It’s possible that Strike’s stomach troubles stem from his day to day business and his eventual necessity to knock off another drug dealer in order to advance his career. Again, though, director Spike Lee is never heavy handed enough to state the impetus for these gut rumblings.
Assuming it’s Strike’s conscious getting at him, a scene deeper into the film where the drug dealer runs of a younger would-be dealer makes a bit of sense. Of course, the man’s belly doesn’t magically recover. So, we’re all left to wonder what it actually meant.
In working to make it “off the benches” as a lowly hustler, Strike works to ingratiate himself to Rodney Little, local drug king pin as played by Delroy Lindo. Rodney, though, adept at manipulating his underlings understands that basically anything he asks is going to be done. What results is a murder being confessed to by Strikes’ do-right brother who has a wife and child in a sort of odd variation on the Cain and Abel thing.
The man killed – Daryl Adams – works at a place called Ahabs, a greasy fish joint in the neighborhood. The restaurant serves a few purposes in addition to employing the impetus for police investigation. One, there’s no shortage of awful food in the ghetto as denizens glut themselves on unhealthy food. But the overt Moby Dick reference makes the dead man and the entire scenario the bane of Strike’s life.
Estranged from his mother, it’s odd that Strike is frequently in the courtyard plying his wares. She’s no doubt disavowed the relationship because of his daily business dealings. And as a result has left Strike with no one other than his assembled crew. The aforementioned younger boy who eventually finds himself in Strike’s company might be seen as a surrogate for a real family even after the kid’s mother chastises the drug dealer for hanging around her kid. It’s in this woman’s harangues that the point of the entire movie rests.
Everyone has a choice. And even if a person heads down what could be the assumed wrong path, dragging people down with you should be avoided. With the opening scenes of the film being so gruesome, it should be understood that at least one of those bodies was an unintended casualty of the drug war. Because of the way drug dealing goes there’s the potentiality of any random life being negatively effected by the game. And that’s why the kid’s mom is so upset. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie won’t find her or her son in a better situation.