Study Guide

Jumped Themes

By Rita Williams-Garcia

  • Violence

    Even though the violence in Jumped only really occurs on one page at the end of the story, the threat of violence and effects of violence permeate the whole book. Violence is, to Dominique, a solution to the perceived slight on her reputation. Really, though, the reason Dominique attacks Trina has to do with misdirected anger and a search for control. So violence functions as an outlet for anger that should be directed elsewhere.

    Plus, the one-sided fight isn't something that the students condemn. Instead, they crowd around and view the fight as entertainment, as something to relish and savor. The lead up to the attack and the attack itself are just drama—fun when it happens to someone else, but dangerous when it gets personal.

    Questions About Violence

    1. Why doesn't Leticia try to stop Dominique from jumping Trina?
    2. Why does Dominique really attack Trina? (Hint: It's not because Trina brushed by her in the hallway.) Think about why Dominique is actually mad and why Dominique says she's attacking Trina.
    3. What are the effects of the fight on Dominique and Trina? What are the broader effects of the fight? Think about Leticia, Bea, and the school itself.

    Chew on This

    Dominique isn't the only one to blame for the violent attack; the spectators are equally as responsible.

    Dominique isn't to blame for her actions; she's simply finding an outlet for the aggression and anger that has naturally built up inside of her.

  • Passivity

    Some people survive high school by taking center stage, but others just want to disappear in the crowd. And life is sure a lot easier flying under the radar. Take Leticia in Jumped. Nothing is ever Leticia's fault: not her zero hour, not her being stuck in French class, and especially not Dominique's attack on Trina. Or…is it?

    Yeah, Leticia's pretty much the classic bystander, inactive and passive to the core, but because Leticia is the only one who witnesses Dominique's intent to jump Trina (other than Shayne and Viv, Dominique's girls), she has some responsibility for preventing the attack. But Leticia is really good at convincing herself to do nothing, and her inaction partially causes the after-school attack. So even though Leticia's not the only passive character, her passivity has the furthest reaching implications.

    Questions About Passivity

    1. To what extent is Leticia's passivity the fault of self-involved behavior that naturally occurs in teenagers? The fault of her character and personality?
    2. Other than Leticia, who is the most passive of characters in the novel? Why?
    3. To what extent are Shayne and Viv responsible for the attack? Why don't they try to talk Dominique out of it?

    Chew on This

    Leticia's passivity makes her as responsible as Dominique for the damage done to Trina by the end of the novel.

    The passivity of the teachers and other students excuses Leticia's passive nature.

  • Women and Femininity

    It's hard to be a girl in Jumped. In the novel, girls are expected to be flighty, fashion-conscious, and socially adept. And high school is a dangerous place to break these expectations. Trina is a little too cute and feminine, which annoys some people around her to no end, while Leticia is all about style and clothes and gossip. For her part, Dominique doesn't fit any role of what girls "should" be—not in dress, values, or behavior—and she's the girl who most pushes the boundaries of how society defines femininity in Jumped.

    Questions About Women and Femininity

    1. How is Dominique's temper and aggression entangled with expectations of womanhood? Where do the two converge and diverge? And should readers condemn Dominique for her somewhat masculine traits or celebrate her differences from the social norm? Why?
    2. How are social expectations in Jumped similar to and different from social expectations in high school in real life?
    3. What does Trina think about girls who aren't girly-girls? Why might she think this, and does her opinion justify what happens to her?

    Chew on This

    When Dominique destroys Trina's physical appearance, Trina loses what makes her a woman.

    The teachers in the novel perpetuate the definitions of womanhood that exist within the student body.

  • Respect and Reputation

    Anyone who's ever set foot in high school knows the importance of reputation. We may have tried to avoid the drama, rumor-mongering, and gossip that comes part and parcel with the high school experience, but chances are that we've seen or maybe even been caught up in some drama.

    Respect and reputation are at the core of what causes Dominique to decide to attack Trina in Jumped. Dominique's primary philosophy is, "don't get in my space, and I won't get in yours" both figuratively and literally. Once she feels slighted, she thinks the only way to regain her reputation is to retaliate. Except the only people who know what Trina did are Dominique's two friends.

    Reputation is also what prevents Leticia from making the Dominique-Trina line into a triangle. She doesn't want to be labeled as a snitch or become part of a piece of dramatic theater based on hearsay. And in some ways, it's hard for us to categorically condemn Leticia and Dominique for their actions when we know the importance of reputation. This is high school, after all.

    Questions About Respect and Reputation

    1. Would Dominique have reacted the same way if Shayne and Viv had not been with her? Why or why not?
    2. Why does Bea call the whole matter "trifling" and how does the situation escalate from trifling to violent?
    3. Dominique got suspended the year before. Trina transferred into the school. Do these events have any bearing on the reputations of these girls? Why or why not?
    4. Leticia refuses to tell Trina in part because she doesn't want to get involved with the drama. How can gossip and drama affect someone's reputation?

