American Street

American Street

by

Ibi Zoboi

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Dray is one of the novel’s antagonists; he’s Donna’s boyfriend. At 21, he’s about five years older than Donna. He’s loud, imposing, and dangerous, and he has a reputation for being controlling and getting whatever he wants. The eye patch he wears over his one missing eye contributes to his fearsome appearance. Along with his uncle, Uncle Q, Dray is a high-powered drug dealer who spends most of his drug money on his car, a fancy BMW, and on buying Donna expensive clothes, wigs, and makeup. The money he spends on Donna makes her happy, but he still abuses her physically and emotionally. They’ve been together off and on since Donna was 12, and everyone refers to them as Dungeons and Dragons—Dray is the dungeon, and he “tames” Donna, the dragon. The results of this “taming,” however, are constant bruises and bloody scratches on Donna’s face. Despite his abusive behavior, Dray insists that he truly loves Donna, and he has a close, brotherly relationship with his friend Kasim. Fabiola hates and fears Dray instantly—she sees him as a human iteration of Baron Samedi, the lwa (Vodou spirit) who guards cemeteries. She sees the opportunity to remove him from Donna’s life when Detective Stevens offers to expedite Manman’s immigration processing in exchange for information implicating Dray in the overdose death of a local girl. But when Fabiola discovers that her cousins, rather than Dray, are responsible for the girl’s death, she decides to frame Dray anyway—resulting not in Dray’s arrest, but in the police murdering Kasim. When Dray comes to Matant Jo’s house to kill Fabiola in retaliation, Bad Leg (Papa Legba) kills Dray. After his death, from the underworld, Dray shares that he’s the one who accidentally murdered Phillip, Donna’s father. He loves and hates Donna because Phillip’s ghost has been haunting him since then.

Dray Quotes in American Street

The American Street quotes below are all either spoken by Dray or refer to Dray. 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:
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Balzer + Bray edition of American Street published in 2017.
Chapter 9 Quotes

I look all around the restaurant. “But this is your job,” I say.

She inhales and looks around, too. “Yes, it is. But our work is not without the help of good American citizens like yourself. You are an American citizen, right?”

Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

“But I ain’t no kingpin, know what I’m saying? So it’s just favors here and there. Shit you do for fam.”

A cold chill travels up my spine. Shit you do for fam. The way he says it, it’s like he would do anything for his family, like for love and respect. I say it out loud. “Shit you do for fam.” I turn to him.

“Shit you do for fam,” he repeats.

Related Characters: Kasim (speaker), Fabiola Toussaint (speaker), Dray, Manman/Valerie Toussaint
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

“On American Street, I will live with my aunt Jo and my cousins, and go to school, and have a cute boyfriend, and keep my mouth shut because in Haiti I learned not to shake hands with the devil. But on Joy Road, I will tell the truth. The truth will lead to my happiness, and I will drive long and far without anything in my way, like the path to New Jersey, to my mother, to her freedom, to my joy. Which road should I take, Papa Legba?”

Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

Then I begin to see him for who he really is. Dray, with his sunglasses even as night spreads across the sky, and his gold cross gleaming, and his love/hate for my cousin, reminds me of the lwa Baron Samedi, guardian of the cemetery—keeper of death.

Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

This is a makeshift altar for Ezili with all the things she loves in the world. My whole body tingles when I realize what’s happening.

Again, Papa Legba has opened another door. How could I have missed this? Of course, I need Ezili’s help, too. And she’d been right under my nose, working through Donna with all her talk about hair, jewelry, clothes, and beauty.

Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

How is this the good life, when even the air in this place threatens to wrap its fingers around my throat? In Haiti, with all its problems, there was always a friend or a neighbor to share in the misery. And then, after our troubles were tallied up like those points at the basketball game, we would celebrate being alive.

But here, there isn’t even a slice of happiness big enough to fill up all these empty houses, and broken buildings, and wide roads that lead to nowhere and everywhere.

Page Number: 247
Explanation and Analysis:
Drayton’s Story Quotes

Even when I’m born again in Detroit, and I’m supposed to be free like the fucking wind, there’s still some shit trying to own my life—money and the bullshit jobs my moms had to work, these shitty streets, and this whole fucked-up system. When you remember all the ways you been killed, and how that shit hurt your fucking soul, ain’t no way in hell you can shake that off.

Related Characters: Dray (speaker)
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:

It’s war out here, son. If my pops and his pops before him been fighting all their lives to just fucking breathe, then what’s there for a little nigga to contemplate when somebody puts a gun in his hands?

Related Characters: Dray (speaker), Uncle Q
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 32 Quotes

We are all in white. Even Pri has shed her dark clothes and now wears a white turtleneck and pants. I had wrapped my cousins and aunt in white sheets after making a healing bath of herbs and Florida water for each one, and let them curl into themselves and cry and cry. This is what Manman had done for our neighbors who survived the big earthquake. The bath is like a baptism, and if black is the color of mourning, then white is the color of rebirth and new beginnings.

Page Number: 321
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire American Street LitChart as a printable PDF.
American Street PDF

Dray Character Timeline in American Street

The timeline below shows where the character Dray appears in American Street. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...dressed to go out. Chantal begs for Donna to not go out with someone named Dray if he’s going to race, but Donna says that Dray thinks she brings him bad... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Another man gets out of the car, calls the punching man Dray, and helps Bad Leg up. At the same time, Donna gets out of the car,... (full context)
Princess’s Story
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...and beautiful. Eventually, Chantal got a scholarship to a prep school, Donna got together with Dray, and Pri became “the brawn.” Now, they’re the Three Bees—and nobody messes with them. (full context)
Chapter 7
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...patch steps close to Pri and tries to hug her. Fabiola realizes that this is Dray, the guy who hit Bad Leg. His face makes Fabiola think he’s “been to the... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...word for “break me.” She calls him Broke and turns away; if he’s involved with Dray, she wants nothing to do with him. Fabiola is still wearing her coat because she’s... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...explains that everyone calls the couple D&D, like Dungeons and Dragons—Donna is the dragon, and Dray is taming her. Kasim says that he and Fabiola won’t have a relationship like that.... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...Kasim brings her coat to her and leads her outside. There, Pri is yelling at Dray while Donna crouches on the ground. Everyone stares as Pri shouts that Donna should’ve left... (full context)
Chapter 8
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...is tucked into bed, Fabiola and Pri play cards while Chantal reads. Fabiola asks if Dray hits Donna—after all, Bad Leg’s song was about an attack. But Pri explains that no... (full context)
Chapter 9
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...girl’s death. Fabiola insists she doesn’t know anything, but Detective Stevens says that they’re after Dray—he’s selling these drugs, but they don’t have proof. Fabiola points out that this is Detective... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...asks what this will cost. Detective Stevens assures her that she just needs information on Dray, like when he’s going to be at a party next. She gives Fabiola a business... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...out of the way and apologizes, explaining that not everyone can be a “baller” like Dray and Matant Jo. He calls Fabiola Fabulous and then calls Pri on his cell phone.... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...in New Jersey, and how Detective Stevens asked for something impossible. Kasim’s cellphone rings: it’s Dray. Fabiola wonders if it’s true about Dray’s dealing drugs. Hanging up with Dray, Kasim tells... (full context)
Chapter 10
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...a minute, he says that you don’t ask that of people around here—Donna didn’t ask Dray that when they met. Fabiola points out that Kasim isn’t Dray and says that she... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Kasim insists that Dray and Donna do their own thing. He also explains that Dray is like family to... (full context)
Chapter 11
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...loves her, she says, he’ll make Fabiola feel like a million dollars. Fabiola wonders if Dray loves Donna, or if she just feels loved because he spends so much money on... (full context)
Chapter 12
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...Fabiola looks out the window until they get off. Imani has seen Kasim before with Dray. She says that everyone knows Dray, but he makes her uncomfortable. He’s cute, but he... (full context)
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...Chantal, Pri, and Donna certainly won’t want to talk to Detective Stevens, since they know Dray— but Detective Stevens must know that Fabiola doesn’t care about Dray at all. The detective... (full context)
Chapter 13
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Primadonna’s Story
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Donna says that she and Dray have been together since she was 12. Even at times when they were broken up,... (full context)
Chapter 14
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
When the doorbell rings, Fabiola sees Dray’s car outside—Dray let Kasim borrow it. Fabiola doesn’t want to get in and looks for... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...He sighs and says that he got the tickets from his Uncle Q, who is Dray’s uncle. In a lot of ways, though, Uncle Q is everyone’s uncle—he owns the Q... (full context)
Chapter 15
Spirituality Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...“block,” so Fabiola heads for the block that Uncle Q owns. She’s certain she’ll find Dray and the underworld when she gets where she’s going. (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...walking. When Papa Legba doesn’t appear again, she figures it’s time to figure out where Dray is without his help. Finally, she reaches the Q club. When she pulls the door,... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Dray tells Fabiola to come inside with him. He hands the dogs to the fat man,... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
The door doesn’t latch behind Dray, so Fabiola runs through it and all the way home. On the steps of the... (full context)
Chapter 17
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...her hips. Just then, Donna appears and asks if Imani wants to have sex with Dray. Imani looks away as Donna says that she’s just trying to look out for Imani.... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Donna says that Imani needs to understand that she has no chance with Dray. A lot of girls wouldn’t hesitate to have sex with Dray, thinking that he’d buy... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...outside. Donna tells Fabiola to get out; they’re getting their hair and nails done for Dray’s birthday party tonight. Fabiola refuses, but Donna explains that Fabiola has to look the part... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...a trickster, like Papa Legba, and put on a costume that will help her hand Dray over to Detective Stevens. Outside the car, Donna greets a tall woman with a booming... (full context)
Chapter 18
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation 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... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience 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... (full context)
Chapter 19
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Dray is so angry that the house seems to shake. He’s downstairs, shouting for Donna—earlier, Donna... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
...and Matant Jo’s slippers converge around Donna to protect her, and Matant Jo shouts for Dray to get out. Dray goes back downstairs and shouts that he loves Donna. As Dray... (full context)
Chapter 20
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...forever. She thinks of her weight loss as the drought before the rain—the rain being Dray’s arrest by Detective Stevens. Imani, however, is concerned by Fabiola’s weight loss. She refuses to... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...him that he can’t change her name and asks if he’s Broke Carter and has Dray’s last name. Immediately, she knows she messed up—she shouldn’t know Dray’s last name. But Kasim... (full context)
Chapter 21
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...answer the door. Fabiola creeps to the top of the stairs to watch. It’s not Dray at the door; it’s a thin older man with two others who are both tall... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...the men are gone, Donna wonders how much Matant Jo has and suggests they ask Dray for help. At this point, he doesn’t even know that they deal drugs. Pri, however,... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...feels like she’s at a crossroads again as she reminds herself that her cousins, not Dray, are responsible for a girl’s death. Hours later, Fabiola can’t sleep. She gets out of... (full context)
Chapter 22
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...means she can’t scratch. This feels oppressive, especially since she allowed this makeover to get Dray—and Dray didn’t cause the girl’s death after all. Now, Fabiola is spending more time with... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...change. Fabiola refuses it, which offends Matant Jo. On their way out of the restaurant, Dray and Kasim arrive. Though Dray tries to talk to Donna, she ignores him while Pri,... (full context)
Chapter 23
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...day that Haiti became the first independent Black nation. As Kasim chats about food and Dray’s family’s thanksgiving feast, Fabiola thinks that nothing has changed since she learned her cousins sell... (full context)
Chapter 24
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...below them and waves. He makes his way up, and Fabiola realizes too late that Dray is with him. Kasim squeezes in next to Fabiola, but Dray tries to get Donna’s... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Donna, however, insists that she’s fine and turns back to Dray. Fabiola tries to stop Donna from leaving with him, but she doesn’t know what to... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...snaps awake when she hears a man yelling at Bad Leg to shut up. It’s Dray: he’s shoving Bad Leg while Donna stands by, crying. Fabiola races downstairs and steps outside,... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...for school. Donna doesn’t know the difference between love and abuse, while Pri fights everything. Dray and Uncle Q are in the middle of all of this. Fabiola feels her rage... (full context)
Chapter 25
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...to secrecy. Then, she pulls a tight, shiny dress from her book bag. It’s from Dray—he sent it to her house with flowers. Imani explains that it came before Dray’s stunt... (full context)
Chapter 26
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...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,... (full context)
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
...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. (full context)
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola finds Dray’s car outside. She waits for Dray to notice her and then, she taps on his... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience 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.... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Spirituality 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... (full context)
Chapter 27
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Identity and the Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...anyway. Fabiola fixates on this. Detective Stevens will find the evidence she needs to arrest Dray. (full context)
Kasim’s Story
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Kasim says that Dray used to call him a mama’s boy, because Kasim’s mom used to kiss Kasim when... (full context)
Chapter 29
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...handle. Fabiola wonders what he’s doing. The only thing that’s supposed to happen tonight is Dray selling drugs at the party, and Fabiola can’t shake this thought. (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
...to the corner and Bad Leg. He’s all dressed up and wearing sunglasses, just like Dray. Fabiola asks if everything went as planned, and Bad Leg sings her a song about... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...Pri wants to punch Fabiola but doesn’t. Quietly, Donna says that she’s going to call Dray—she doesn’t want him to get arrested. Chantal notes that Dray isn’t stupid and won’t go... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Donna accuses Fabiola of selling out Dray to get Manman. Fabiola feels awful; she betrayed Donna too. Chantal snaps that Fabiola can’t... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
...home with them. Chantal stops Fabiola from leaving the car and Donna tries to call Dray. Pri snaps that they can’t call Dray; he’ll find out that Fabiola set Kasim up... (full context)
Chapter 30
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...in the car. Fabiola wails, and Pri curses. When they reach the house, they see Dray sitting on the steps. Donna offers to go talk to him, but Chantal says he’s... (full context)
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola darts out of the car and approaches Dray. For once, he’s not wearing his eye patch; the eye underneath is gone. He demands... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Dray grabs Fabiola by the hair and arms and drags her out of the room. Pri,... (full context)
Spirituality Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Fabiola feels like Dray’s wall is falling down—but she remembers the earthquake and how, after the walls fell, it... (full context)
Chapter 31
Spirituality Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Drayton’s Story
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Dray says that there’s no way to know what it feels like to leave your body... (full context)
Dignity and the American Dream Theme Icon
Family and Loyalty Theme Icon
Trauma, Violence, and Desperation Theme Icon
Dray says that there’s war in Detroit. His family has been fighting to breathe for generations,... (full context)
Chapter 32
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
...She wonders if she was supposed to come to Detroit to save her cousins from Dray. But if this is true, she can’t figure out where Kasim fits in. One day,... (full context)