New Year’s Eve
Much of the action in Fruitvale Station surrounds Oscar’s mother’s birthday, which may seem like a dramatic contrivance. It was, in fact, Wanda Johnson’s birthday, and Grant did buy crabs that day for the gumbo that would be prepared at the party later that evening.
Those barber school plans are not mentioned in Fruitvale Station. Oscar, realizing he can’t get his old supermarket job back, doesn’t seem to have many prospects. He does have a conversation with Sophina that echoes the one Grant apparently had with his family, and we see him throw out a bag of marijuana that he had intended to sell, even though the rent is due. (It is unclear whether Grant actually disposed of his drugs in such a manner.)
In Fruitvale Station, the Horowitch character, called Daniel Cale (Joey Oglesby), is introduced briefly in the flashback scene of Oscar in jail; during his mother’s visit, the two get into a shouting match after Cale makes a disparaging remark, setting the stage for their later scuffle on the train. (It is unclear whether Horowitch ever made such a remark to Grant while the two were in jail.) Katie, the semi-fictional woman from the supermarket, also comes full circle: In another apparent addition to the narrative, she recognizes Oscar as he passes along the crowded car and calls out his name, leading Cale to notice him and instigate the fight.
Fruitvale Station is based on the true story of Oscar Grant. He was a young black man who was “accidentally” gunned down on New Year’s Day 2009 at Fruitvale Station, a stop of the San Francisco subway system called Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART.