Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
As Trevor’s first romantic interest, Maylene both symbolizes his coming of age and highlights how much growing up he still has ahead of him. The experience with Maylene teaches Trevor what is acceptable in the social dynamics of society. The entire trilogy dedicated to Trevor’s crushes, one of which features Maylene, takes place in Part II, which spans the awkward years of his adolescence and puberty. Maylene is very pretty, but he is not initially attracted to her. He asks her to be his Valentine anyway because his friends think it is a good idea due to their mixed-race similarity, and Trevor is young enough to value their opinion more than he trusts his own. He goes through the standard steps of courting Maylene, kissing her, and even buying her gifts. When she ends up going to the dance with a handsome white boy, it is clear that Maylene is as callow as Trevor, and their failed attempt at a relationship symbolizes their shared immaturity and concerns over status.
In the second part of Trevor’s romantic trilogy, his feelings for Zaheera are sincere, which symbolizes how he has matured enough to prioritize his own opinions above the opinions of his peers. His desire to get to know Zaheera as a person indicates his increasing maturity, but Trevor and Zaheera are both too shy to follow through on their feelings, and she soon moves to the United States. Trevor’s feelings upon learning of her departure illustrate a textbook example of regret. He learns that rejection is better than not acting at all, because then one is not left with regret. Zaheera will forever be the symbol of lost opportunity, and Trevor will regret that loss keenly.
Babiki represents how language can impede or create connection, foster belonging, and craft identity. In the final episode of his romantic trilogy, it seems as if Trevor will finally succeed in his pursuits. Unfortunately, Trevor does not define success in a mature way, and Babiki’s beauty distracts him to the point that he regresses into an awkward, pubescent boy. Although Trevor takes Babiki to the dance, she refuses to go in with him, as she does not speak English and has no idea what is happening most of the night. Due to this language barrier, Babiki is unable to connect with the community of Trevor’s school. Babiki is basically a status symbol for Trevor, and when the night ends in disaster, she also comes to symbolize his own hubris. It is possible she only accepted the invitation because it was expected of her as a woman. However, she does kiss him goodnight later, which shows Trevor how little he understands romance and how much more he has to learn.