Police Brutality in The Hate U Give

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Novelist Angie Thomas and her novel “The Hate U Give” expresses the life of a sixteen year old girl named Starr, who was a witness to her best friend Khalil get murdered by the police in cold blood. Thomas purpose for writing the “The Hate U Give” is to convey the message of being able to stand up against important issues such as racism and police brutality. The loss of Starr’s best friend Khalil was the major event in the book that brings about the issue of police brutality in the book. Thomas describes how people can fight for justice by coming together, which in turn establishes the theme of being able to speak up and fight for justice against racism and police brutality. The novel is mainly identified as pathos, uses several figurative languages, and also uses a cautious tone in dealing with the ongoing issue of police brutality in the novel.

With regards to the use of repetition in the novel, Thomas creates emphasis on the situations that develop within the characters in the novel, which in turn leaves the reader to identify the novel mainly to be pathos. Thomas makes the reader feel connected to the characters by describing the types of emotions the characters go through. When Khalil had just been shot, it became very difficult for Starr to breathe because she was in complete shock and was also really terrified about what had just happened to the point that she “gasp. And gasp. And gasp (Thomas 21).” Seeing that Khalil was killed by an officer that was supposed to be protecting the citizens, Thomas intends on making the reader pay attention to the events that were occurring, the reason being that the reader can only use their imaginations to figure out whatever is going on in the passage with the help of context clues. After Khalil was shot, Starr knew that the same fate could await her if she did anything, but she could not do anything about it because her “Instincts says don’t move, but everything else says check on Khalil (Thomas 20).” which then explains why people react because most of the times, the feeling that are going through the human body would overthrow the actions of the body making the person do the things that they fear. The use of pathos in the novel is an effective method of engaging the reader, which then helps prove to the reader that Thomas is trying to express the emotions of the characters, such as, being terrified, being in shock, and the feeling of being helpless, to allow the reader to be more attached to the characters. In the novel, Thomas also applies various figurative languages to bring the novel to life, such as similes, metaphors, and so on.

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Additionally, Thomas exerts various figurative language such as similes, metaphors, personification, and so on to draw connections between the after effects that Khalils’ death such as the riots and protests concerning the issue of police brutality. In respect of Khalils’ death, the community went on a protest which then turned into a riot which in turn brought back memories to Starr because “It sounds like the Fourth of July behind us; pop after pop after pop (Thomas 257).” The use of this simile impacts the way the reader views Starr because the riots reminded her about Khalils’ death even though that was the reason for the protest. But, this is also a striking comparison between the sadness and confusion of the riots, and happiness during the Fourth of July celebration. The simile also emphasizes the violence of the occasion by drawing a similarity between the flares and fireworks, which are often very loud and frightening. Thomas also exerts simile when Starr was on her way to the courthouse and saw all the press and journalist outside to the point that she thought it “looks like the circus is setting up in town (Thomas 217).” Thomas uses the simile of a circus to describe the amount of media trucks that surrounded the courthouse. This simile also reflects the national attention that cases of police shooting such as Khalil’s receive. It also reflects how much Starr had to overcome to testify to the grand jury. She felt the pressure of an entire community on her shoulders, because she was the main one fighting in Khalils’ case against police brutality. Just as Thomas uses figurative language, tone and diction was also a major aspect of the novel.

Although Thomas uses a lot of tone in the novel, the main tone in the novel was cautious. When Starr and Khalil were being pulled over, all Starr was thinking about was what her parents told her to do and not to do if she ever got pulled over and hoped that Khalils’ parents did the same, “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. I hope somebody had the talk with Khalil.”(Thomas 20). Khalil’s shooting is also described in intensive languages that emphasize the terror and horror of the situation. His blood is described as spraying from his body as he jerks around and his eyes go lifeless when he passes away, “ Khalil’s body jerks. Blood splatters from his back. . . His body stiffens, and he’s gone (Thomas 20).” The minimalist description, coupled with horrific imagery, clearly conveys the tragedy of the situation, which left Starr very heartbroken. It was not until after Khalil died that Starr began to start to show people that she could stand out as the person to get justice for Khalil.

Thomas was very effective in demonstrating the ongoing issue of police brutality. The novel also represents how ineffective the United States justice system is in relation to people of color. Police brutality, which is the abuse of authority by the unwarranted infliction of excessive force by personnel involved in law enforcement while performing their official duties, still goes on in today’s society, police still using unnecessary force against people of color, and racially profiling them. The message of the novel is still relevant in today’s society because the issue of police brutality and racism still exist. Although citizens are allowed to use force to defend themselves from police brutality as long as that brutality is used in an illegal way, the U.S. justice system would still always find a reason or way to put the person who killed the officer away. Citizens are allowed to use lethal force to preserve their lives from any criminal. Police, by legal definition, present lethal force or the potential of lethal force, at all times while on duty. In conclusion, the novel conveys the message of police brutality in a very enticing way that would make readers more interested in the issues regarding police brutality.

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Police Brutality in The Hate U Give. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved August 8, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/police-brutality-in-the-hate-u-give/
“Police Brutality in The Hate U Give.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/police-brutality-in-the-hate-u-give/
Police Brutality in The Hate U Give. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/police-brutality-in-the-hate-u-give/> [Accessed 8 Aug. 2022].
Police Brutality in The Hate U Give [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 16 [cited 2022 Aug 8]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/police-brutality-in-the-hate-u-give/
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