After the incident, Phil began to question his own understanding of race.
- "Can I help it if we have a cleaning lady, and she's black and we're white? And can I help it if she's Daniel's grandmother? I mean, it's not like we're rich or something. If's not like we force Lcuy to work for us, is it?
- "What if Daniel had been a white kid? Would I have grabbed him like that? If he had lookd like he belonged in that jacket, would I have said he stole it?"
- "How come you never told me I was prejudiced?" ( a question to his mother)Throughout the story, Phil comes to realize that he is not prejudiced, but recognizes the disturbing fact that is father is, in fact, a bigot.
Clements wrote a story that deals with issues that children in schools deal with throughout the world. The issues of tolerance and honesty embody this short, yet thought-provoking novel that allow for readers to self-question their values, just as Phil did throughout his journey. The Jacket would serve as an exellent springboard for discussion in classrooms in exploring racism, tolerance, and prejudice. (School Library Journal)
When asked what prompted him to write The Jacket, Mr. Clements says in a note at the back of the book: "If a white kid grows up in the majority culture in America, sooner or later there will come a realization that children from other races may have had a very different experience, may have lived in a different America. I vividly remember that realization in my own life. I wanted to write a story about that moment when unconscious prejudices rise to the surface, a story that would explore differences and emphaszie our common humanity."