Beliefs – Vagus Truman, Grade 10

This literary essay is written by one of my grade 10 students. In his essay, he shows a thorough understanding of why Starr, the main character, feels the need to rise against the injustices that she witnesses in society. He also makes relevant connections to the points raised and ends the essay with a valid so-what statement.



Beliefs are crucial to face the harsh world we live in. In the novel, The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, the unfair life story of black Canadians is told by a suburban girl who has faced many conflicts, such as murder, unjust laws, and racism. Although the story is one that pulls many heartstrings, its message and ‘bigger picture’ is cathartic in the sense of justice, with the protagonist, Starr Amara Carter, standing up for her beliefs in equality and justice, despite the negative reactions from both the media and her community. Starr is motivated to stand up for her beliefs as she does not want to feel regret or self-betrayal later in life, wishes to gain confidence in her actions, and would like to live in an environment that is aligned with her beliefs. 

One who does not stand up for their own beliefs will feel regret and self-betrayal later in life. Starr, fueled with the guilt of concealing the truth of Natasha’s death, is a prime example of this archetype. Khalil Harris was dear to Starr. His death devastated her and given the fact that it was a wrongful death sends her through the roof. Fueled with the guilt of the past, she decides to defend her friend, never backing down. Having revealed the truth on live television, she feels her guilt slowly fading away and being replaced with motivation and ultimately pride. Her statement, “Khalil would defend me. I should defend him” (Thomas, 287) shows that Starr feels a sense of responsibility for representing Khalil both as a friend and as a lover. Having reached a sense of closure, Starr finds a release of guilt and betrayal. Through the course of the story, one realizes the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs in order to not feel guilty and repentant later on in life. 

When people stand up for their beliefs, they feel confident in their actions. Starr’s confidence to ensure Khalil’s justice is derived from her own beliefs and grows from her committing to those beliefs. The fear of letting a dark secret out has always haunted Starr ever since she witnessed her friend Natasha die at the hands of a King Lord. Since she was afraid to get attacked for snitching, she kept quiet for a long time. Now that another one of her friends has been murdered without anyone knowing the truth, she does not hold back and proceeds to ‘snitch’ on the police officer who caused the murder, but that is not enough for her. Utilizing the confidence she has gained over time, she then targets the media for thinking ill of Khalil, and finally, the reason Khalil sold drugs. “Although [King’s] threat was loud in my head, it’s not nearly as loud as what Kenya said that day at the store” (Thomas 287) displays that the courage and confidence Starr has obtained has overwhelmed the fear from the death threat from the notorious King. What once drove her to fear has been rendered as an empty threat, as Starr’s confidence in her actions and beliefs has turned her from a reluctant and fearful girl into a strong independent public speaker. One finds oneself more confident and strong when they stand up for their own beliefs. Starr utilizes that thought process to support herself and to ensure Khalil’s justice throughout the story.

By standing up for one’s beliefs, one can build a society that is more aligned with one’s beliefs. People prefer to live in an environment that favours their beliefs; however, such a society cannot exist unless people transform society by persistently advocating for their beliefs. A prime example of such persistent advocacy is how women gained equal rights after centuries of activism. In a patriarchal society, where women’s wishes were shunned, women kept fighting for their rights until they could change the society into one where they are treated equally. Another example is the LGBTQ community. In a homophobic world where different sexual orientations are demonized, the members of the LGBTQ community have had to fight an unfair battle to transform the conventions in order to make a society where they are welcome as well. In The Hate U Give, Starr wishes for black people to not be profiled as just thugs and gangsters, and she, through public speaking, attempts to change the society she lives in with the support of many in hope of developing a community where there will no longer be any police brutality on black people. Standing up for one’s beliefs will ultimately transform the society that one lives into one that welcomes one’s beliefs and values as well.  

Standing up for one’s beliefs can bring about changes not only in oneself but also in one’s society. The courage to advocate for what one believes in will not only prevent the debilitating sense of guilt but also nourish one’s confidence, ultimately leading one to win the battle of bias and prejudice. It is by persistent advocacy and activism that the society will ultimately budge and expand its belief system to include the new beliefs and values. In fact, the reason why Canada is relatively a much better place for many communities to live in is that activists from these communities have not shied away from voicing their beliefs publicly.