Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce

by

Nic Stone

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Martel Character Analysis

Martel is Quan’s first mentor and the leader of Black Jihad. He’s a tall, clean-cut Black man who likes to crack jokes—but the boys in his gang revere and fear him. Martel was inspired to start Black Jihad after earning his master’s degree in social work. He implies that he studied Huey Newton, one of the founders of the Black Panther Party, and the aims of the Black Panthers. Martel decided that the best way to help young Black men who grow up in poverty and in unstable homes is to give them support through a gang. Thus, Black Jihad was born. Though Black Jihad deals in arms, it provides young men like Quan a sense of family and belonging. Martel understands that his charges crave structure and recognition, so he schedules two meetings per week and gives the gang members opportunities to use their talents. This is why he promotes Quan to his bookkeeper—Quan is a math whiz, and he earns Quan’s loyalty by recognizing that. By the time that a member of Black Jihad shoots Officer Castillo outside Martel’s house, Quan feels as though he owes everything to Martel. Martel is the one adult who has seen and supported him ever since Daddy went to prison, so rather than let the cops discover who did shoot Officer Castillo, Quan confesses. And though Quan fears that Martel abandoned him after Quan ended up in jail, he later learns that Martel is supporting Mama through Dasia’s cancer diagnosis. Quan remains loyal to Martel to the end, but thanks to a deal that Justyce strikes with Martel, Quan is able to leave the gang on the condition that he pay back his debts. Martel also asks that Doc tutor the gang members, suggesting that he doesn’t think that gang life is the only way for young Black men to get ahead—he’d possibly rather see them earn an education. Martel never cashes the checks that Quan sends to repay his debt, suggesting that Martel continues to support Quan even after Quan leaves by allowing him to be free financially.

Martel Quotes in Dear Justyce

The Dear Justyce quotes below are all either spoken by Martel or refer to Martel. 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.
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:
Snapshot: A Boy Meeting a Man (2016) Quotes

“You mad about it?”

This gives Quan pause. It’s a question no one’s ever asked him, case managers included. He meets Martel’s gaze. “Yeah,” he says. “I am.”

“Why? You did the crime, didn’t you?”

Now Quan gulps. Last thing he wants to do is start sounding like some of the dudes in lockup who constantly complained about how “unfair” the system is. “Always take responsibility for your actions, Junior,” Daddy used to say. “I know the potential consequences of what I do, and I choose to do it anyway, so if it comes down on me, I don’t get to complain.”

Related Characters: Martel (speaker), Quan Banks (speaker), Daddy (speaker)
Page Number: 87
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:
Snapshot: A Boy Alone on a Run-Down Playground (2017) Quotes

Quan’s gaze drops. Lands on a word carved into one of the bench’s wooden slats in little-kid lettering:

F U K C

What are kids like Quan supposed to do?

He swipes at his dampening eyes and shifts them back to the black hole where his galactic getaway vehicle used to be.

Dwight is dead.

And Quan is here. Stuck. Grounded.

Forever.

No getting out.

No flying away.

No lifting off.

Because Dwight’s death wasn’t an accident.

Related Characters: Quan Banks, Martel, Dwight
Related Symbols: The Rocket Ship
Page Number: 106
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 8: Deal Quotes

But then they’d start searching for the gun that did match. Which could lead to trouble for everyone, Martel especially. Quan knew what contraband the guy had in his house. Which surely could lead to searches of Martel’s other properties.

Quan couldn’t let that happen. Especially not after everything Martel and the guys had done for him. He wouldn’t’ve been able to live with himself.

Related Characters: Quan Banks, Martel, Officer Tommy Castillo
Page Number: 156
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:
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Martel Character Timeline in Dear Justyce

The timeline below shows where the character Martel appears in Dear Justyce. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
February 8
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...he did, and it was almost unavoidable that he committed crimes. As Quan’s former mentor, Martel , would say, the “institutions of oppression” made the protagonist’s fate seem like destiny. (full context)
Snapshot: A Boy Meeting a Man (2016)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...ginger beer. He makes Quan recite his full name and tells Quan to call him Martel, not sir. Martel asks where Quan’s father is and asks if Quan has been incarcerated.... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Martel asks what else Quan is mad about. When Quan looks confused, Martel explains that he... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan is stunned. He never expected Martel to be college educated, and the Huey Newton quote rings true. Martel asks Quan to... (full context)
April 4
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Quan joined because he needed support. He needed a family. And it wasn’t all bad; Martel is a “visionary.” He wants to build a community center and a bookstore, and it... (full context)
Chapter 6: Disclose
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Snapshot: A Boy Alone on a Run-Down Playground (2017)
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...accident, though Mama doesn’t know that. Before Quan came to the park, he went to Martel’s. Martel scolded Quan for not telling him about things at home. He said he couldn’t... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Then, Martel told Quan that the safety of Black Jihad’s members is a priority, and they’ll take... (full context)
Chapter 7: Disaster
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...to Daddy. Picking up the money goes as planned, so Quan takes the pouch to Martel’s. Martel is throwing himself a birthday party; he was pulled over in Alabama last month... (full context)
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Martel has had a few drinks, so he’s chatty. He seems annoyed that Quan is in... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Trey pops the hatch of Martel’s Range Rover and sits in it. He instructs Brad to stand on the left, Quan... (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
Officer Tison asks Martel to take his hands out of his pockets and Martel asks what the cops want.... (full context)
April 24; Snapshot: A Postscript (Present Day)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...that if they’d had the support that Justyce did, none of them would’ve been at Martel’s that night. (full context)
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...south. Quan can barely remember, but he does know Castillo was pointing his gun at Martel before he swung around to point it at everyone else. According to Georgia law, shooting... (full context)
Chapter 8: Deal
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...would release him and look for the matching gun. This would lead to trouble for Martel, and Quan couldn’t fathom condemning a person who’s done so much for him. So he... (full context)
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...and read it. His mind spins at the thought of cops running ballistics and searching Martel’s house. When Quan looks down at his paper, he’s written the questions he’s thinking about... (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
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Justyce tries not to think about the crazy thing he’s about to ask Martel. He’s read up on gang exit strategies and didn’t learn anything reassuring. Martel greets Justyce,... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Quan. One of Justyce’s teachers took over facilitating Quan’s education, and Quan got his diploma. Martel looks genuinely happy at this, which gives Justyce hope. Justyce explains that Quan also has... (full context)
Choices vs. Fate Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Survival, Poverty, and Violence Theme Icon
...but Justyce knows that Quan can pursue his dreams with just a bit of help. Martel asks what those dreams are. Justyce doesn’t know what they are, so he says he... (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
Justyce stares at the poster of Huey Newton as Martel asks what he gets out of this. The request is outlandish; he should get something.... (full context)
Chapter 11: Debt
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
...knows that what’s been keeping Quan awake is the envelope he received with one of Martel’s houses as the return address. It contained a ledger, using the template Quan created. It... (full context)
Snapshot: Two Young Men on a New (To Them) Playground
Justice, Racial Bias, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...insists that’s just a mindset. They go quiet when Justyce says that Quan sounds like Martel. (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
...ask, but he asks if Justyce has seen him recently. Justyce nods. He was at Martel’s the other day to help DeMarcus with an essay, and Jared and Brad took the... (full context)