Small Great Things

Small Great Things

by

Jodi Picoult

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Small Great Things: Chapter 9, Turk Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Turk looks around at his lawyer's swanky office. The lawyer, Roarke Matthews, leads him back to an even fancier office, offers condolences, and says that this will be more complicated than just getting Ruth to pay for killing Davis. He explains that the State is currently pursuing criminal charges against her, which means that if Turk files a civil suit simultaneously, Turk will look like he's just out to get money. Roarke suggests that Turk sues the hospital, which has more money to pay, and says they need to wait until the criminal suit is over to move forward.
Though Roarke Matthews doesn't show up again, from this one appearance he seems to be someone who is more interested in taking cases that will yield money than fighting personal and racial vendettas. However, he also understands that appearances matter in the legal system, and Turk will need to tread carefully so that he's taken seriously.
Themes
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
Stepping back in time again, Turk says that he didn't believe Francis that the new wave of white supremacy would be fought on the internet. Francis, however, was powerful, and Turk was in love with Brit. He visited often, but was too afraid to make a move. One day, Brit asked him about the rumors of Turk's fighting prowess. She asked Turk to take her out with his crew, and when he refused on the grounds that she was Francis's daughter, she put her hand in the path of the ax Turk was using. He agreed to take her.
Notice that though Turk is forming a relationship with Francis and they're part of the same community, Turk still approaches Francis with caution. His inability to move freely within the group suggests that the community isn't as warm as Turk thinks it is. Because it is based on hatred of an “other,” if someone leaves the group, it’s easy to become hated themselves.
Themes
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
In the present, Turk spends every night listening to Davis's ghost cry. One night, Turk gets up to drink. Francis lets himself in, throws a laptop at Turk, and tells him to get even. Turk pulls up his and Francis's website, LONEWOLF, which soon after its inception became the young and hip alternative to going to jail. It's been anonymous up to this point, but Turk decides to tell his story using his real name. He sits up all night watching the views rack up; 13,000 by dawn.
moving the white supremacist movement underground and making it anonymous on the internet does cause the community to experience fractures. By using his real name when he talks about Davis, Turk seeks to reinvigorate the movement with a human and personal touch.
Themes
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
On the night that Turk took Brit out, they had dinner with Francis first. Brit talked about hitting a black man with her car and told Francis that she and Turk were seeing a movie. In the car, Turk explained that he didn't have a crew anymore, which is how the rumors of him fighting alone started. Brit admitted that her mother, Adele, left Francis for a black man. Turk drove them to a hot dog stand popular with gay men and the two of them attacked a couple eating their hot dogs. Brit was vicious and Turk had to drag her off of her victim. They drove away to a secluded hill and had sex.
Brit's viciousness speaks to the amount of hate that she holds inside herself, which likely began when she first heard that her mother left Francis for a black man. This shows that both she and Turk lack the capacity to think critically about the tragedies their families have experienced, and instead take the easy route and blame people different than themselves. Brit never considers, for example, if Francis might've been at fault (or that one black man’s actions might not be representative of black people as a whole).
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
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When Turk arrives at the courthouse for the arraignment, they find a bunch of friends from LONEWOLF there too. A black woman approaches Turk and starts to talk to him. He almost pushes her away before he recognizes her voice—she's Odette Lawton, the prosecutor, and she didn't sound black on the phone. Turk reasons that this might work to his advantage. When Ruth is called, Turk spits on her face. He knows that Ruth will see his swastika tattoo as he's led out of the room.
Turk's initial sense of betrayal in learning that Odette is black speaks to the power of his hatred—he doesn't think before he acts, which means that he's judging people on first sight and is therefore at risk of missing many things. His understanding that Odette is the perfect person to represent him, however, shows that he understands that her blackness will at least be able to make him seem more sympathetic.
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
Outside, Turk notices media vans. He calls Francis and tells him to get Brit up and make her watch Channel Four. Turk puts his hat back on and approaches one of the newscasters. Though the woman isn't initially thrilled to speak to him, by the time he's done telling his story, a bunch of reporters are trying to speak to him. Odette comes out and makes a statement while Turk walks to the back of the building to watch Ruth be carted off to jail.
The media is after a sensational story, but they’re also interested in humanizing “both sides”—so they emphasize not Turk’s racism but how he and Brit tragically lost their baby at three days old, which is something that people can identify with. Turk wearing his hat means that he doesn't have to share his racial biases so openly.
Themes
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
After Turk's first date with Brit, he started visiting regularly. He ran LONEWOLF from the living room. The site had a number of comment boards but the most popular were the ones that gave suggestions for how individuals could stir up unrest without being violent. Francis and Turk tried a number of them, including slipping flyers about how the Holocaust was a hoax under windshield wipers in the parking lot of a Jewish community center. The newspapers went wild, but had no idea that the culprits were just two guys.
By distributing the flyers, Turk and Francis can make the community feel unsafe for every minority without letting on that they're not planning on actually hurting or killing anyone—thanks to the history of racism and anti-Semitism, the victims can make the leap to fearing for their lives without experiencing physical violence.
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
One night, Francis asked Turk when he was going to marry Brit. It took him a while, but Turk eventually brought her to his house to cook dinner for her. He pulled foods out of the fridge with food-related puns written on them and finally showed her "will you marry me Brit" spelled out in fruits and vegetables. He offered her a blue topaz ring, she said yes, and they had sex. After, she handed him a melon and made him promise that they cantaloupe.
More than any other moment in Brit and Turk's relationship, his proposal allows the reader to see them as two young people in love. With this, the novel continues to suggest that they're not dissimilar from anyone else in fundamental ways, though their love is certainly corrupted by the fact that it’s founded in mutual hatred of others.
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
When Turk returns from court, he finds Brit in front of the TV watching Odette speak. She smiles at Turk for the first time in weeks and tells him he's a star.
Brit's happiness suggests that, like Turk, she's willing to briefly put aside her racism and accept that Odette can help them.
Themes
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon