Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce

by

Nic Stone

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Summary
Analysis
Quan is flipping through a volume of poetry that Doc gave him when a guard barks his name. It startles Quan so much he falls off his bed. The guard informs Quan that he has a visitor. As Quan follows, he worries that it’s his lawyer and that Mark will want a decision on the plea deal. It’s only been about 48 hours since Quan sent his last letter to Justyce with Doc, and Quan really wants to hear from Justyce before he makes a choice. Confusingly, the guard leads Quan past the classroom and past the lawyer rooms. In a visitation, room, Quan’s head feels ready to explode. It’s Justyce.
Again, it’s clear that Quan is starting to lean more heavily on his new support network as he hopes his visitor isn’t Mark. In his mind, it’s essential that Justyce show up in some way to help him make sense of what’s going on—and fortunately, Justyce does just that. For Justyce, showing up to visit is a way to make it clear to Quan that he’s taking Quan seriously and wants to help. Whatever he’s here to discuss is important enough to warrant an in-person visit, not just a letter.
Themes
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
The boys hug despite the guard’s scolding. Quan feels like he’s on top of the world, but Justyce acts weird. He looks around and does a terrible job of acting normal—and then he says that Quan has to fire his lawyer. Quan tells Justyce he has to explain himself. Justyce says he’s gotten Quan’s letters—and he understands why Quan doesn’t want to say more “About the thing,” but he finds what Quan is thinking about doing troubling. Justyce wants to help. He and some friends got Quan a new lawyer who has experience with cases like Quan’s, in which a young Black guy ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up incarcerated. Quan finds this description borderline offensive and says he can’t let the cops go after his crew.
Justyce’s inability to act normal seems to read as dangerous to Quan. If the guards think that the boys are up to something nefarious, Quan will have to suffer the consequences—and that might mean losing access to his support network. But when he speaks, Justyce does show restraint and compassion. In addition, though, his privilege also shines through. His description of Quan’s case contains no nuance, which is why Quan takes offense. It wasn’t just that Quan was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had to be there and had to take the charge to protect people he loves.
Themes
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Justyce says that no one would be implicated. There’s enough evidence to get Quan acquitted. This seems like it should be a no-brainer, but Quan is worried walking away from the deal will put him at risk of being convicted of murder if Justyce ends up being wrong. When Justyce looks over his shoulder again, Quan tells him to stop or they’ll get in trouble. Justyce says he’s just nervous because he needs to ask about Quan’s confession and how it happened. Quan is tense and sweaty. He says that the cops came a few days after the incident with a warrant. He steels himself and then begins to tell the story of how he ruined his life.
It now becomes apparent why Justyce is acting so weird: he knows that he’s going to have to ask Quan something very uncomfortable, and he feels bad about putting Quan inn this position. But in this moment, both boys resolve to trust each other. Justyce knows that learning the truth will be essential to proving Quan’s innocence, while Quan feels comfortable trusting Justyce with a story that seems to trigger his anxiety and panic.
Themes
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
The first time they questioned Quan, he exercised his right to remain silent. They left Quan alone for a long time. It was late, since they’d arrested him after 10 p.m., and Quan was exhausted and hungry. Eventually, someone took Quan to a cell. He tried to sleep, but every time he began to doze off, a noise would wake him up. Finally, a female officer brought him back to the interrogation room, where Quan again said he wanted to stay silent. He hung out alone and then went back to the holding cell. The same thing happened where he couldn’t sleep. Quan felt himself cracking. The third time they took him to the interrogation room, Quan said he wouldn’t talk. The cop badgered Quan and said they’d get someone else to talk if Quan wouldn’t. At this, Quan said he did it.
Quan went into these interrogations believing that the justice system would at least get one thing right and respect his right to remain silent. But it soon becomes clear that the police wanted a confession—and were willing to do all sorts of cruel things to get one, like preventing Quan from sleeping. It’s also telling that Quan finally confessed when the police threatened to find someone else who would confess. They no doubt knew that in Quan’s exhausted and hungry state, he’d be more likely to do whatever he felt he needed to do to protect his gang members and make the abuse stop.
Themes
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Dear Justyce PDF
Quan wipes his eyes and looks up at Justyce, who wears a “thinky” face. Justyce confirms that Quan told the cops each time that he was choosing to remain silent, and then Quan knows he won’t push any further. (Quan knows he’ll have to talk about this with Tay now, though.) Justyce tells Quan to ditch his lawyer and assures him he won’t lose the plea offer—he might even get a better one, since it seems like Quan was overcharged. The guard barks that visiting time is up. The boys stand and Quan thinks hard. He asks if Justyce is sure, and understanding passes between them.
It’s a mark of the boys’ friendship that Quan is able to tell that Justyce won’t push further. Both boys got what they needed out of this conversation—Justyce now knows that the cops acted illegally, and Quan knows that Justyce will respect his boundaries. With the truth of Quan’s confession out in the open with one person, Quan has more hope that communicating openly will help him. He doesn’t have to keep everything to himself, even if it might feel safer to do so.
Themes
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon