Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce

by

Nic Stone

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Dear Justyce can help.

Mama Character Analysis

Mama is Quan’s mother, as well as the mother of Quan’s step-siblings Dasia and Gabe. She had Quan with Daddy but had Dasia and Gabe with her abusive live-in boyfriend, Dwight. Quan reveals little about Mama’s personality. It’s possible that some of this has to do with how deeply betrayed Quan feels by Mama. Dwight is physically and financially abusive, and Quan doesn’t understand why Mama doesn’t just leave him. As Quan sees it, it’d be better for all of them without Dwight in the picture—when Dwight is around, Mama can’t work because she’s constantly injured from his beatings and ashamed to show her bruises. And because Mama can’t work, she relies on Dwight financially. It’s unclear how or even if Mama tries to protect her children from Dwight’s abuse. To add to Quan’s sense of betrayal, Mama believes a teacher’s false accusation that Quan cheated on an important math test and starts to ignore Quan after he’s arrested the first time. Though the novel implies that Mama might be doing this out of self-preservation (she implies that the men in her life, like Dwight and Daddy, have consistently let her down, and she may be lumping Quan in with them), Mama’s neglect nevertheless pushes Quan right into Black Jihad. She remains distant and cold with Quan even after Dwight is murdered. With no one at home to support or believe in him, Quan has to look for family elsewhere. He and Mama begin to repair their relationship in the month before Quan is released from prison. Mama moves the family to the suburbs (one of Martel’s requirements for Quan’s exit from Black Jihad), and by the end of the novel, seems to fit in and be happy in her new life.

Mama Quotes in Dear Justyce

The Dear Justyce quotes below are all either spoken by Mama or refer to Mama. 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.
Chapter 2: Downhill Quotes

Even at twelve, it didn’t escape Quan’s notice that the men in his mama’s life—Daddy included—used money to get her to do what they wanted her to do. It bothered him no end. But he wasn’t sure what he could do about it.

Which became a running theme: not knowing what he could do about anything.

So he stayed focused.

Related Characters: Quan Banks (speaker), Mama, Daddy, Dwight
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

“And best believe your father is gonna hear about this. Might even send him the evidence of your indiscretion.” Quan could hear the paper crinkle as she surely held it up in the air. “Cheating. I can’t even believe you—”

And that was all he heard. Because in that moment everything crystallized for Vernell LaQuan Banks Jr.

It didn’t matter what he did.

Staying focused didn’t give Quan any control at all.

Related Characters: Mama (speaker), Quan Banks, Daddy, Ms. Mays
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3: Disrespect Quotes

So he told Mama—who for the first time wasn’t healing from a COAN encounter—that he was going out.

And he headed to his former favorite playground place.

Stepping over the latest evidence of unsavory activity inside his rocket ship (at least there wouldn’t be any babies or diseases?), Quan climbed up to the observation deck. Largely to hide himself from anyone who might take issue with/make fun of an almost-thirteen-year-old hanging out in the grounded space vessel.

But once he got up there, Quan relaxed so much, he fell asleep.

Related Characters: Quan Banks, Dwight, Mama
Related Symbols: The Rocket Ship
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5: Delinquent Quotes

Trey couldn’t have known it (or maybe he could’ve?), but in that moment, Quan didn’t actually want to be alone.

He needed a friend.

Someone who cared.

Because from the moment Mama and Quan had stepped out of the fluorescent-lit law-and-order lair into the crisp Georgia evening, it was crystal clear to Quan that she no longer did.

Related Characters: Quan Banks, Trey, Mama
Related Symbols: The Rocket Ship
Page Number: 73
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:
Chapter 10: Dasia Quotes

“Gabe misses you,” his mama says, and she might as well have dropped a bucket of ice water on his head.

He’d get up and walk away if not for the fact that it’s his mama.

And beneath all his fury,
he still wants her to love him.

Related Characters: Mama (speaker), Quan Banks, Gabe
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:
Snapshot: Two Young Men on a New (To Them) Playground Quotes

“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

Mama Character Timeline in Dear Justyce

The timeline below shows where the character Mama 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
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...tow. He doesn’t think anyone’s following him, but he takes a circuitous route in case Mama’s boyfriend, Dwight, noticed Quan leave. Quan couldn’t stay to watch Dwight leave bruises on Mama.... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...as he explains that Dwight is an “asshole,” even if he is the father of Mama’s other kids. Quan hates Dwight for taking out his anger on Mama. (full context)
Chapter 1: Doomed
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...screamed and kicked, wanting to believe that it was just a dream. He hoped that Mama would hear him and show up with Dwight, who could take Daddy’s place in the... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...while Daddy made “emergency runs,” and she was one of Daddy’s clients too. Quan remembered Mama saying that all the white people in the suburbs would call the cops on Daddy... (full context)
Chapter 2: Downhill
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...The only reason he hadn’t already moved in is because Daddy said he wouldn’t give Mama money if Dwight was around Quan. But now, money is tight—so Dwight offers to help... (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
...and throws it away. Even at age 12, Quan can see that the men in Mama’s life use money to manipulate her. It bothers him, but he doesn’t know what to... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...earns a 98% on the test. Thrilled and proud, he dreams of showing it to Mama and mailing the test to Daddy. (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Quan sprints from the bus, knowing that Mama will be home (Dwight beat her up again last night, and she doesn’t go out... (full context)
Chapter 3: Disrespect
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...hungry. Dwight has been living with the family for a year and a half, and Mama hasn’t worked in four months. Quan knows she was fired for taking too many sick... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...asleep, and it’s dark when he wakes up. He sprints home. Dwight is gone, but Mama’s face is swollen and it doesn’t look like she can use her arm. Quan apologizes,... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...about it because Dwight took the EBT card with him. Dwight also managed to find Mama’s meager stash of cash and left a note accusing her of hiding things. The first... (full context)
Snapshot: Two Boys Not Speaking (2013)
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...say to his cousin Manny. They live in different universes. Manny’s mama, Aunt Tiff, is Mama’s older half-sister. They didn’t know the other existed until Mama’s mother died and their shared... (full context)
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...leave if he knew that they barely have food at home, or the reason why Mama is wearing a long-sleeved turtleneck dress in summer. Would he leave if he knew Daddy... (full context)
Chapter 4: Defiance
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...as the cop cuffs him. Quan wets his pants and begins to cry. He knows Mama will be upset and Dwight will be impossible. Quan also wants to set a better... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Quan knows that no matter how much Dwight hurts Mama, she won’t kick him out. He doesn’t understand why, but he does know that telling... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Finally, the door opens and Mama leans in. She says, “Let’s go” and nothing else. In the lobby, while they wait... (full context)
Chapter 5: Delinquent
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...rocket ship when Trey tells him to. Quan desperately needs a friend who cares, because Mama clearly doesn’t. From the moment she walked him out of the police station, she’s been... (full context)
Snapshot: A Boy Meeting a Man (2016)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...quote rings true. Martel asks Quan to talk about his home life, and Quan mentions Mama and Dwight. He shares almost everything. When Quan is finished, Martel shares how the “organization”... (full context)
April 4
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
...ending up in prison and then finding things the same at home, was too much. Mama didn’t seem to care much, and Quan hadn’t heard from Daddy since he went to... (full context)
Chapter 6: Disclose
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Snapshot: A Boy Alone on a Run-Down Playground (2017)
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...the rocket ship once stood and knows he’s stuck. Dwight’s death wasn’t an accident, though Mama doesn’t know that. Before Quan came to the park, he went to Martel’s. Martel scolded... (full context)
Chapter 7: Disaster
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan is determined to make this drop fast. While cleaning out the closet, Mama opened one of Dwight’s boxes and found packets of letters from Daddy to Quan. Daddy... (full context)
Chapter 8: Deal
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...having nightmares about his arrest, too. The arrest itself wasn’t traumatic, but the look on Mama’s face will haunt him forever. (full context)
Chapter 10: Dasia
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Even though Liberty and Tay prepared Quan for Mama’s visit, Quan still feels like he’s going to be beheaded. Whatever she’s here for has... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Tay. Their desire to protect his mental and emotional health shook him. Liberty explained that Mama had called and asked about visitation hours. The woman at the front desk reached out... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan half wants to flip the table over as he sits down across from Mama. She looks tired and unwell. After a long silence, Mama says that Gabe misses Quan.... (full context)
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Mama says that right after she lost her job, one of Quan’s friends came to check... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan knows Mama won’t look at him again. He asks if Dasia knows Mama is here, but he... (full context)
June 14
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...that he’s not in a god place. He found out something about his sister when Mama came. Quan knows he’ll be working on his “unresolved ‘mommy-issue’ shit” with Tay for weeks... (full context)
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...of what it felt like to have support from guys who were there, even when Mama wasn’t. Now, all Quan can think about is that it seems like he has to... (full context)
Chapter 11: Debt
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
...Quan is terrified, helpless, and hopeless. He wonders if Doc knows about the odd letter Mama sent, saying that she, Dasia, and Gabe are moving to the suburbs. Doc might know... (full context)
August 27
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...He’s trying to keep his head up, but it’s getting harder. Quan did talk to Mama the other day, though. Dasia’s hair is starting to grow back, and he wishes she... (full context)
Snapshot: Two Young Men on a New (To Them) Playground
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...misses it, Quan thinks for a minute. He looks around at the clean park, at Mama laughing, and at Dasia on the swings with a boy. Gabe is having a great... (full context)