The Hate U Give

Code switching Term Analysis

Code switching refers to the act of changing the way one presents oneself in different surroundings. Starr and her family engage in code switching throughout the novel, altering their inflection, vocabulary, and dress based on whether they are talking to fellow residents of Garden Heights, white people, or law enforcement. Starr feels that she shifts into an entirely separate version of herself at Williamson, dropping many of the tics of her speech so as to not appear “ghetto” to her classmates.

Code switching Quotes in The Hate U Give

The The Hate U Give quotes below are all either spoken by Code switching or refer to Code switching. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of The Hate U Give published in 2017.
Chapter 1 Quotes

As long as I play it cool and keep to myself, I should be fine. The ironic thing is though, at Williamson I don't have to “play it cool” — I’m cool by default because I'm one of the only black kids there. I have to earn coolness in Garden Heights, and that's more difficult than buying retro Jordans on release day.

Funny how it works with white kids though. It's dope to be black until it's hard to be black.

Related Characters: Starr Carter (speaker)
Page Number: 11
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Chapter 2  Quotes

The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me. … “Starr-Starr, you do whatever they tell you to do," he said. "Keep your hands visible. Don't make any sudden moves. Only speak when they speak to you."

I knew it must've been serious. Daddy has the biggest mouth of anybody I know, and if he said to be quiet, I needed to be quiet.

Related Characters: Starr Carter (speaker), Maverick Carter (speaker)
Page Number: 20
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Chapter 5 Quotes

Williamson Starr doesn't use slang—if a rapper would say it, she doesn't say it, even if her white friends do. Slang makes them cool. Slang makes her “hood.” Williamson Starr holds her tongue when people piss her off so nobody will think she's the “angry black girl.” Williamson Starr is approachable. No stank-eyes, side-eyes, none of that. Williamson Starr is nonconfrontational. Basically, Williamson Starr doesn't give anyone a reason to call her ghetto.

Related Characters: Starr Carter (speaker)
Page Number: 71
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Chapter 6 Quotes

My voice is changing already. It always happens around “other” people, whether I'm at Williamson or not. I don't talk like me or sound like me. I choose every word carefully and make sure I pronounce them well. I can never, ever let anyone think I'm ghetto.

Related Characters: Starr Carter (speaker), Detective Gomez, Detective Wilkes
Page Number: 95
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Chapter 17 Quotes

Being two different people is so exhausting. I've taught myself to speak with two different voices and only say certain things around certain people. I've mastered it. As much as I say I don't have to choose which Starr I am with Chris, maybe without realizing it, I have to an extent. Part of me feels like I can't exist around people like him.

Related Characters: Starr Carter (speaker), Chris
Page Number: 301
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Chapter 21 Quotes

Chris and Maya walk through the gate, and my stomach gets all jittery. I should be used to my two worlds colliding, but I never know which Starr I should be. I can use some slang, but not too much slang, some attitude, but not too much attitude, so I'm not a “sassy black girl.” I have to watch what I say and how I say it, but I can't sound “white.”

Related Characters: Starr Carter (speaker), Chris, Maya Yang
Page Number: 357
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Chapter 23 Quotes

“Anyway, Chris,” Seven says, “DeVante's got a point. What makes his name or our names any less normal than yours? Who or what defines 'normal' to you? If my pops were here, he'd say you've fallen into the trap of the white standard.”

Related Characters: Seven (speaker), Chris, DeVante
Page Number: 401
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