Setting

The story is set in Harlem in the midst of drug runners and winos. Much of the action takes place in the family apartment—the place where Jamal's older brother Randy was arrested by the police, where the family lives with the barest necessities, where Sassy and Jamal bicker, and where their father comes on rare occasions and lowers Jamal's self esteem. In contrast, the apartment where Tito and his grandmother live is a safe haven, a place of warmth, love, and good food.

Jamal has to deal with a bully every day at school where the teachers are insensitive, arrogant, and derogatory. The storeroom of the school is the scene of Jamal's confrontation with Dwayne. It is here that Jamal realizes the power of the gun to equalize the odds.

Part of the conflict takes place in a crack house where the Scorpions vie for leadership of the gang, and Jamal takes over because of the gun in his belt. There is also a park where drug addicts and winos lie around. High on drugs, Indian and Angel try to kill Jamal with a switchblade there, and Tito's life is changed forever when he shoots two of the Scorpions.

The place of dreams for the future is the boat dock. The boys go there to admire the yachts and to think of growing up, owning, racing, and sailing them to Puerto Rico. It is a place to get away from the problems of their own neighborhood and a place to think.

(The entire section is 252 words.)