Study Guide

Daddy/Jonathan Green/Evan Thomas in hush

By Jacqueline Woodson

Daddy/Jonathan Green/Evan Thomas

Like Mama, Daddy defines himself through his work. His struggle is especially hard, though, because not only are his actions the reason his family winds up in witness protection, but he also loses his faith in what it means to be a cop. In making the choice to testify against two of his fellow law enforcement officers, Daddy had to choose between protecting his family or maintaining the honor code between cops. Ugh. No wonder he has such a hard time.

A Cop Among Cops

As a cop in Denver, Daddy is strong and brave. In fact, Toswiah/Evie chooses to write her school essay about "the most beautiful thing she's ever seen" on the sight of him in his dress uniform:

When I started writing, it was about my father, the year he won the police department's Medal for Bravery for rescuing a mother and her baby son from a man who was holding them hostage. He'd been a cop all of my life, and I had never really thought much about what he did or what it meant. On the morning of the ceremony, my father wore his other uniform—a dark jacket with a leather belt, brass buttons and gold epaulets at the shoulders. When he walked into the living room, my sister and I stopped fighting over the TV remote and stared at him. We had never seen him dressed this way, and he looked like the tallest, proudest, most beautiful man that ever lived. (4.1)

It might seem like an odd choice for an essay, but Toswiah/Evie's description reveals just how much she admires and reveres her father.

Justice League

Daddy is a man of deep principles, which is what leads him to choose to testify against the officers involved in the shooting, despite the consequences:

[H]e said over and over, Something's got to be done, Toswiah. It isn't justice. It isn't right. (4.10)

This concern over right and wrong defines Daddy's character. It's what inspires him in his everyday work as a cop and what leads him to testify against his fellow officers. While it's definitely a positive aspect of his character, it also becomes dangerous for him when the consequences of standing up for what's right take away his and his family's entire lives as they've known them.

Dive Into Depression

Daddy is the only member of the family who doesn't find anything to fill the void leaving Denver carves into him, so he spirals into a deep depression. Toswiah explains:

He smelled like dirty clothes. I swallowed. He'd never smelled this way before. His hair was grown out and uncombed and his hands trembled when he hugged me. When he'd first started being this way, the Feds had given Mama the name of a therapist to take him to. But Daddy stopped going or Mama stopped taking him—I don't know which. I hugged him tighter. He was right there but slipping away from me. (14.13)

Daddy is really falling apart, right? Compare this description to the one earlier of him in his dress uniform. It's a major shift. After the crisis point of Daddy's suicide attempt, though, he turns a corner and begins to improve. His brush with death helps him realize just how glad he is to be alive:

My father looks at me. He seems confused for a moment, but then his smile comes. Slowly. But it comes. The old smile. Daddy's smile. It creeps up from his face like all those memories of our days before here and all those sweet promises—a lot of promise—of what's ahead of us. (28.32)

Daddy is the anchor of the family, so when he finally turns a corner and makes it clear that he will be okay, Toswiah/Evie is able to clearly look to the future, too. A lot has changed since they left Denver, but she has her rock back.

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