Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.


For Rashad, the television is not just white noise in the background, but rather a constant reminder of his brutal and unjust beating at the hands of law enforcement. The television bombards Rashad with the media frenzy surrounding his arrest. Rashad and Spoony watch the news all day until Rashad insists that they turn it off, and only then does the constant barrage of images and other people’s opinions about what happened finally cease.

Television is also a common denominator in Rashad and Quinn’s lives before they learn how their stories are intertwined. Rashad and his parents watch the same football game on Rashad’s TV in the hospital as the Galluzzos do during their cookout, representing how Rashad and Quinn can experience the same thing in starkly different ways.


Uniforms are often depicted in the novel as symbols of belonging, discipline, and respectability. Not only do they ensure that the people who wear them are able to easily identify one another, such as during one of Quinn’s basketball games, but they also signal to outsiders the authority the wearer possesses, such as Paul’s police uniform. Quinn sees Paul’s uniform before he sees Paul’s face, and because he knows both the uniform and the person wearing it, he does not immediately question the morality of Paul’s violence toward Rashad. Ironically, if Rashad had been wearing his ROTC uniform that day, Paul might not have given him a second look.