American Street

American Street

by

Ibi Zoboi

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American Street: Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Fabiola says that when the earthquake hit, she was in the courtyard doing laundry. She’d just learned how to do it and was too small to do a good job, but she was getting better. As Fabiola stood up, she felt dizzy. Suddenly, she began to dip and sway, and the walls of her house split and fell. Everything began to fall around her. Fabiola stayed standing through it all. Now, Fabiola opens her eyes. She isn’t dead—Dray is. Fabiola is shaking. She turns around and sees Papa Legba standing in the doorway with his cane, which might actually be a gun. He sings a song about crossroads, bearing a cross, and hoping to survive. As he sings, he becomes translucent and disappears in his cigar smoke.
Dipping back into Fabiola’s past keeps the reader on edge about whether Fabiola actually died or not. When it’s revealed that she survived, it seems more like Fabiola is remembering the earthquake to remind herself of all the trauma she’s already endured. When Papa Legba saves Fabiola and then disappears, it confirms that he is indeed a lwa, not a mere mortal. Fabiola didn’t interpret his songs entirely correctly, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to allow her to die. The heartbreak of losing Kasim is enough of a punishment.
Themes
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola forces herself to run after him, but he’s not on the street corner. She wants to thank him, but all she can say is Kasim’s name. Chantal brings Fabiola back into the house. They stand with Pri and watch Donna cry over Dray’s body. Fabiola thinks that she never got to sob over Kasim’s body as Pri says that hey never got to sob over Phillip’s body. Finally, Chantal sends Fabiola upstairs for a sheet.
In a way, Dray’s death gives all four girls a sense of closure. Most of them didn’t get to cry over the bodies of the other men they’ve lost, but through Donna, they can take part in the ritual and find the strength to move on. Now, they can leave this traumatic episode behind.
Themes
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon