How is Malaka different from Romiette in Romiette and Julio?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Malaka is different from Romiette in a couple of ways.  The first is in their backgrounds.  While they were friends at one point in time, Malaka's parents split up, and she had to move to another part of town.  As a result, she became a bit more "hardened," in terms of embracing drinking, gang activities, and a more social construction of identity at the cost of her own notion of the good.  This makes her fundamentally different than Romiette, whose parents were able to instill in her a compass to her identity where she was able to act in her own name.  This action led her to reject social notions of the good when it collided with her self- interest, something that Malaka would not do.  Such a difference highlights their own view towards human beings.   Malaka sees people as a means to an end, while Romiette sees people as ends in their own right.

Malaka's association with the Devildogs is another difference between both characters.  Malaka embraces the collective notion of the good, even going as far as intimidating Romiette for her feelings towards Julio.  In this light, it is clear that Malaka is fundamentally different than Romiette.  Her embrace of sectarian and dogmatic notions of the good are different than the pluralist inclusivity that Romiette shows.  In other words, Malaka represents the world of "what is."  She embodies divisiveness, territoriality, and exclusion.  Romiette represents the transformative capacity of "what can be."  She embodies inclusivity, risk- taking, and the idea that people are more than their binary associations.  In this regard, both characters are fundamentally different from one another because of their belief systems.