The Crossover

by

Kwame Alexander

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Locks/Wings Symbol Icon

At the beginning of the novel, Josh wears his hair in locks. He explains that he does this not just to differentiate himself from JB, but also because it makes him feel closer to Dad, whose locks looked like wings in an old photo. Like Dad, Josh is skilled at dunking the ball and he attributes this skill to his "wings," which suggests that locks connect Josh both to Dad and to his success on the court. It's telling, then, that things start to go downhill for Josh personally and for the entire Bell family when he's forced to shave his locks after JB cuts several of them off. Josh's senses of rootlessness, solitude, and failure in the rest of the novel can then be read as the direct result of losing these connections and his childhood sense of identity--which, though it might be a normal part of growing up, also suggests that Josh's identity will have to fundamentally shift as he moves towards adulthood, especially after Dad's death.

Locks/Wings Quotes in The Crossover

The The Crossover quotes below all refer to the symbol of Locks/Wings. 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:
Inheritance and Genetics Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin edition of The Crossover published in 2014.
Warm-Up Quotes

1. ever since I watched
the clip of Dad
posterizing
that seven-foot Croatian center
on ESPN's Best Dunks Ever;
soaring through the air—his
long twisted hair like wings
carrying him
high above
the rim—I knew
one day
I'd need
my own wings
to fly.

Related Characters: Josh (speaker), Dad
Related Symbols: Locks/Wings
Page Number: 14-15
Explanation and Analysis:
First Quarter Quotes

And so each time
I count the locks
of hair
beneath my pillow
I end up with thirty-seven
plus one tear,
which never
adds up.

Related Characters: Josh (speaker)
Related Symbols: Locks/Wings
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:
Second Quarter Quotes

Ever seen an eagle soar?
So high, so fly.
Me and my wings are--
and that's when I remember:
MY. WINGS. ARE. GONE.

Related Characters: Josh (speaker)
Related Symbols: Locks/Wings
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Crossover LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Crossover PDF

Locks/Wings Symbol Timeline in The Crossover

The timeline below shows where the symbol Locks/Wings appears in The Crossover. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Warm-Up
Brotherhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
...drives to the game, Josh sits in the back with JB. JB plays with Josh's locks and only stops when Josh hits him with his jock strap. (full context)
Brotherhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Language Theme Icon
Five Reasons I Have Locks. Josh lists the five reasons he has locks, in ascending order of importance. First, his favorite rappers, including Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz,... (full context)
First Quarter
Brotherhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
...twins and they're almost thirteen. They're easy to tell apart though; Josh is taller, has locks and wants to go to Duke, while JB's head is shaved and he wants to... (full context)
Identity and Language Theme Icon
...JB revises the bet. He says that he'd like to cut just one of Josh's locks, and if Josh wins, JB will moon the nerdy sixth graders that sit near them... (full context)
Identity and Language Theme Icon
...chanting "Filthy" over and over again as JB grabs Josh's hair. He doesn't hear his lock hit the ground, but he knows something is wrong when Vondie shouts, "OH, SNAP!" (full context)
Brotherhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Language Theme Icon
...results in injuries. As an example, he says that if JB had taken cutting Josh's lock seriously, he would've only cut one. Instead, however, JB created a calamity: he cut five... (full context)
Inheritance and Genetics Theme Icon
Brotherhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Language Theme Icon
...not a mathematician, but he usually does okay with math. However, he keeps counting his locks under his pillow. He has 37 locks and one tear, and he thinks they never... (full context)
Brotherhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
...but Josh always says no. Today, however, Josh asks Mom for a box for his locks and she tells him to take one of her Sunday hatboxes out of the closet.... (full context)
Brotherhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
...if he'll be at the gym over Thanksgiving break and why he cut his "cute" locks. Vondie giggles. As JB walks up, Miss Sweet Tea offers him some sweet iced tea. (full context)
Inheritance and Genetics Theme Icon
To fall asleep. As Josh tries to fall asleep, he counts his locks over and over again. He feels like they're "strands of his past." (full context)
Second Quarter
Inheritance and Genetics Theme Icon
Identity and Language Theme Icon
...players stick close to Josh. He decides to try to dunk until he realizes his locks are gone. Coach, Dad, and the crowd all scream for Josh to pass the ball.... (full context)
Fourth Quarter
Inheritance and Genetics Theme Icon
Brotherhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Success, Work, and Choice Theme Icon
Identity and Language Theme Icon
...and didn't care, and is always with Miss Sweet Tea. Josh feels empty without his locks and thinks that CPR doesn't work. He reasons that if his crossover had been better,... (full context)