The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas
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How does Starr's attitude towards police change over the course of the novel?

Starr's attitude towards police changes from a stance of compliance to a stance of criticism. When she witnesses an act of police brutality, she becomes a vocal activist against such violence.

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In Angie Thomas's novel The Hate U Give, protagonist Starr Carter’s view of the world changes drastically from beginning to end, and her view of law enforcement is no exception. She moves from a position of compliance to one of criticism and activism.

When Starr first interacts with...

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In Angie Thomas's novel The Hate U Give, protagonist Starr Carter’s view of the world changes drastically from beginning to end, and her view of law enforcement is no exception. She moves from a position of compliance to one of criticism and activism.

When Starr first interacts with law enforcement, she and Khalil are driving home from a party when Khalil is pulled over. As she waits for the officer to approach the car, she is reminded of something her daddy told her: “If you’re with somebody, you better hope they don’t got nothin on them, or both y’all going down.” Starr turns to Khalil, a childhood friend whom she knows to have gang ties, and asks him if he has anything in the car. He says that he doesn’t and they should be safe, but when the office approaches and asks for his license and registration, Khalil breaks a rule and asks why he was pulled over rather than doing as he was asked. In this moment, Starr’s description of their interaction shows that she believes that if she and Khalil only follow the rules and do exactly as the office says, they will be in the clear. She believes that if she just follows the advice that her father has given her, they will be alright. When she perceives that Khalil has challenged this rule, she asks him to follow the officer's instructions. She refuses to question authority and insists on doing exactly as the officer asks.

The interaction ultimately ends in Khalil’s death, which is the incident that sends Starr off on her path to seek justice for her dear friend. Whereas she favored compliance at the beginning of the novel, Starr becomes the face for justice against the officer that wrongfully shot and killed her friend. In the scene in which Starr takes the megaphone and speaks to the crowd in her neighborhood, she reminds the crowd of the rules that children of color are taught in order to survive a racially unjust system. She then reminds the crowd that Khalil did nothing wrong. After his murder, he was publicly portrayed as a gang member who had it coming, but Starr knew that this narrative was wrong. She knew that this portrayal, this slander of her friend, was all in an attempt to save face for a cop who shot an innocent boy for the color of his skin.

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