Small Great Things

Small Great Things

by

Jodi Picoult

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Turk is one of the most powerful white supremacists on the east coast. He learned to hate black people when his older brother, Tanner, died in a car crash with a black man. This experience becomes the root of Turk's hate for black people and means that when his friend Raine introduces him to the white supremacist scene, Turk is happy to join. Though Turk does wonder whether these beliefs are correct, he stops asking questions when he realizes that his father is gay, and beats him up as his formal initiation. Turk goes to jail briefly and befriends a black man named Twinkie, but reasons that jail is different from the outside world. In the years after his release, Turk starts the website lonewolf.org with Francis Mitchum and marries Francis's daughter, Brit. The two have a baby two years later at Ruth's hospital. At the time of Davis's birth, Turk is still angry at all black people. He threatens Marie and asks that Ruth not be allowed to touch Davis. When Davis dies two days later, Turk blames Ruth and files a complaint against her. In the aftermath of Davis's death, Turk struggles to care for Brit. He fears that he lost her as well as his son and feels impotent when he learns that he can't bring charges against Ruth until after the state finishes its lawsuit. Turk instead turns to the internet to try to round up white supremacists to commit an act of vandalism to honor Davis, but this attempt is also unsuccessful. Turk's anger and fear continue to grow throughout the trial. When he learns that Davis had a disorder that made him more susceptible to death, and that Davis's death was entirely random, Turk begins to question if his racist beliefs inadvertently killed his son. When he learns that Brit and Davis have African American blood, Turk is shocked, but he discovers that he still loves them and wishes Davis were alive. In the epilogue, six years later, Turk reforms his beliefs, remarries, and speaks out against hate for the Anti-Defamation League.

Turk Bauer Quotes in Small Great Things

The Small Great Things quotes below are all either spoken by Turk Bauer or refer to Turk Bauer. 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:
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Small Great Things published in 2016.
Chapter 3, Turk Quotes

They were all wearing black shirts with a logo over the chest: NADS. "What's that stand for?" I asked.

"North American Death Squad," Raine said. "It's kind of our thing."

I wanted one of those T-shirts so bad. "So, like, how do you get to be a part of it?" I asked, as casually as I could manage.

One of the other guys laughed. "You get asked," he said.

I decided at that moment I was going to do whatever it took to get an invitation.

Related Characters: Turk Bauer (speaker), Raine Tesco (speaker)
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6, Turk Quotes

It's not like I stopped using that word. But I'll admit, sometimes when I said it, it stuck in my throat like a fish bone before I could cough it free.

Related Characters: Turk Bauer (speaker), Twinkie
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8, Kennedy Quotes

I think about Ruth walking down the street in East End and wonder how many other residents questioned what she was doing there, even if they never said it to her face. How incredibly easy it is to hide behind white skin, I think, looking at these probable supremacists. The benefit of the doubt is in your favor. You're not suspicious.

Related Characters: Kennedy McQuarrie (speaker), Ruth Jefferson, Turk Bauer, Brit Bauer
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15, Turk Quotes

"They promised us we'd be part of something bigger than us. That we'd be proud of our heritage and our race. And maybe that's, like, ten percent of the whole deal. The rest is just hating everyone else for existing. Once I started thinking that, I couldn't stop. Maybe that's why I felt like shit all the time, like I wanted to fucking bust someone's face in constantly, just to remind myself that I could. That's okay for me. But that's not how I want my kid to grow up."

Related Characters: Raine Tesco (speaker), Turk Bauer
Page Number: 248
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23, Turk Quotes

What would happen if I ran into him on the street? At a Starbucks? Would we do the man hug thing? Or would we pretend we didn't know each other? He knew what I was, on the outside, just like I knew what he was. But in jail, things were different, and what I'd been taught to believe didn't hold true. If we crossed paths now, would he still be Twinkie to me? Or would he just be another nigger?

Related Characters: Turk Bauer (speaker), Twinkie
Page Number: 382
Explanation and Analysis:

I have been thinking about what Odette Lawton said: if I hadn't spoken out against the black nurse, would this have ended differently? Would she have tried to save Davis the minute she realized he wasn't breathing? Would she have treated him like any other critical patient, instead of wanting to hurt me like I'd hurt her?

Related Characters: Turk Bauer (speaker), Ruth Jefferson, Davis Bauer, Odette Lawton
Page Number: 382
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24, Kennedy Quotes

"You think you're a respected member of a community—the hospital where you work, the town where you live. I had a wonderful job. I had colleagues who were friends. I lived in a home I was proud of. But it was just an optical illusion. I was never a member of any of those communities. I was tolerated, but not welcomed. I was, and will always be, different from them."

