Small Great Things

Small Great Things

by

Jodi Picoult

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Small Great Things: Chapter 23, Turk Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In a small conference room in the courthouse, Turk tries to calm Brit down. Odette bursts in, saying that Brit looks perfectly distraught but threatening Ruth was a bad move. Brit towers over Odette but finally agrees to go to the bathroom. Odette addresses Turk and says that she doesn't care if they hate black people, but Brit can't testify—she can't be trusted to not shout racist slurs—and they have to trust Odette if they want to win. She also says she'll still call Turk. He wonders if having his grief in control means he loved Davis less. Odette then brings up the MCADD diagnosis and says that the defense has planted the seed that the disorder killed Davis. Turk sits heavily, feeling like his son's death was random.
Turk's ability to consider the possibility that Davis's death was random and to question his love for Davis suggests that his armor of hatred is beginning to crack. When compared to Brit, Turk is remarkably composed. Odette also shows here that she understands that Brit can serve a purpose and play a role (that of a grieving mother) but she's also a liability. Because of Turk's silence and willingness to consider, he's less of a risk to allow to testify.
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
As Turk is sworn in, he thinks of Twinkie. He wonders if they'd say hello if they ran into each other on the street, or if they'd just be a white supremacist and a black man. He looks out at Brit and thinks of how he told her that he told Odette that it would be cruel to make Brit testify. Turk begins to sweat as questioning starts about Brit's pregnancy and delivery. He even starts to tear up as he talks about how he loved his son. Then, Odette asks him about when things started to go wrong, and Turk admits that he's a white supremacist. He points out that medical personnel are still required to treat patients when they don't agree with their beliefs, hence his request to take Ruth off of Davis's case.
The fact that Turk lied to Brit about how his conversation went with Odette suggests that he doesn't feel entirely comfortable being himself with her—he's afraid that he's going to look weak and sympathetic towards black people. However, when he thinks of Twinkie, it shows that Turk is actually beginning to privately humanize people different than himself, which suggests that he may be able to make the leap and reform his beliefs.
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Then, Turk describes following the commotion to the nursery, seeing Ruth pounding on Davis's chest, and watching Dr. Atkins declare him dead. Odette offers Turk tissues as he says that he just wanted to give Davis a good life. During the recess, Odette coaches Turk and tells him to stay calm during Kennedy's questioning. As soon as Odette leaves, Brit spits that she hates her. Turk wonders out loud if Odette is right, and that if he hadn't spoken out, Davis would be alive. With a look of disgust, Brit asks when Turk became weak and walks away. Turk remembers how, in the last weeks of her pregnancy, Brit poisoned the neighbor's dog when it wouldn't stop barking.
Again, the interactions between Turk and Brit suggest that their marriage is faltering. In particular, Turk's memory of Brit poisoning the neighbor's dog suggests that Brit is more ruthless and vicious than he's given her credit for—and at this point, she's the only one of the two of them out for blood. This in turn shows that while Brit is still consumed by hatred, Turk is dealing with his grief by trying to expand his thinking and consider alternatives.
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Related Quotes
As Kennedy begins her questioning, Turk thinks that he hates people like Kennedy. She asks him if he understands the implications of the MCADD diagnosis and then, puzzlingly, asks about his Twitter handle, @WhiteMight. She asks him to read a tweet from last July that says, "we all get what's coming to us," and then suggests that both Turk and Davis got what they deserved—Turk can't deal with the fact that his perfect Aryan child had a genetic anomaly, so he's blaming Davis's death on Ruth. Full of rage, Turk leans over the rail, grabs for Kennedy, and calls her a race traitor. He comes to in a cell, and Odette tells him that he messed everything up.
Though Kennedy's line of questioning is ruthless, she also points out the holes and blind spots in Turk's beliefs of white supremacy. Because white supremacy assumes the superiority and the perfection of white people, it's impossible then to accept that a perfect child like Davis might've had a life-threatening condition. Turk's anger shows that he can't yet handle having inconsistencies pointed out to him; his critical thinking is still overshadowed by anger and hate.
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
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