47 pages 1 hour read

Jacqueline Woodson

After Tupac and D Foster

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2008

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Symbols & Motifs

Double Dutch

Content Warning: This section contains discussions of race, racism, racial identity, anti-gay bias, gun violence and fatalities, wrongful conviction/imprisonment, and the foster system.

Double Dutch is one of the most popular pastimes of the girls in the novel, and it functions as a symbol of the three girls’ friendship. The activity is especially fitting for a trio of friends, because it requires two people to turn the rope while one jumps. The kind of coordination and rhythm required to successfully jump Double Dutch and to switch jumpers in and out is a symbol of how close the narrator, Neeka, and D are. If one of them is absent, or if one makes a false step or skips a beat, the whole activity falls apart. The first time the girls meet D, Neeka tells her to come back the next time with a rope. They begin to jump Double Dutch and that allows them to connect without knowing very much about each other yet.

The three girls are not the only people jumping Double Dutch; it is a popular pastime for a lot of girls. They occasionally try to pass on their wisdom by teaching younger girls how to jump, but they are not coordinated enough to get it right.