Related Characters: Ruth Jefferson (speaker), Turk Bauer, Kennedy McQuarrie, Howard, Davis Bauer
Page Number: 404
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 28, Turk Quotes

My head actually aches from holding three incompatible truths in it: 1. Black people are inferior. 2. Brit is half black. 3. I love Brit with all my heart.

Shouldn't numbers one and two make number three impossible? Or is she the exception to the rule? Was Adele one, too?

I think of me and Twinkie dreaming of the food we craved behind bars.

How many exceptions do there have to be before you start to realize that maybe the truths you've been told aren't actually true?

Related Characters: Turk Bauer (speaker), Brit Bauer, Adele , Twinkie
Page Number: 443
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Small Great Things LitChart as a printable PDF.
Small Great Things PDF

Turk Bauer Character Timeline in Small Great Things

The timeline below shows where the character Turk Bauer appears in Small Great Things. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2, Ruth
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
...his mother's gestational diabetes. She then warns Ruth that there's something off about the dad, Turk. (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
...room, she introduces herself to Brit and asks the baby's name to start a conversation. Turk is hulking and seems on edge, and Brit looks to him before she answers Ruth's... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
...back to Brit and tries to help her position Davis to nurse. Brit flinches while Turk tells Ruth to back off and that he'd like to speak to her boss. Ruth... (full context)
Chapter 3, Turk
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Turk tells the reader that the first black person he ever met killed his older brother,... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
In the present, Turk drives Brit to the hospital. She's in labor and trying not to show that she's... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Stepping into the past again, Turk says that everything fell apart after Tanner died. Turk's father moved out and Turk's mother... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
After seven hours of labor, the nurse, Lucille, finally tells Brit it's time to push. Turk notices that Brit looks afraid for the first time and tries to ignore his own... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Gramps died suddenly when Turk was fifteen, so Turk turned to crime. While working at a coffeehouse during a short... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
The festival looked like a carnival, filled with families with young children. One man invited Turk to try his hand at shooting a target, so Turk surveyed his options: exaggerated Jewish... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Brit and Turk decide to name their son Davis, after the Confederate president, and then Brit sends Turk... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
A year after the festival, Raine decided that Turk was ready to be inducted into NADS. One night when Turk was staying with his... (full context)
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
In the hospital, Turk tells Marie that he wants Lucille back. Marie insists that they can't discriminate against Ruth... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
A few years after Turk got involved in the White Power Movement, Turk's mother died. While going through her things,... (full context)
Chapter 4, Ruth
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
After Marie sends Ruth out of the Bauers' room, Ruth and Corinne joke about how Turk is a real winner. Ruth knows that Turk isn't just silly; he's racist, judging by... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
...like a religious preference and to be happy that she doesn't have to deal with Turk, but Ruth notes that she's the only person who's being discriminated against. (full context)
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...baby should hear is a prayer. Ruth thinks that the difference between the man and Turk is the difference between love and hate. (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
...Davis. Ruth is asked to stop and restart compressions several times. Suddenly, Brit screams—she and Turk are in the nursery, watching. Dr. Atkins arrives and within seconds, Davis's heart stops. As... (full context)
Chapter 6, Turk
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Turk and Francis Mitchum, his father-in-law, dismantle the nursery. Francis pulls down the curtains and repaints... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Turk thinks about a live baby using the crib and the baby clothes, and stands up... (full context)
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Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
That evening, Turk and Francis go to pick up Brit from the hospital. Brit recoils before getting in... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
After high school, Turk briefly attended community college but couldn't stand the liberal professors. He did recruit at the... (full context)
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
In the middle of the night, Turk wakes in a pool of sweat. Brit isn't in bed; he finds her standing in... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
The next day, Turk puts on the suit he shares with Francis in preparation for his meeting with Carla... (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Going back in time, Turk recalls that within a year of starting the Hartford NADS crew, they were doing well.... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Turk decided to keep his head down, spend his time plotting revenge, and hoped that the... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
In the present, Francis watches Turk kick through the front window of the duplex. Turk insists the window was bad, but... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
After Turk got out of jail, he discovered that Yorkey had joined a group of hulking bikers.... (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
On the day of Davis's funeral, Turk wonders who organized it. Most of the attendees are people Turk doesn't know, but they're... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
A few weeks after Turk's fight with the bikers, he got a handwritten note from Francis asking him to come... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Francis and Turk walked through the backyard, where Francis admitted that he likes talking to young people so... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...to pay his respects. Brit isn't charmed; she goes inside and starts throwing casserole dishes. Turk tries to comfort her, but Brit spits that this would all be over if Turk... (full context)
Chapter 7, Ruth
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
...isn't on her side. Ruth recounts her story several times, insists she wasn't angry with Turk and Brit, and is shocked when Carla asks about Ruth's offhand sterilization comment. (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...clear out her locker. She calls the union lawyer from the car, tells him about Turk Bauer, and then gets a call from Corinne. (full context)
