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Dan Chapman

Summary of Boyz n the Hood (1991): Directed by John Singleton

South Los Angeles in the 1980s

Boyz n the Hood takes us to South Los Angeles in the 1980s. The area is known for being home to the most populous black community in the country. South Los Angeles is the birthplace for many street gangs such as the Cribs and the Bloods, who rose in the 1970s due to poverty and street crimes in the area. The film begins by showing criminal statistics, including “one in twenty African Americans will die of murder” and “most of them will be killed by African-Americans.”

Single Parent

The film focuses on Tre, an African-American child who lives with his single mother. His mother decided to make him live with his single father to receive father discipline and guidance. Tre moved to South Central Los Angeles with his dad and was greeted with domestic chores to teach him how to be a responsible man. On the other hand, Tre’s friends who live across the street with their single mothers do not receive similar discipline and guidance. The lack of a father figure in his friends’ lives led them to street life and the delinquency that comes with it.

Black on Black Violence

On the first night of Tre in his father’s house, he witnessed his dad shooting at an intruder, who managed to escape. Then, they had to wait for the police who came late, and Tre’s father was treated disrespectfully by an African-American officer. The officer blamed the African-American people for the rise of crime and wished that the intruder was killed. All of this interaction was in front of Tre, which gives the young child a wicked perception of the police and the African-American people.

Another scene shows Tre and his friends playing in the neighborhood and finding a dead body. Then they were harassed by a group of Black juveniles and had their ball stolen from them. One of Tre’s friends decided he will go steal from a convenience store. Later, the police come to arrest his friend.

The film then moves seven years in the feature, and Tre is now a young adult preparing to go to college. A scene shows Tre and his friends enjoying a night out, then get harassed by a group of black guys, who then fired an automatic gun in the air to scare everybody. Tre and his friends ran away and stopped by the same black police officer who mistreated his dad seven years earlier. The officer harassed and intimidated Tre for no reason, then let him go. So far, Tre is locked in black on black violence, whether from neighbors, strangers in the city, or even law enforcement officers.

Athletic Scholarship

Tre’s friend Ricky is an aspiring football player and was scouted by a college for a scholarship. Ricky’s academic performance is not up to standards. He needed to score over 700 in the SAT exam to receive the scholarship. On a quiet afternoon, a group of black guys approached Tri and Ricky and opened fire, which led to Ricky’s instant death. They were the same group that quarreled with Tri and his friends earlier.

Tri and his friends were so furious about the death of Ricky and decided to retaliate. Tri’s dad tried to stop Tri, but Tri insisted on revenge and left with Doughboy to hunt the killers. While they were in the car looking for the killers, Tri decided to step out and quit. Doughboy found the killers and shot them to death.

The movie’s last scene shows Ricky’s mother receiving the SAT score, which was 710 and could have earned him the sports scholarship. Tri and his girlfriend went to college. Doughboy was killed two weeks later.

Criminological Theories

The movie shows us how life in a deprived black community affects young children. Some end up being victims and turn to a life of crime, and some end up murdered. Many social criminological theories can be used to describe criminal factors in the movie.

The Chicago School of theories focuses on social aspects as the primary causal for crimes. We see it in the film when innocent young children are being targeted by local thugs. Then, when those immature juveniles are left on the streets without guidance, they turn to crime as a way to acquire goods or revenge for their victimization.

The film also shows us how their community was so straining on those kids, who otherwise would have been successful men. Another criminological theory is Hirschi’s control theory in Tri’s life. A good family upbringing and oversight kept him on the straight path and through many straining circumstances that he had to deal with in the neighborhood or as a young black man.

John Singleton, Stanley Clarke, and Raoul Roach. BOYZ N THE HOOD. USA, 1991.

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Boyz N the Hood: The Book

Recommended reading The untold story behind the making of ‘Boyz n the Hood’

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