After reading the final chapter of Clockers, what was perhaps supposed to be an uplifting, relieving or hopeful conclusion to the novel left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied. To be sure, I was happy that Strike didn’t end up serving time for a murder he didn’t commit; another casualty cycle of clockers caught up in the game. However, after all the punishment and ironic struggles he had to endure because Rocco–a homicide cop in a position of great power and authority–felt like he was the murderer, I was slightly miffed that in the last few pages of the novel Rocco realizes his mistake and is fairly unrepentant for it. He does not attempt to clear up the bad blood between Strike and Rodney, nor does he seem to have plans to reprimand Andre. He does not seem hung up on the fact that, even after evidence pointed away from Strike and Victor had repeatedly confessed to the murder himself, his self-serving, narrow, racialist assumptions may have led him astray. Strike’s exile to New York offers his character little to no vindication, only the opportunity to pick up the struggle again somewhere else.
My lack of satisfaction at this conclusion, though, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I feel that the lack of true “justice” (in the sense that we all wish would exist) is an accurate portrayal of the poor urban world where clockers thrive. To have written an ending which allowed Strike to win on all accounts would have done an injustice to the systemic reasons that life entangled in extralegal activities and poverty is cyclical and continues be the inheritance of disenfranchised peoples.