Trina is probably the hardest girl to get to know of the three female narrators. This is fitting since, though the story swirls around the violence that awaits her, Trina is kept in the dark about the fate looming at the end of her school day. We know her the least, just as she knows the least about the plot as it unfolds.
We're not the only ones who don't know Trina well, though: Trina doesn't even really know who she is. And when a teacher gives her students the opportunity for self-reflection, Trina almost writes something true. Instead, she only thinks it:
But she still doesn't tell you who your father is and what he is.
You still don't know how your own DNA coil is wrapped. You still don't know zip about that missing part of you or where he is. (12.23-24)
On the page, however, Trina retreats into superficiality. She writes:
"Can you imagine not looking like this? Not being like this? No. I'm complete. Life is good." I make sure I write that: Life is good. (12.26)
This statement pretty much says it all about Trina. She's continually focused on her looks and on how other people look, and few people can measure up to her exacting physical standards. We suspect that she has hidden depths she hasn't explored yet based on this journal prompt and her artistic eye, but she hides behind who she thinks women should be. It's just a hunch, but this may somehow be tied into not knowing her dad—like, if only she can be properly female she'll be accepted. We're really not sure, though.
Trina thinks that she is well-liked, even well-loved, and that she brings people smiles and colors. But we get the sense that Trina thinks more of herself than other people may think of her. For instance:
I brighten his day. He'll smile from now until 2:45. Why? Because that's what I do. Bring a little joy to someone's drab, dull day. That's right. I bring color to this school. (5.23)
There is some truth to her statement. When she talks to AP Shelton about flirting, she's actually funny, and she thinks she almost gets him to smile, and we think he might, too. And there are other clues that Trina might actually be somewhat accepted by her peers, too:
"How do they know what to do? Where to go? Every little piece breaks down to smaller and smaller pieces. Every little piece is something, does something. And those pieces get together and do it."
It's the way I said "do it" that has the class laughing. (8.26-27)
Maybe the class is laughing at her question, maybe not. It's possible the class is laughing at Trina, but they also may be laughing at her joke. The important thing is that Trina doesn't just disappear in school. She is visible, far more so than Leticia or Dominique. But then Trina goes and thinks this in art class:
They should have a new category in the yearbook when I graduate: Girl Most Secretly Sketched. Ivan doesn't know how blessed he is. Every person holding a charcoal pencil in this studio steals glances at our work table. (31.1)
Oh, the conceit. We get it: Trina is super self-centered and doesn't see much beyond herself—if anything, really. But this doesn't mean that she deserves what she gets in the end from Dominique (and, indirectly, Leticia) in the slightest.
Trina will be the first to describe herself as an artist. She loves color, sees color, and appreciates art. You know what she doesn't appreciate? Criticism. Especially when Ivan critiques her mural.
Ivan says, "That's wack."
Oh my God! My face is turning colors. I'm hot and sweating and it reminds me of my appendix bursting.
I don't let myself get hot and angry like this. I don't let people do that to me. Instead I do what I do when people hate on me. I turn them off, click, drown out their negativity, and tell myself loud, loud, loud I have talent and aptitude. (29.11-13)
Trina, who desperately needs validation and praise through most of her life, doesn't deal all that well with embarrassment. But, to her credit, she doesn't find her solution in violence, like Dominique does. Instead, Trina seeks the positivity in herself. And even though she might be kind of annoying, even though she might have a skewed view of herself, we can't help but appreciate her strategy for staying positive in life.
Chances are high that Dominique's attack destroyed this positivity, too.
They show her artwork and they talk about how beautiful and confident she once was. (35.16)
The key here is "was"—Trina is no longer beautiful or confident. Dominique didn't just hurt Trina physically; Trina has to recover mentally and emotionally, too, and even so, she'll never be the same. Given how hard she's already tried to find the positive in the past, here's hoping she doesn't get tired and give up.