What comes next stands out in Quan’s mind. He’s been with Black Jihad for five months now. It’s a real organization, with meetings, rules, and business. Martel sells weapons. Like all new recruits, Quan starts out doing security. But as soon as it gets out that he’s a math whiz, he begins counting money and stuffing envelopes. Everyone likes Quan, especially when he suggests a tweak to the sales model that significantly increases profit.
The structure of Black Jihad may appeal to Quan, as it provides him security and predictability. Further, it’s no doubt an exciting thing for him when Martel recognizes Quan’s math abilities. This will be the first time since The Test when he was 12 that he’s had a reason to try at math—and all of this will increase Quan’s loyalty to the group.
One night, as usual, Dwight goes on a drunken rampage. Quan hides Dasia and Gabe and has to flash his pistol to keep Dwight off of him. When this has happened before, Quan has just gone for a walk or to hang with Brad and DeMarcus. But instead of going to Brad’s, Quan changes his mind. He takes a new turn and sees a couple kissing passionately in the street. He’s never seen a kiss so tender in real life. One member of the couple is Trey. Trey has a sixth sense and can tell when things are wrong, so he kisses his girlfriend goodbye and leads Quan to an abandoned house. Quan realizes Trey has been living here, which makes him emotional. When they get to the roof, Quan tells Trey everything.
When Quan remarks on the tenderness of the kiss he witnesses, it reveals that he doesn’t see much (or any) love, passion, or affection in his day-to-day life. So seeing that Trey has a girlfriend with whom he can be so tender and passionate may make Quan feel even more alone. This sense is certainly heightened after leaving Dwight’s rampage and essentially seeing what things at home could be like. All of this makes Quan feel vulnerable and in desperate need of connection, hence why he tells Trey about his struggles at home.
Four days later, the school office calls for Quan. He can’t figure out what he might’ve done wrong, but he’s certain he’s headed back to jail. When he sees Mama crying, he stumbles backward. She stands and throws her arms around him. Quan knows what she’s going to say, but it still feels like a bomb when she says that Dwight’s dead.
Though it’s no doubt a relief that Dwight is gone, Quan’s description of the news being like a bomb implies that Dwight’s death wasn’t an accident: it came about on purpose, probably because Quan told Trey what was going on, and the gang got involved.