In Rita Williams-Garcia's One Crazy Summer, if the book has a villain, why was his or her punishment justified?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One villain found in Rita Williams-Garcia's novel One Crazy Summer is Crazy Kelvin. When the three young protagonists--sisters Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern--first meet him, he appears to be very devoted to the Black Panthers' cause, an Africa-American revolutionary group whose first goal was to protect African Americans from police brutality (Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Black Panther Party"). He even wears a T-shirt that says "OFF THE PIG," which means kill the policeman, and berates young Fern for carrying a doll who has blond hair and blue eyes. Based on his berating speech to Fern, the reader would expect Crazy Kelvin to believe that in carrying a doll who models white perfection, Fern is showing the world what she wishes she looked like; she is carrying "self-hatred around in [her] arms" (p. 65).

However, while riding the bus into San Fransisco, Fern observes what she later informs the reader of by reading her own poem at the Black Panther rally. In her poem, she exposes Crazy Kelvin as a traitor. She had witnessed Crazy Kelvin talking with a police officer, who then "pat[ted] him on the back like he was the policeman's dog" (p. 204). One can surmise from this that Kelvin was providing the policeman with information about the Black Panthers, most likely so that the policeman can make an arrest; Crazy Kelvin is actually a spy. However, though the Black Panthers surround Kelvin as soon as they hear Fern's poem, Kelvin is actually whisked away to safety by his policemen friends, thus escaping punishment.

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One Crazy Summer

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