Dear Martin Summary & Study Guide

Stone, Nic
This Study Guide consists of approximately 65 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Dear Martin.
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Dear Martin Summary & Study Guide Description

Dear Martin Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Dear Martin by Stone, Nic.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Stone, Nic. Dear Martin. New York, Crown Books for Young Reads (PRH), 2017. HC.

Justyce borrows his friend’s hoodie to go rescue his drunk ex-girlfriend Melo. When he tries to lift the half-black girl into her car, Officer Castillo handcuffs him and slams him to the ground for attacking a white woman, citing his hoodie as proof of bad intentions. Justyce writes a letter to Martin Luther King Jr. (“Martin”) to express his anger that despite his prep school scholarship and Ivy League ambitions, the police officer saw him as just a black thug. Justyce starts paying attention to the ongoing legal case for Shemar Carson, shot and killed by a cop months before.

Justyce’s wealthy friend Manny warns him away from the toxic Melo, but their conversation is interrupted by Manny’s mother: his cousin Quan has killed a police officer. In class that week, Justyce’s favorite teacher, Doc, encourages the class to discuss racial inequality in light of recent events. Manny’s white friend Jared argues that the U.S. has achieved full racial equality, while Justyce’s white friend SJ uses statistics and logic to refute him. Justyce walks out.

On Halloween, it is ironic that Jared convinces his friends and Justyce to dress up as stereotypes. Justyce dresses as a “Thug,” and Manny as a “Token Black Guy” (40). Their white friends come as rednecks, surfers, and yuppies. Everyone is uncomfortable when Blake dresses as a Klansman. Threatening gun violence, the Black Jihad gang from Justyce’s neighborhood confronts the group and kicks them out of the party. After the party, Justyce phones SJ and tells her everything, including his Martin project and his doubts about belonging. SJ listens with a supportive ear. Justyce finds her attractive and intelligent, but his mother would never accept a white girlfriend. When he receives his Yale acceptance a week later, however, he phones SJ first. At school the next day, SJ jumps into Justyce’s arms. Melo confronts Justyce about SJ. Justyce insists they are only friends. Everyone congratulates Justyce on his acceptance except Jared, who starts a hostile class discussion about affirmative action, revealing his belief that Justyce does not deserve Yale.

Manny once again cautions Justyce that SJ is perfect for him and prejudice is not consistent with the Martin project. A month later, Justyce breaks up with Melo again. He and SJ win the state debate tournament in an advanced pairs argument about racial profiling. In his excitement, Justyce decides to kiss SJ. Instead, she turns her head and avoids him for weeks.

Justyce stews about SJ and the news of another police shooting of a black teen. Manny convinces Justyce to go to Blake’s birthday party as a distraction. Justyce gets very drunk, and the racist decorations at Blake’s house anger him. When Blake asks for his and Manny’s help seducing a black girl, Justyce punches Blake and Jared. Then, Justyce accuses Manny of being just like them. He wakes up in the morning with a hangover and Doc knocking on his dorm room door. Doc, who is mixed-race, tells stories of the prejudice he faced while pursuing his PhD. He encourages Justyce to work for himself and not the opinion of others.

Over that weekend, Manny acknowledges how much he has let slide. When Jared makes a slavery joke, he fights him and thanks Justyce for opening his eyes. That night, Manny’s father tells the boys that despite his vice presidency in a financial corporation, he still overhears racial slurs. He wishes he had prepared Manny to face injustice. Jared’s family presses assault charges, enraging Manny. He and Justyce listen to loud rap music, and when a white driver uses racial slurs and yells, Manny turns it up. The white driver, off-duty police officer Garret Tison, fires three shots that kill Manny and critically injure Justyce. Justyce stops writing letters to Martin.

A month after Manny’s funeral, Justyce visits Manny’s parents. They want to celebrate Tison’s indictment, but they also give Justyce a family heirloom watch that was supposed to be Manny’s eighteenth birthday gift. Soon after, Justyce visits Manny’s cousin Quan in juvenile. Quan reveals that the police officer he allegedly shot was Officer Castillo, who was also Tison’s partner. Quan urges Justyce to contact Marcel, the Black Jihad leader, who will welcome and support him.

The news releases the photo of Justyce dressed as a thug for Halloween as proof of criminality. When Manny’s father is forced to resign from his company for participating in a peaceful protest, Justyce does go visit Marcel. He relaxes and tells Marcel his whole story. The gang members tell Justyce that punching Blake at the party shows he is one of them, but Justyce runs straight to SJ. Her parents welcome him, and he and SJ declare their feelings for each other.

A few weeks later, arsonists attack Tison’s house. At Justyce’s commencement, police officers approach to question him. His mother tries to deflect them, but Justyce agrees to answer questions since he is innocent. The police officers learn about his visit to Marcel, though he denies knowledge of the arson. His alibi for the night of the arson reveals his relationship with SJ to his mother. They fight, and she cries and insists she cannot give her blessing.

At the trial, the defense attorney ignores context to insist that Justyce and Manny have a history of violence and gang connections. The jury returns a guilty verdict for lesser offenses but needs a retrial on the felony murder charge. Two weeks later, however, Tison is killed in his jail cell before he can be sentenced.

After moving in to Yale, Justyce decides that his Martin experiment failed because he needs to find who he is before he can stand strong in his identity. Four months later, he meets Jared at Manny’s grave. They discuss their mutual acquaintances at Yale and their ongoing grief for Manny. Jared has switched to civil rights law, with a minor in African American Studies. Jared and Justyce make tentative plans to spend time together.

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