    Chew on This

    If Leticia told Trina or a teacher about Dominique's intentions, Leticia would have lost her reputation.

    Dominique's reputation comes from her passion for basketball, so when she loses her minutes, she loses her reputation.

  • Society and Class

    In many ways, the social workings of high school prepare us for how life beyond high school works. There are the haves, the have nots, and everyone who falls in between. Unfortunately, high school can mimic real life too much. People with high social standing want to keep others who want to join the group (Trina) out; people in authority (teachers) think they have social power, but they might not; people on the fringes seek to improve their standing by trading information (Leticia); and threats have the ability to make or break a person's social status (Dominique).

    In the end, nothing changes for the school or the characters in it in Jumped, and that doesn't really bode well for life beyond high school for any of the main characters.

    Questions About Society and Class

    1. Who has more social power—Dominique or Leticia? Why?
    2. Even though it seems like the teachers and adults should be at the top of the social food chain, they aren't. Who is, and why is this the case?
    3. How does money or lack of money affect the three female narrators' world views?
    4. How does each narrator seek to improve her social status in the novel?

    Chew on This

    By jumping Trina, Dominique has improved her social capital at the school.

    If Leticia had told Trina about the threat, Leticia would have decreased her social standing at the school.

  • Lies and Deceit

    Lies to friends. Lies to teachers. Lies to oneself. Jumped is full of half-truths, lies of omission, and straight up lies. Most difficult of all to untangle are the lies the narrators tell themselves, though. Dominique believes she doesn't have a temper, Leticia thinks she bears no responsibility in pretty much anything, and Trina prances about like she's the queen bee of the school. None of these are totally true, but all have a grain of truth in them. It's a scary thing to be frank with oneself, and none of our characters are mature enough to really do so.

    Questions About Lies and Deceit

    1. Is lying necessary to survive in high school in Jumped?
    2. Which is the worst lie someone tells themselves in the novel, and why?
    3. Do you think the adults in the school are aware of the teens' antics, or are they, too, deceiving themselves about what really happens in high school?

    Chew on This

    The biggest liar in the novel is Trina.

    The most honest character of the three leading ladies is Dominique—and by a long shot, too.

  • Choices

    Jumped seems like it's a cautionary tale about violence in schools, but it's really a novel about the choices the characters make. Probably one of the most obvious choices is Leticia's decision to tell or not to tell Trina about Dominique's threat. But really, each choice that a character makes—and the options that a character considers—reveals a little more to us about who they are.

    Trina doesn't have to stomp with the Boosters, for instance, but she makes that choice to try to get in with the popular group. And even little choices that the characters make help us gain a fuller picture of them, like Leticia's decision to not open her mail… which gets her the resulting zero hour class and lands her in French.

    Unfortunately, most of the characters don't understand the full range of the choices they can make. Dominique doesn't have to jump Trina, but she feels like she does, while Bea tries to get Leticia to tell Trina about the threat, but never calls the school administration herself when Leticia refuses to. It's the choices that people make that ultimately lead to the attack, and while we hope that the characters will learn to make better choices, they don't, and that's a big part of what Jumped is really about.

    Questions About Choices

    1. Whose choices in Jumped are the most destructive, and what makes you say this?
    2. How responsible are the teachers for Trina's injuries based on the choices they make—Coach not bending her rules, Hershheiser not willing to talk to Dominique?
    3. Why don't the characters learn from the decisions they've made?
    4. How do the characters' choices affect the larger community of the school?

    Chew on This

    Leticia's choice not to tell Trina about Dominique's intent is entirely justified.

    Dominique had no other option than to jump Trina after school.

  • Versions of Reality

    Throughout Jumped, we get three distinct versions of reality. And each one is unreliable. Trina thinks that she's more popular than she actually is, Leticia shirks any form of personal accountability, and Dominique considers herself justified in responding to Trina's invasion of her space by beating Trina literally within an inch of her life. As readers, we only start to get the whole picture when we smush all three perspectives together.

    Even scarier, though, is the moment when we as readers realize that each character wholeheartedly believes her perspective. It makes us wonder (1) why these characters believe their truths, (2) what the truth really is, and (3) if there even is one truth. It's a lot more complicated than we would think high school might be. Or, come to think of it, exactly as complicated as we remember high school being.

    Questions About Versions of Reality

    1. Which perspective of the events of the school day is the least skewed and most truthful? What makes you say this?
    2. Of Trina, Dominique, and Leticia, which one is the most delusional? Which girl takes the most responsibility for her actions?
    3. How might AP Shelton describe the events of the day if he were asked?
    4. Why might it be to Leticia's benefit to manipulate what she saw in the morning and blow it out of proportion?

    Chew on This

    Ivan is the only reliable narrator in Jumped.

    Trina will never understand why she was attacked because the only one who holds that truth is Dominique.