The Hate U Give: Portrayal of Racism and Police Brutality in the Novel

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Themes and Character Development in The Hate U Give
  • Racism, Police Brutality, Language, and Unity
  • Stylistic Elements in The Hate U Give
  • Conclusion


I enjoyed reading the novel, The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas simply because it can connect to society effectively and relate to teenagers in a humorous way at the same time. Additionally, Angie Thomas successfully portrayed many powerful and relevant themes such as racism and police brutality, the power of language, and unity. It effectively communicates the issues of police brutality by showing an innocent teenager named Khalil getting murdered by a police officer named Brian Cruise and how it affects friends, family and a community. It represents the power of language and unity through Starr’s character development and how she is finally brave enough to speak for Khalil. 

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Themes and Character Development in The Hate U Give

However, Angie Thomas finds ways to show through all the conflict, pain and an imperfect society, happiness and love. Additionally, the language in which Angie Thomas chooses to present The Hate U Give” effectively connect to teenagers and represent typical teenager's preferences and dislikes at that age such as Jordans, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Drake, TuPac, etc. In conclusion, I enjoyed reading the novel, The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas due to how the themes and characters successfully stay relevant in modern society. Racism and Police Brutality against minorities is a severe societal issue that is frequently seen in North America. Police brutality involves the use of unnecessary force on the subject regardless if they are complying with the officer or not. Resistance movements have formed to oppose this such as the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Civil Rights Movement easily show how minorities in both the United States and Canada feel about the system designed against them. Many artists, celebrities and social activists such as Tupac, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were advocates of social equality and justice for minorities as seen through this quote by Tupac, “Listen! The Hate U Give Little Infants F-cks Everybody. T-H-U-G-L-I-F-E” (Thompson 17). 

Racism, Police Brutality, Language, and Unity

In the novel, The Hate U Give, Khalil’s death is the catalyst for the entire plot regarding the fight against racism and police brutality. It portrays how the system is designed against minorities which in turn lead them into a cycle of poverty and crime. In Indian Horse, racism and discrimination is seen through the entire assimilation system of the First Nations people to the racist chants and slurs towards Saul as a whole. The system is against Aboriginal communities as well, they were told that they are inhumane and their culture is dehumanizing. After they were told that, they felt as if they had no sense of place into Canadian society and fell into the cycle of poverty and crime which may have lead to addiction such as alcohol. Personally, I connected to the text, especially with “if the good outweighs the bad, I should keep Hailey as a friend. There's a sh-t ton of bad now… I can let go” (Thomas 433). Starr realizes that Hailey is a source of negativity and finally breaks her relationship with her. This quote represents the theme of racism and police brutality due to how Starr’s character development has shown Starr that Hailey is racist and supports the justification of Khalil’s death which results in the ending of their friendship. As a kid, I had many sources of negativity and I waited around for it to change. But, as I started to group up, I realized how much of an agony fake friends can be. I stopped giving them more chances and ended my relationships with them. I felt sad at first, however, after a while, I was mentally relieved. 

Stylistic Elements in The Hate U Give

Khalil’s shooting is described at the start of the novel by Starr. It is shown through intense language and figurative language such as an onomatopoeia, “Pow”, that evidently portrays the horror of the situation, “Pow! One. Khalil’s body jerks. Blood splatters from his back. He holds on to the door to keep himself upright. Pow! Two. Khalil gasps. Pow! Three. Khalil looks at me, stunned. He falls to the ground. “(Thompson 23). The horrific imagery and the onomatopoeia, “Pow!”, clearly conveys how traumatic the situation is and represent the theme of racism and police brutality. Chris’s House is described as an expensive and big house through his lavish lifestyle, “Most of Chris’s house looks too fancy to live in. Statue’s oil paintings, chandeliers. A museum more than a home” (Thomas 374). This detailed description and metaphor “A museum more than a home” in which Starr compares Chris’s house and belongings to a museum conveys Chris’s wealth and the contrast between Starr’s house and her Garden Height’s background. Angie Thomas used informal language to portray her ideas and thoughts. 


One of the main reasons for how The Hate U Give stands out is how well it connects to the youth and teenagers. The allusions present in The Hate U Give describes what many teenagers might prefer or dislike at that age. For example, through this allusion, Angie Thomas communicated what most teenagers might admire, shoes “Jordans - the Three Retros. They came out a few years ago, but I swear those things are so fresh” (Thomas 14). 

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