Dear Justyce

Dear Justyce

by

Nic Stone

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Dear Justyce can help.
Summary
Analysis
In a letter to Daddy, Quan writes that he’s not sure how to start. There’s too much to write, though he does want to note that he did get the letters, and he apologizes for not writing and for thinking that Daddy gave up on him. It made Quan feel something when, in the last letter, Daddy wrote that he wouldn’t blame Quan for pretending he doesn’t exist, but he loves Quan and wants the best for him. To Quan, this feels backwards. He apologizes for making Daddy feel that way and says he never wants to pretend Daddy doesn’t exist.
Quan feels that, in a way, he’s guilty: he didn’t continue writing to Daddy, even though he could’ve. In this sense, Quan recognizes that he hasn’t been as loyal to Daddy as he perhaps should have. That Quan was writing this letter to Daddy in 2017 (about 18 months before the story of the novel’s present begins) suggests that it’s not a new development for Quan to be writing to Justyce. Writing, and writing openly about his feelings, is something he’s been comfortable doing for a while now.
Themes
Identity, Support, and Community Theme Icon
Family, Loyalty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Quan apologizes one more time for failing to become what Daddy wanted him to be. He can’t explain everything, but someone hid Daddy’s letters from Quan. Without Daddy, Quan didn’t have anyone to support him. Quan tried, but he wonders how different things would be if he’d gotten the letters. He admits he cried as he read Daddy’s words about believing in Quan’s ability to do better. But it doesn’t matter now. Quan chose this path, even though he’s not sure he had an option. He supposes Daddy didn’t have an option either. Quan will go away for a long time, but he has to let Daddy know he loves him. He’s not mad at Daddy for being gone and thanks Daddy for the words, even if they’re too late. Quan takes it back. It’s not too late, and he knows what he has to do.
It’s also worth noting how mature Quan seems in his letters. He may still be a child in many ways, but he understands how he’s ended up where he is and what the consequences will be. In this letter, Quan also sheds doubt on the idea that Daddy chose his illegal job, which is what Daddy implied earlier. Here, Quan suggests that Daddy didn’t really have much of an option—just like Quan didn’t feel he had much of an option but to join Black Jihad. With this, he acknowledges that people who grow up fighting racism, poverty, and violence have few options—and those available tend to be illegal.
Themes
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
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