Chapter 8, Kennedy
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...yelling "murderer" and Kennedy sees Ruth flinch—someone has spit on her face. The bailiffs drag Turk out. The clerk reads that Ruth is being charged with murder and negligent homicide, and... (full context)
Chapter 9, Turk
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
Turk looks around at his lawyer's swanky office. The lawyer, Roarke Matthews, leads him back to... (full context)
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Stepping back in time again, Turk says that he didn't believe Francis that the new wave of white supremacy would be... (full context)
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.... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief 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... (full context)
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The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
When Turk arrives at the courthouse for the arraignment, they find a bunch of friends from LONEWOLF... (full context)
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Outside, Turk notices media vans. He calls Francis and tells him to get Brit up and make... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
After Turk's first date with Brit, he started visiting regularly. He ran LONEWOLF from the living room.... (full context)
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One night, Francis asked Turk when he was going to marry Brit. It took him a while, but Turk eventually... (full context)
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The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
When Turk returns from court, he finds Brit in front of the TV watching Odette speak. She... (full context)
Chapter 11, Kennedy
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
When Ruth insists that the issue is that Turk didn't want her near Davis, Kennedy pushes back. She says that the state doesn't care... (full context)
Chapter 12, Ruth
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...Kennedy says she's experienced in working with people like Ruth. When Ruth reminds Kennedy of Turk, she's flabbergasted at Kennedy's response: he has nothing to do with her case. As Kennedy... (full context)
Chapter 15, Turk
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Three months after Davis's funeral, Francis tells Turk to post an invitation on LONEWOLF for people to come to the house on Sunday,... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The next evening, Turk, Brit, and Francis are watching the news while Turk posts on LONEWOLF. After Francis goes... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
When Turk reaches out to Raine, Raine is thrilled and invites Turk to his new house for... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...hating people. Some guys beat Raine up, and then he was out of the movement. Turk thinks that he's looking at a loser and knows he'll never see Raine again as... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
Two days later, Turk has met with squad leaders up and down the east coast. He gets home after... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Turk tells the reader that at first, there were all sorts of white supremacists and they... (full context)
Chapter 20, Turk
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
On the day of the trial, Turk feels empty. Brit comes out of the bathroom in her pantyhose and suggests that Turk... (full context)
Chapter 22, Ruth
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...from Mama's funeral. Minutes later, Odette begins her opening statement. She tells the story of Turk and Brit's experience at the hospital, and their "personal preferences" that led them to ask... (full context)
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
Kennedy rises to make her statement. She says that Turk blamed Ruth for Davis's death, but the evidence will show that it wouldn't have made... (full context)
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...wasn't upset that Marie got it. On the stand, Marie talks about her conversation with Turk about taking Ruth off the case. She says that Ruth was offended but she didn't... (full context)
Chapter 23, Turk
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
In a small conference room in the courthouse, Turk tries to calm Brit down. Odette bursts in, saying that Brit looks perfectly distraught but... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community 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... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Then, Turk describes following the commotion to the nursery, seeing Ruth pounding on Davis's chest, and watching... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
As Kennedy begins her questioning, Turk thinks that he hates people like Kennedy. She asks him if he understands the implications... (full context)
Chapter 24, Kennedy
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...care for patients and do no harm. Ruth explains what happened on the morning that Turk asked she be taken off Davis's case. She then explains what happened when Davis stopped... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...Ruth snaps: she says that she thought Davis was better off dead than raised by Turk. Howard shouts his objection and Edison runs out of the room. (full context)
Chapter 26, Kennedy
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Institutional Racism Theme Icon
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 28, Turk
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Turk is shocked when a black woman tries to touch Brit and then lies that Brit... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...though Francis tries to get the LONEWOLF members to help look for her, they disappear. Turk doesn't care; he just wants to find Brit. As they drive around, Francis tells his... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Turk breaks into the graveyard and he and Francis approach Davis's grave. They find Brit there,... (full context)
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Turk wanders the halls and ends up in the preemie NICU. He stands at the nursery... (full context)
Chapter 29, Kennedy
The Justice System and the Politics of Speech Theme Icon
...Wallace Mercy's show and receives donations from his viewers. Brit is in the hospital and Turk hasn't been back to court. Right after the debacle with Adele and Mercy, Ruth asked... (full context)
Chapter 31, Turk
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Belonging and Community Theme Icon
Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
Six years later, Turk is at the doctor's office with his daughter, Carys, who's battling strep throat. He tells... (full context)
Racism: Hate, Fear, and Grief Theme Icon
Turk says he still struggles with rage, but he's a part of an ice hockey league... (full context)
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Family and Shared Humanity Theme Icon
...and introduces herself as Ruth Walker. She owns the clinic and seems not to recognize Turk. Ruth examines Carys as Turk looks around the room. He sees a diploma with the... (full context)