Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce

by

Nic Stone

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Justyce Character Analysis

Justyce is an African American boy a year older than Quan and the recipient of most of Quan’s letters in the novel. The boys were childhood playmates and had several advanced classes together, but while Quan stopped focusing on academics, Justyce took the opposite route. Justyce eventually attended a fancy prep school for high school, and he attends Yale as a prelaw student in the novel’s present. He and Quan first met when they were 9 and 10 years old, when both ran away from home to escape abusive father figures. Due to their similar upbringings, Quan often wonders how he and Justyce ended up so different. Quan decides to begin writing to Justyce after Justyce visits and leaves Quan a journal. In the journal—the basis for Dear Justyce’s predecessor, Dear Martin—Justyce wrote letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about racism, implicit bias, and his experience of growing up Black in the United States. The journal helps Quan see that he and Justyce weren’t so different—as a kid, Justyce just had more support and more mentors than Quan did. Readers don’t meet Justyce in person until midway through the novel, when Justyce is on his way back to Georgia after his first year at Yale. After reading Quan’s secret confession that he didn’t shoot Officer Castillo, Justyce knows he can’t allow Quan to stay in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Justyce is committed to making sure that young Black men like Quan receive actual justice, so in addition to remaining Quan’s best friend, Justyce takes on the role of Quan’s legal advocate. He assembles a team of legal professionals and other support people, like Doc and Quan’s social worker Liberty, to work together to prove Quan’s innocence. Though he stumbles at times, he manages to preserve Quan’s trust as he does this. Ultimately, Justyce is successful, and he even bravely negotiates Quan’s exit from the Black Jihad gang.

Justyce Quotes in Dear Justyce

The Dear Justyce quotes below are all either spoken by Justyce or refer to Justyce. 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:
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Crown Books edition of Dear Justyce published in 2020.
January 12 Quotes

The minute that van drove away with him in it, I felt...doomed.

It’s why I stopped talking to you. Everybody else too, but especially you. I woulda never admitted this (honestly don’t know why I’m admitting it now...) but I kinda looked up to you. Yeah, you were only a year older and you were dorky as hell, but you had your shit together in a way I wanted mine to be.

I knew if I could just be like you, my dad would be proud of me.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Daddy, Ms. Mays
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
February 8 Quotes

Dude had all these obstacles he couldn’t seem to get past no matter how hard he tried, and it was almost as though falling into the life of crime everybody expected from him was (sorta) unavoidable? I know it probably sounds crazy to an upstanding young gentleman such as yourself, but for real: based on the systems in place—the “institutions of oppression,” as my former mentor, Martel, would say—homie’s situation and how he ended up kinda seemed like destiny.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Martel
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
April 4 Quotes

The reason I joined the Black Jihad: I needed backup. Support without judgment. People who hadn’t—and wouldn’t—give up on me.

I needed a family.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Martel, Mama, Daddy
Page Number: 93-94
Explanation and Analysis:
April 24; Snapshot: A Postscript (Present Day) Quotes

I guess I didn’t realize just how big of a difference it could make to have somebody really believe in you. I been thinking a lot about Trey and Mar and Brad and them. We were all looking for the same things, man—support, protection, family, that type of shit. And we found SOME of it in one another, but we couldn’t really give each other no type of encouragement to do nothing GOOD because nobody was really giving US any. Matter fact, we typically got the opposite. People telling us how “bad” we were. Constantly looking at us like they expected only the worst.

How the hell’s a person supposed to give something they ain’t never had?

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Martel, Trey, Brad, DeMarcus
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9: Dawg Quotes

He kept pushin’. Come on, kid. We know you did it. Might as well just say so...shit like that.

When he said You know if we get one of your little buddies in here, we can get ‘em talkin’. You should just save ‘em the trouble, that’s when I broke. Just said

Fine, man. I did it. You happy now?

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Officer Tommy Castillo
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
June 1 Quotes

She came in and we talked for a while and she asked me a bunch of questions the other dude never asked. And I’m pretty sure she actually believes everything I told her. Which was even a little bit uncomfortable despite the fact that I was telling the truth.

I just didn’t realize what a difference it would make to be in conversation with someone who genuinely wants to keep me OUT of prison altogether. Shit made me realize that in all my years dealing with the system, I ain’t never had an attorney who wanted to see me totally free.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Attorney Adrienne Friedman
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

But he was telling me how growing up, he was this real good kid, until some stuff happened to his family.

So he went looking for a new family. Like a lot of us do. Same story with another dude we call Stacks. He’s constantly talking about “this guy” he knows (aka himself) and how “he was workin’ to become a musician,” but “he was young and ain’t have no guidance”; how “he just wanted a family so he went and found one,” but then “he got in trouble doing family shit.”

