not beat her up. Pri rushes away, muttering that Donna will come home with a black eye later as Dray shoves Donna against the car by her neck. Everyone tries to get between the couple as Pri shouts at Dray. Fabiola feels her rage melting away as she realizes that Dray reminds her of the lwa Baron Samedi, the guardian of the cemetery. She hates Dray and everything he does, and she vows to take him down. When Fabiola gets back in the house, she locks herself in the bathroom and texts Detective Stevens.
Because Fabiola saw exactly what happened and knew that Imani wasn’t trying to provoke Dray or Donna, she feels that it’s her responsibility to stand up for Imani. In her mind, this is an expression of loyalty and of her desire to do the right thing. Imani’s fear of getting beaten up speaks to the Three Bees’ reputation at school. Like Dray, Fabiola’s cousins contribute to the traumatic experience of living in Detroit. And again, when Fabiola realizes that Dray is the Vodou spirit Baron Samedi, she’s better able to make sense of his role in her and her loved ones’ lives.
Themes
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
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