Study Guide

Leticia in Jumped

By Rita Williams-Garcia

Leticia

Leticia is one of our three main narrators, and she gets the lion's share of the chapters. While she neither throws nor receives any punches, the fight that haunts this book arguably hinges on her decision not to do anything to stop it from happening, though she knows about it all day.

What Do We Want? Dra-ma! When Do We Want It? NOW!

Okay, there's no union picket line in the novel, but if Leticia had a chant, this would be it. She skips out on parts of class in search of gossip or because she wants to spread gossip—girl loves herself some gossip. So much so, in fact, that she even instigates a fight between her best friend, Bea, and Bea's boyfriend:

Just before Jay sighed his dodged-the-bullet sigh of relief, I asked, "So, Jay. What did you have to tell Krystal you had to be in her lip gloss?"

Pay dirt! Jay was not loving me at that moment. "Mind your business, Leticia, and let me mind mine." (9.19-20)

A good show, whether on television or in real life, is far more important to Leticia than her friend's happiness or even the truth. In the above excerpt, she pokes at the problem, fueling it instead of letting Bea and Jay handle things for themselves. On some level this seems to stem from an inflated sense of self-importance. Leticia's all about minding her own business, which sounds great at first, but is really a hot mess since she thinks pretty much everything is her business. Check it out:

Because what should Leticia have done in the first place? Minded her own business. Half the turmoil brewing happens because so-and-so didn't do what? Mind her business. (13.5)

Given how she's all up in Bea and Jay's business all the time, though, and searches out other people's business instead of going to class, it becomes clear that the turf that Letitia considers hers is pretty vast. So when she uses the excuse of minding her own business to avoid taking responsibility for telling Trina about Dominique's intentions, we can recognize that this is less about keeping to herself and more about enjoying some juicy drama. She feels responsible for her own amusement more than letting people sort things out between themselves.

No Personal Accountability

Speaking of responsibility… Leticia has none. Zip. Zero. Zilch. It's kind of disgusting. She blames everyone else for problems that are totally within her control. The French class she's stuck in? Leticia never opened her mail. That zero hour class she has to come to? She failed Geometry all by herself.

Leticia is all about minimal effort. She only responds to her teacher's question in English class because she knows that after she does, she can sit back and do nothing. And when a guidance counselor asks if Leticia has ever done anything difficult, Leticia responds with this:

"No," I tell her outright. "I avoid doing difficult things. Difficult doesn't do me any good." (14.15)

If there's a passage to mark when it comes to Leticia, Shmoopers, this is it. It may very well be the most honest we ever see her.

Hypocrite to the Nth Degree

We have such hope for Leticia at first—she has the chance to really do some good. But once she breaks her nail, we pretty much lose that hope. Because here is Leticia's response to her broken nail:

"Someone's got to pay," I tell her. "Someone's got to take responsibility. This cost money. This happened here and you're the adult in charge. What are you going to do about this, Ms. Capito?" (17.37)

When something bad happens to Leticia, it's never her fault. It never crosses her mind that, perhaps, her nails aren't super conducive to playing volleyball. Instead, Leticia shifts the blame to the person she thinks bears the responsibility. We kind of want to shake her and say, "You! You need to do something about this nail! About Trina! About your life!" We're not thinking it would go over well, though. The world is here for her enjoyment, and when life isn't fun, well, that's the world's fault, too.

Daddy's Little Manipulator

Though we don't get a lot of insight into why Leticia is the way she is, it's pretty easy to see that the relationship she has with her father has probably contributed to her entitled, self-centered nature. Usually, in her thoughts, Leticia refers to her parents as Bridgette and Bernie. But when her nail breaks and she calls them, the waterworks come out. She calls her mother Mommy, but thank goodness Bridgette sees right through Leticia's story.

"But I can't write or hold nothing in this hand."

"You're holding the phone, aren't you?"

"Mommy."

"Deal. It's only temporary, 'Ticia." (19.32-35)

Too bad Bridgette doesn't have the foresight to call her husband. Leticia is probably really used to playing her parents against one another, because when she calls Bernie, he does exactly what Leticia wants, sacrificing his own day for his super spoiled daughter. It's funny, kind of, but it's also really sad.

We desperately want Leticia to do the right thing and either tell Trina or an adult about the impending violence. But she doesn't, and the point of her narration throughout the novel is to reveal to us why she doesn't: She is passive to the core. And if she shifts responsibility about all the small things in her life to other people, what would make us think that she'd take responsibility for this one big thing? Yet we hope and we hope, until there is no hope left. Leticia can't believe the story by the end of the novel. And we can't believe her either.