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“There Are No Children Here”

“There Are No Children Here”

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“There Are No Children Here”

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  1. “There Are No Children Here” By: Alex Kotlowitz

  2. About the Author Alex Kotlowitz • Grew up in NYC • His father, Robert is an author of four novels and a memoir • Had been writing on urban affairs for the Wall Street Journal, had met Lafayette and Pharoah Rivers while writing the the text for a friends photo essay on children in poverty • Spent 4 years with the boys documenting the struggles with the overwhelming and seemingly meaningless violence • Resulting book was a national best seller and won glowing reviews for its empathy and reportorial force

  3. Summary • Two boys growing up in the Henry Horner housing facilities in Chicago during the 1980s • Lafayette – 12 years old • Pharaoh – 8 years old • Come from a family of 8 children all together • LaJoe, their loving mother provides all that she can for her family, despite financial struggles • During a time filled with heavy gang violence and drug abuse

  4. Characters Lafayette • 12 years old • Protective of his younger brother and mother • Tries to be the “man” of the house • Doesn’t do well in school Pharoah • 9 years old • Looks up to his older brother • Cute/innocent/shy/smart • Big daydreamer • Has a studder “Where the adults found Lafeyette handsome, they found Pharoah cute” (16).

  5. Characters LaJoe • Young, 35 years old • Determined • Dependent yet independent • Nurturing and loving mother • Very accepting and generous • Provides endlessly for her family “If the brothers had one guidepost in their young lives these few months, though, it was their mother, LaJoe. They depended on her; she depended on them” (9).

  6. Historical Times Place: Henry Horner Houses, west side of Chicago Time: late 80s, Summer of 1987-89 • Gangs controlled every corner • Children living in these neighborhoods seem to have a bleak future ahead of them “LaJoe vowed to herself. It wouldn’t happen. They would have a childhood…they would move out of the neighborhood” (17).

  7. Issues & Problems • Gang Violence • Poor living conditions • Poverty • Drug abuse “By the time they enter adolescents, they have contended with more terror than most of us can front in a lifetime. They have had to make choices that most experienced and educated adults would find difficult. They have lived with fear and witnessed death. Some of them have lashed out. They have joined gangs, sold drugs, and, in some cases, inflicted pain on others…despite all they have seen and done, they are—and we must constantly remind ourselves of this—still children” (2).

  8. Themes Violence/Death “By the season’s end, the police would record that one person every three days had been beaten, shot at, or stabbed at Horner” (32). “You could almost smell the arrival of death” (45). Family “They were also glad to have him home, out on bond, out of the overcrowded Cook County Jail. Their family was whole again” (126).

  9. Themes The American Dream “I want to change a lot of rules. I want to change them and everybody move out of the projects. I’ll pay people to build housing. Let the people who live in the projects live in other houses” (255). Friendship “Their resilience, resourcefulness, and vision have been an inspiration for me. Their friendship has enriched my life. This book is for them” (313).

  10. Pyramid

  11. Video • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6mcMuHL3r8