Small Great Things

Small Great Things

by

Jodi Picoult

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Small Great Things: Chapter 26, Kennedy Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Kennedy receives a call from Ruth around 2 am. She heads straight to the police station and explains that she's the family lawyer. The officer says that they have security footage of Edison spray-painting swastikas and racist slurs on the hospital, which makes this a hate crime. Kennedy is stunned but pays for the magistrate to come so she can get Edison out.
Just as Turk was driven to hate when his family was torn apart, Edison is also compelled to act hatefully when it seems as though he's going to lose his only living parent.
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Kennedy finds Edison in his holding cell, crying. He explains that he wanted to help Ruth by framing Turk. Kennedy tells the reader that if one is willing to pay extra, it's possible to organize an arraignment at the jail. At Edison's arraignment, Kennedy explains the situation and Edison is let go. Kennedy drives Edison home and asks him why he stooped so low. He says he was angry that racism never came up during the trial. When they pull into Ruth's driveway, Ruth slaps Edison but also holds him close.
Unlike Turk, Edison's motive wasn't just to make someone else's life miserable. It's worth noting that Edison has been raised to be sensitive and aware of his emotions, so he's already in a better place to deal with grief than Turk was. Even though people may be pushed in similar directions, their family situation also influences how they ultimately behave.
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
It's almost 4 am by the time Kennedy gets home, so she cleans up in her office. She knocks over a stack of papers, including Davis's infant screening, and reads the rest of his results. She notices one other abnormal result—Davis is a carrier for sickle cell anemia—and looks it up on the internet. Then, she calls Wallace Mercy.
Sickle cell anemia is something that overwhelmingly shows up in African diaspora populations; it's rare in a person with no African blood. This result then raises the possibility that Davis's parents aren't as “pure blooded” as they thought they were.
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
On Monday morning, Judge Thunder agrees to delay closing arguments so that Kennedy can deal with Edison's formal arraignment first. Edison is released with no issues and everyone slips into Judge Thunder's courtroom. As Judge Thunder checks that everyone is ready, Ruth says she'd like to get rid of Kennedy. Judge Thunder refuses and grants another half hour so that Kennedy and Ruth can talk. They lock themselves in a bathroom and Kennedy apologizes, asks for another chance, and says that Ruth deserves to be treated fairly. Ruth agrees.
Judge Thunder's lenience suggests that he's kinder and more understanding than Kennedy gave him credit for. This continues the novel's project of encouraging readers to not judge people without getting to know them first, as Judge Thunder is proving himself to be nothing like Kennedy initially described him.
Themes
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
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When Kennedy begins her closing argument, she feels surrounded by the stories of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin. Addressing the jury, she asks them to consider what life would be like if people born in the first half of the week were given special treatment, but everyone still said that things were equal. Kennedy says that she wants to know why Ruth is the only person who's taking the fall for Davis's death, when plenty of other doctors and nurses cared for him.
Kennedy's sense of being surrounded by these black victims suggests that she now understands that Ruth isn't a lone victim; what happened to her is part of a long history of racism and violence towards people of color. By asking the jury to consider the thought experiment that likely accounts for Davis's death, she puts racism in a metaphor they can easily understand.
Themes
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
Kennedy says it's easy to see overt racism, but it's not easy to see the small things that black people deal with every day. However, she says, even if all white supremacists were shipped to Mars, racism would exist because racism is about who has power. Kennedy goes through the differences between active racism, like Turk espouses, and passive racism, which is not noticing that, for example, the only black history that students study is slavery. In closing, Kennedy asks the jury to return to her thought experiment and see that arbitrary discrimination is a big deal.
When Kennedy talks about racism still existing without white supremacists, she shifts her conversation to focus on institutional racism rather than overt personal racism. While it's easy for people to understand that Turk is racist, it's much easier for white people to move through life without questioning microaggressions and systemic biases, as Kennedy has done up to this point.
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon