American Street

American Street

by

Ibi Zoboi

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American Street: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Ms. Unique drops Fabiola and Donna off at the house, Donna shouts that she won. Matant Jo is with her male friends again and is unimpressed, but Chantal and Pri are shocked. Fabiola allows Donna to dress her in tight clothes and follows her to Dray’s car when they hear it pull up. Kasim looks confused when he sees Fabiola, but she leads him into the backseat. At the party, Kasim asks what’s up with Fabiola’s new hair. He says that he doesn’t like it, and Fabiola feels bad, but she reminders herself that she’s not here to impress him. After dancing for a song, Kasim leads Fabiola over to Dray—and when Donna isn’t looking, Dray smiles and winks at Fabiola. Fabiola feels bad for hurting Kasim, but she thinks that she’s fighting a war and can’t focus on love now.
Kasim looks almost too innocent here when he implies that he didn’t fall in love with Fabiola’s appearance; he fell in love with who she is. After her makeover, Fabiola seems like a different person. But as sad as Kasim’s disapproval makes Fabiola, it’s worth it if she can leverage her new appearance to help Donna. Dray’s wink at Fabiola suggests that, now that Fabiola looks more like Donna, she’s more interesting to him. This could empower Fabiola to trick Dray into giving her information that she can pass onto Detective Stevens.
Themes
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Just then, fat man from Q’s appears and whispers something in Dray’s ear. Dray’s demeanor changes. He hands Donna his keys and phone and excuses himself. Donna drags Fabiola to the bathroom and says that if Kasim ever gives Fabiola his phone, she’ll know it’s “legit.” While Donna is peeing, Fabiola secretly scrolls through Dray’s phone until she finds a text talking about taking “shit” to “the spot on Anderson” tomorrow. She puts the phone down before Donna comes out of the stall, and then she asks Donna if she thinks Dray is cheating on her. With a sigh, Donna says that he isn’t. Fabiola then goes into a stall and texts Detective Stevens about what she found.
Previously, Donna confirmed outright that Dray sleeps with other girls—but here, she denies that he’s cheating on her. This may be the mental gymnastics she has to do in order to live with her situation, as she tries to protect herself from even more trauma at Dray’s hands. This is also more proof that Dray is disrespectful and cruel to Donna; he doesn’t treat her with the dignity and respect that she deserves.
Themes
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Kasim is outside the bathroom when the girls come out. He leads them to Dray’s private booth and whispers to Fabiola that they can leave after a toast. Dray pours champagne, and then he stares hard at Fabiola and calls her over. He gives her a glass, but Fabiola doesn’t drink it. Instead, she watches Dray watch her. After a minute, Kasim leads Fabiola out to Dray’s car. He drives toward downtown and pulls into a parking lot where Fabiola can see the river. Fabiola smiles because she knows that Ezili lives in rivers. Kasim’s phone rings as they reach the river: it’s Dray, and he wants to talk to Fabiola. He’s upset that Fabiola left when he spent so much money to make her look beautiful. Fabiola hands the phone back to Kasim. She feels conflicted: Ezili makes her feel in love with Kasim, but Ezili-Danto makes her want to kill Dray to free Donna and Manman.
In Dray’s mind, Fabiola owes him her presence tonight since he’s gone to all the trouble to make her look like his idea of a beautiful girl. But because Fabiola knows that she’s playing a game and isn’t actually trying to ingratiate herself to Dray, she doesn’t feel bad about leaving his party with the hair and makeup he paid for. Indeed, leaving Dray’s party is a chance for her to spend time with Kasim and make sure he knows that she’s still herself, even if she did agree to Dray’s makeover. This contributes to Fabiola’s sense of loyalty to Kasim, which is disconcerting in its own right—as it might jeopardize Fabiola’s loyalty to Manman.  
Themes
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon