Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce

by

Nic Stone

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Dear Justyce can help.
Summary
Analysis
Quan has been having wild nightmares for the last five nights. Tonight, he’s dreaming of Justyce opening up Quan’s chest, frowning, and then telling Doc to shoot Quan. For the fifth night in a row, Quan’s eyes pop open, but he can’t move. He’s sweating and can’t breathe—but something’s different. He hears a voice say that it’s not sure what’s going on. Tay puts a hand on Quan’s arm and tells him the paralysis will pass, and she’ll be here. Another familiar female voice asks if things are okay as the guard grouses that the women are breaking protocol. The second woman asks if Quan can hear them. Tay says that Quan can probably hear them, but not see them. He’s starting to come down though.
Quan seems to be experiencing sleep paralysis, or nightmares that render him unable to move. This is probably due to the immense stress he’s under after losing a lot of his support network and to his case being in a state of limbo. But again, the novel shows that Quan doesn’t have to go through these frightening situations alone anymore. He has people like Tay and the second woman to hold his hand and help alleviate his feelings of stress and fear—and even break protocol to do so. With this, the novel underscores that Quan doesn’t have to hide his emotions anymore.
Themes
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Suddenly, Quan can breathe and he sees Tay and Attorney Friedman leaning over him. This is embarrassing, and he asks what day it is—he sees Tay on Thursdays and Attorney Friedman every other Monday. Tay says it’s Monday, but the guard tells the women they must leave the cell. Quan smiles, even though it’s weird to have them in here. He knows that something happened and it must be bad, given that his lawyer and his counselor are here. Once he’s dressed Quan finds them in the common area. They head for one of the meeting rooms.
Due to his anxiety and his upbringing, Quan still jumps to the worst-case scenario every time something unexpected happens. Part of this is a self-defense mechanism. If he hopes that Tay and Attorney Friedman are here to tell him something good, then it would be even more emotionally painful if they do indeed bring bad news. Quan’s reaction, then, shows that he’s going to be dealing with the effects of his upbringing for some time.
Themes
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan gulps and sweats, but Tay and Attorney Friedman smile at each other. They have news: they heard back on the motion. The court ruled to suppress the confession, but there’s more. The trial is never going to happen; the DA is dropping all charges. Quan can barely breathe as Attorney Friedman says that with no weapon, confession, or witnesses, there’s no case. Quan will be free. Quan turns to Tay and asks if she’s really saying that. He asks if he’s done, and she agrees.
The outcome, of course, shows that Quan didn’t need to be so worried about what Tay and Attorney Friedman were going to say—it truly was just a defense mechanism. The women’s glee at getting to tell Quan that he’s free makes it clear to Quan that they didn’t help him out just because they had to. Rather, they invested in him because they care and they genuinely want to see him succeed.
Themes
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon