American Street

American Street

by

Ibi Zoboi

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on American Street can help.

American Street: Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Fabiola’s entire body hurts. She can’t follow anything that Pri and Donna say, but she does hear Ms. Stanley say that Matant Jo will have to come in next week when Fabiola’s suspension is over. Fabiola has never been suspended before, but she knows that Manman would beat her when she finds out about this. Terrified, she asks her cousins if Matant Jo will beat her. Donna allows that Matant Jo beat Pri once when they were little, but she doesn’t do that anymore. Fabiola asks if Matant Jo stopped just like Dray stopped being violent, but Donna ignores this. She announces that Kasim isn’t cheating on Fabiola, and that Fabiola won the fight. Even Chantal seems to approve, and she admits that she was once suspended for fighting too.
For Fabiola, being suspended for fighting isn’t a badge of honor, like her cousins seem to think. Instead, it represents her initiation into a world that Fabiola knows Manman wouldn’t approve of. This is why Fabiola is so concerned about Matant Jo: she figures that her aunt will also disapprove of fighting. But her cousins make the case that Matant Jo understands violence is a part of life here, so Fabiola won’t get in trouble for it. Indeed, Chantal normalizes violence by admitting that even she’s gotten in trouble for fighting.
Themes
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola asks if Tonesha and Raquel got hurt, but Pri insists they can’t say the girls’ names—they’ll refer to them now as “Ugly Bitch and Uglier Bitch.” When the cousins stop laughing, Chantal says that Matant Jo might make Fabiola do some chores. Chantal also says that she’ll talk to Ms. Stanley to make sure this doesn’t go on Fabiola’s record. Quietly, Fabiola says that she doesn’t want to go to this school anymore. She wants to use the money to help Manman and her cousins. Donna eyes Fabiola in her mirror, but no one says anything. Chantal asks if Donna is feeling well enough to go to a party next weekend. When Pri asks what Donna is going to take, Fabiola’s ears perk up.
Even if Fabiola has given in to fighting, she’s still the sensitive, caring person she was when she arrived. This is why she asks about Tonesha and Raquel—even if they’re her enemies, she still thinks they deserve to make it through this. But her cousins essentially propose that this is a dog-eat-dog world, and Fabiola can’t afford to care about people like them who want to hurt her. If Fabiola wants to be happy, she’ll have to fight for it—and she can’t worry about her victims.
Themes
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
They stop at an abandoned building, but Chantal stares at Fabiola. She tells Fabiola that she’s the Fourth Bee now, teaches her how to do a fist bump, and tells her to be quiet and listen. The cousins decide to steal Matant Jo’s pills and sell them, just to show Uncle Q they’re trying—but Chantal mentions that that they’ve made $20,000 in a night before. Fabiola can’t even fathom how much $20,000 is. They drive home in silence. Fabiola wishes that Manman hadn’t been detained, and that she didn’t know her cousins sold drugs. She knows she can’t give her cousins up to Detective Stevens. As Fabiola looks around, she gets an idea.
Now that Fabiola has fought like her cousins and become more American, Chantal is more open to allowing Fabiola into their group. Fabiola is no longer too Haitian for them to accept. However, this doesn’t mean that Fabiola totally understands her new environment. Her inability to conceptualize $20,000 is understandable, but it drives home how far removed she is from her cousins’ world of drug dealing.
Themes
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
When Matant Jo hears about the fight, she only asks if Fabiola won against the other girls. The next day, the first day of Fabiola’s suspension, she asks Chantal to drop her off at Kasim’s job. At the café, Kasim brings Fabiola a croissant and hot chocolate. He joins her on his break and touches Fabiola’s bruised face. Kasim assures Fabiola that Raquel is ugly and is just trying to get attention. Fabiola grabs Kasim’s hand and asks if this is real. She asks him to call her by her real name, not Fabulous. After Kasim kisses Fabiola, he tells her that Dray is going to drop something off after work—and then, Kasim has a surprise for Fabiola.