And that’s what it comes down to. We find the families we were desperate for and learn different ways of going about things. Ways that sometimes land us in places/positions we don’t really wanna be in.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:
June 14 Quotes

This is a real-ass Catch-22. I read that shit a couple weeks ago. (HELLA trippy book.) The only way to stay OUT of what I really have no choice but to go back to is to stay IN here. But the longer I’m IN here, the more debt I’ll rack up for when I do get OUT.

Kind of a no-win, ain’t it?

Story of my damn life.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce, Martel, Trey
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:
Snapshot: Two Young Men on a New (To Them) Playground Quotes

The two BIG boys—if you can even call them that—chillin’ at the top of the climbing wall are wildly oblivious to the glares aimed at them from the actual children below.

Related Characters: Justyce (speaker), Quan Banks
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:

“You miss [the rocket ship]?”

At first, Quan doesn’t respond. Because he really has to think about it. His eyes roam the always-clean park space. Touch on his mom [...] his sister [...] his brother [...] his best friend right beside him.

Only thing missing is his dad. But they write to each other weekly, and Quan’s been out to visit the old man a few times, so even that’s okay.

[...]

He smiles. “You know what, man? I don’t.”

“You don’t?”

“Nah,” Quan says. “No need to go to outer space.”

[...]

“Everything I need is right here.”

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Justyce (speaker), Mama, Daddy, Dasia, Gabe
Related Symbols: The Rocket Ship
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Dear Justyce LitChart as a printable PDF.
Dear Justyce PDF

Justyce Character Timeline in Dear Justyce

The timeline below shows where the character Justyce appears in Dear Justyce. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Snapshot: Two Boys on a Brand-New Playground (2010)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...yelled at for it, so this makes him pause. The boy, who introduces himself as Justyce, says he didn’t expect anyone else to be here. (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan recognizes the name—Justyce is “that smart kid” who just won a contest. Justyce asks if Quan is going... (full context)
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Justyce says that Quan’s homelife sounds familiar, explaining that his dad was in the military and... (full context)
January 12
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
In a letter to Justyce, Quan writes that it’s weird to write an actual letter, especially to Justyce. When Quan... (full context)
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Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
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Quan writes that his Daddy was arrested a few years after he and Justyce met in the rocket ship. Daddy got 25 years in prison. Reflecting on the terrifying... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Unfortunate Events books. Daddy is why Quan ended up in the Challenge Math class with Justyce—but then Daddy was gone and things turned upside down. This is why Quan stopped talking... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
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But seeing what Justyce wrote about being set off, Quan wonders if Daddy’s attempts were pointless. At this point,... (full context)
February 8
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Quan thanks Justyce for sending the stack of graphic novels featuring Black superheroes. He also thanks Justyce for... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...He intended to sell it to buy his siblings shoes. Quan has been thinking about Justyce’s mentions of beating up white boys in his Martin journal. He wonders if those incidents... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
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...guy meant to do it. Then, Doc asked if Quan is a killer. Quan tells Justyce he couldn’t answer. He wanted to say no, but he also wondered if it’s inevitable... (full context)
April 4
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
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...earlier, he mentioned that today’s the anniversary of MLK’s assassination, which made Quan think of Justyce. In Justyce’s last letter, he’d asked why Quan joined Black Jihad. Quan had been annoyed,... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
...Daddy since he went to prison. There was nobody to support Quan, which is why Justyce’s question went over so poorly. Quan knows things weren’t great with Justyce’s dad, but Justyce’s... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
But Quan realizes there’s a huge difference between the letters Justyce wrote when he gave up and when he got to Yale. Justyce visited Quan at... (full context)
Snapshot: A Boy Alone on a Run-Down Playground (2017)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...He remembers when he used to actually play here and the time he first met Justyce, and he wonders if Justyce would be sad that the rocket ship is gone. He... (full context)
April 24; Snapshot: A Postscript (Present Day)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan scolds Justyce for asking so many questions in his last letter. But Quan has answers, since both... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...writing a lot about the sparks. Most of the sparks are linked to the night Justyce asked about, though some are older. The more Quan thinks and talks about it, the... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
This brings Quan to Justyce’s question of what happened the night Officer Castillo died. Honestly, Quan doesn’t remember. He has... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...Quan was a killer. Back then, he couldn’t really answer. Now, he can. He wants Justyce—and no one else—to know that Quan isn’t a killer. He never fired that night and... (full context)
Snapshot: Two Boys and a Girl in a Car (Present Day)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
On the drive from New York to Georgia, Justyce McAllister has a lot to think about. He thinks about finals and his racist roommate,... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
From the backseat, Jared groans and asks if they’re there yet. Justyce’s girlfriend, Sarah-Jane, nicknamed SJ, snappily asks why “it” is talking and scolds Justyce for deciding... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
...an Black person would be in jail or dead if they’d been in Jared’s situation. Justyce and Jared are silent. What SJ doesn’t know is that Jared knows and has cried... (full context)
Chapter 8: Deal
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...He’s not in a great mood. It’s been three weeks since he confessed something to Justyce that he hasn’t told anyone else. He’s been tempted lately, especially yesterday when Tay explained... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan didn’t mean to confess to Justyce; it just happened. He felt lighter at first, but three weeks on, he feels anxious... (full context)
May 18
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Quan writes to Justyce that he has lots of conflicting emotions right now. He’s excited to get his diploma... (full context)
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Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...in a decade if he’s good, which is more than he ever expected. Quan asks Justyce for advice. He’s sending this letter with Doc, since he knows Justyce is home from... (full context)
Snapshot: Two Boys, a Girl, a Teacher, a Lawyer, and a Case Management Intern in a Basement
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Justyce almost feels like he’s studying for a debate tournament—but this time, a “young (almost) man’s... (full context)
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Justyce brings up the fact that Quan’s gun didn’t fire the fatal shots. Jared is confused... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...only person who could’ve disputed the testimony. No one else has thought of this. To Justyce, this seems like a done deal—but SJ, Doc, and Attorney Friedman point out that Quan... (full context)
Chapter 9: Dawg
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...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.... (full context)
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Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
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Justyce says that no one would be implicated. There’s enough evidence to get Quan acquitted. This... (full context)
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Quan wipes his eyes and looks up at Justyce, who wears a “thinky” face. Justyce confirms that Quan told the cops each time that... (full context)
June 1
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Quan writes that he fired John Mark, which Justyce probably already knows. Adrienne is his lawyer now, though he feels weird calling her by... (full context)
Snapshot: A Prelaw Yale Undergrad, a Defense Lawyer, and a District Attorney in a Law Office
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Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Justyce is in awe of Attorney Marcus Anthony Baldwin Sr., even though he’s technically here to... (full context)
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Justyce cuts Attorney Baldwin off and immediately regrets it. But he presses on and says that... (full context)
June 14
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Quan writes to Justyce that he’s not in a god place. He found out something about his sister when... (full context)
Snapshot: A Black Boy (and a White Boy) Visits a Black Man (and a White Boy)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...he’d need to be familiar with the kind of people he’ll serve eventually. But when Justyce catches sight of Trey, he remembers Jared’s ill-fated Halloween experiment two years ago. Trey greets... (full context)
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Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Justyce tries not to think about the crazy thing he’s about to ask Martel. He’s read... (full context)
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Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
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Justyce says he’s been encouraging Quan. One of Justyce’s teachers took over facilitating Quan’s education, and... (full context)
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Justyce notes that Quan would probably be livid if he knew Justyce were here, but Justyce... (full context)
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Justyce stares at the poster of Huey Newton as Martel asks what he gets out of... (full context)
Chapter 11: Debt
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
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...of money, he must also be in debt to Tay, Attorney Friedman, Liberty, Doc, and Justyce. The ledger makes Quan ask his least favorite questions: why anyone is helping him, why... (full context)
Snapshot: Two Boys, an Attorney, a Teacher, and a Disgruntled Guard in a Conference Room
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Quan almost trips when he sees Justyce in the conference room, dressed in a suit. He’s clearly trying hard to look like... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Quan notices that everyone else (aside from Justyce in his suit) is wearing normal clothes. He’d give anything to be in normal T-shirts... (full context)
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When it’s over, Justyce is grinning. He starts to say that he knew it, but Quan is angry and... (full context)
July 23
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Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Justyce writes that Quan can’t tell anyone, but documents from the state labs just arrived at... (full context)
August 27
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Quan writes that he feels weird writing to Justyce already, two days after Justyce left, but he’s struggling. Liberty is headed back to school... (full context)
Chapter 12: Done
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Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Snapshot: Two Young Men on a New (To Them) Playground
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...the climbing wall, oblivious to the real children who want to climb it. Quan tells Justyce that they look creepy, but Justyce insists this is the best spot from which to... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan knows he shouldn’t ask, but he asks if Justyce has seen him recently. Justyce nods. He was at Martel’s the other day to help... (full context)
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Quan asks if the guys in Black Jihad are doing well, and Justyce says they are. Trey is going to be a dad soon, and he’s over the... (full context)
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Justyce changes the subject and asks how Quan is doing. Quan smiles. It’s nice to have... (full context)
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Quan asks how Justyce and SJ are doing. They’re doing well. Quan admits he’d love to find someone like... (full context)
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...really young men now, fall silent. The kids below snottily ask them to move, so Justyce and Quan jump down. Watching Gabe climb, Quan marvels that Gabe is 11—two years older... (full context)