Beth Macy

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Interstate 81 Symbol Analysis

Interstate 81 Symbol Icon

Interstate 81 represents the connections between urban, suburban, and rural America and how the opioid crisis affected all parts of the country, albeit in different ways. In Dopesick, Interstate 81 is known as a “drug highway” and is perhaps most associated with the heroin ring run by Ronnie “D.C.” Jones, which exports heroin from Harlem in New York City all the way down to Woodstock, Virginia. Though the opioid crisis affects rural and urban America in different ways, the fates of all parts of the country are ultimately connected. In the decades leading up to the opioid epidemic, drug addiction was largely considered a big-city problem. Though the opioid epidemic begins in rural areas, soon rural addicts who can’t get prescription drugs begin turning to suppliers of other, illegal opioids in major cities. Interstate 81 shows how in the modern world, all parts of the United States are connected and how even issues that seem to be “rural problems” or “urban problems” can ultimately have an effect on the whole country.

Interstate 81 Quotes in Dopesick

The Dopesick quotes below all refer to the symbol of Interstate 81. 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:
Poverty as an Obstacle to Recovery  Theme Icon
Chapter 7 Quotes

In the picturesque Shenandoah Valley town of Woodstock, more than two hours north of Roanoke, bulk heroin cut in a Harlem lab had just made its way down I-81. It was the last thing Shenandoah County sergeant Brent Lutz, a Woodstock native, would have expected to find himself doing: stalking a major heroin dealer. But here he was, at all hours of the day and night, clutching a pair of binoculars while crouched in the upstairs bedroom of his cousin’s house a few miles outside of town. He’d spent so much time there in recent days that the mile-wide stench of chicken entrails coming from George’s Chicken across the road no longer bothered him.

Related Characters: Brent Lutz, Ronnie “D.C.” Jones
Related Symbols: Interstate 81
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Later that day, when Metcalf finally got his first close-up look at Ronnie Jones in a county jail interviewing room in Front Royal, he found him to be “very smug, very arrogant.”

The feeling was mutual. “He was very aggressive; he harassed people,” Jones said of Metcalf. Jones hated him for delivering a subpoena to the mother of his oldest child—at work, embarrassing and intimidating her, he said—and for interviewing Jones’s mom.

Related Characters: Bill Metcalf (speaker), Ronnie “D.C.” Jones (speaker)
Related Symbols: Interstate 81
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

By 2014, the suburban heroin-dealing scene had become entrenched in Roanoke’s McMansion subdivisions and poor neighborhoods alike. But the largest dealers weren’t twice-convicted felons like Ronnie Jones with elaborate dope-cutting schemes, multiple cars, and hired mules. They were local users, many of them female, dispatched to buy the heroin from a bulk dealer out of state, in exchange for a cut. And they were as elusive as hell to catch.

Related Symbols: Interstate 81
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:
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Interstate 81 Symbol Timeline in Dopesick

The timeline below shows where the symbol Interstate 81 appears in Dopesick. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Poverty as an Obstacle to Recovery  Theme Icon
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
To get to Ronnie Jones, Macy takes Interstate 81 , dubbed a “heroin highway” by some, and she goes in the opposite direction that... (full context)
Chapter 6
Cycles of History Theme Icon
...spreads like an infectious disease, jumping in particular between family members. The main hub is Interstate 81 , where OxyContin spreads up and down the Appalachians. (full context)
Chapter 7
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
...Virginia (two hours north of Roanoke), a big shipment of heroin has just arrived on Interstate 81 from Harlem. Local sergeant Brent Lutz is investigating it, tracking the movements of two suspected... (full context)
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon his mid-30s, and he drives an older Mercedes SUV. His heroin enters Virginia on Interstate 81 , typically carried in cheddar cheese Pringles cans by young women who take a bus... (full context)
Chapter 9
Poverty as an Obstacle to Recovery  Theme Icon
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
...picture of addiction in her local area. Police pull her over and arrest her on Interstate 81 , just north of Roanoke, discovering 722 bags of heroin. (full context)