Fighting to defend her relationship with Kasim also strengthened Fabiola and Kasim’s bond. Violence, Fabiola is learning, is one way to prove her loyalty to the people she cares about. Even though Fabiola is stepping into a new identity as she becomes American, she still wants Kasim to see her for who she is: Fabiola, not Fabulous. By asking him to use her real name, Fabiola asserts that her identity is a mix of Haitian and American elements.
Themes
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Get the entire American Street LitChart as a printable PDF.
American Street PDF
Fabiola finds Dray’s car outside. She waits for Dray to notice her and then, she taps on his window. When Dray unlocks the doors, Fabiola slides into the passenger seat. She inhales the marijuana scent, remembering Manman’s advice: that they must let the lwas overtake them so that they can thwart people. Fabiola asks Dray for marijuana and tells him that Kasim doesn’t know she smokes. Dray laughs, but he pulls out a joint. Fabiola tells him that it’s his business what he does with Donna, but he has to leave Imani alone. Dray argues, but he gives in when Fabiola threatens to tell everyone that he’s cheating on Donna. As Fabiola takes a deep drag off of the joint, Dray whispers that she’s sexy.
Given that it seems like many people are aware that Dray is cheating on Donna, it’s odd that Dray backs down when threatened with exposure. It’s possible that he’s trying to impress Fabiola by agreeing, given that he finds her sexy. He may think that if he can make her believe he’s faithful, he’ll have a chance of being with her. Again, this illustrates how manipulative Dray is, and it drives home that he’s bad news for Fabiola and her cousins.
Themes
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola knows she doesn’t have much time, so she compliments Dray’s eye patch. She says he looks like an old boyfriend who used to help her. When Dray asks why Fabiola came to his and Uncle Q’s house the other day, Fabiola says that she needs money to help Manman. She can’t ask her aunt or cousins, since they want Manman to go back to Haiti. Dray insists that he can’t help, but he perks up when Fabiola says he reminds her of a friend who was in Zoe Pound, a major Haitian gang. The gang isn’t active in Detroit, so Fabiola’s friend needs to make connections here. She knows that Dray sells drugs and has heard girls talking about a party this weekend in Grosse Pointe Park. Fumbling, Fabiola says that she doesn’t know the American term for the type of drugs that the girls want.
Dray isn’t unintelligent; he suspects that Fabiola is up to something. Fortunately, Fabiola has a good cover story in Manman’s detainment, so her reasons for seeking him out seem legitimate. For Fabiola, pretending to buy into the idea that a person has to go the illicit route to make it in the United States is a way to draw Dray in and give him a reason to trust her. She also uses her status as an immigrant with an incomplete grasp of English to cover up the things she doesn’t know, such as what drugs Dray is supposed to sell. She’s learning to leverage her identity to get ahead.
Themes
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Dray laughs, but Fabiola leans over and kisses him. She says that she knows what it’s like to do everything in one’s power to scrape by. Then, Fabiola says that she knows Dray has the drive, so he should take this opportunity—all she wants in return is 20 percent, and if Dray wants, she can connect him to Zoe Pound. Just then, Kasim and his coworker come out of the café, and Fabiola slips out of Dray’s car when Kasim isn’t looking. She feels like she’s eaten Dray’s soul, and she whispers, “Shit you do for fam.” Dray rolls down a window to haggle over Fabiola’s cut as Kasim approaches. Kasim asks Dray to drive them to his car, and Fabiola feels like she’s in the underworld. At home, she calls Detective Stevens. Fabiola tells her that Dray will be at a party this weekend and will have drugs on him.
When Fabiola mentions feeling like she’s in the underworld, it shows that for her, this is an exercise in Vodou. This makes her feel more in control of the situation and as though she can manipulate it to serve her purposes. And so far, she looks poised to succeed, since Dray seems open to working with her. This shows how Fabiola can use her immigrant identity and her spirituality to get what she needs. Even if she can’t rely on the American Dream to deliver, she can make things happen for herself.
Themes
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon