Amazing Grace Summary 4

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Using the themes we have examined in this course discuss the situation of the children in Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace. Who defines them as 'other'? How? What makes them feel like 'nobodies'? What makes them feel like 'somebodies'? What is the role of religion in this daily struggle for human dignity?

Drugs, violence, prostitution, pollution, infestation, and sickness of all kinds are present in South Bronx, New York. Unfortunately, children are surrounded and involved in all these problems and more. In Jonathan Kozol’s novel Amazing Grace, an evil reality full of racial segregation and alienation affect the people living in the ghetto. The personalities of these children are changed forever due to the existence of discrimination.

When people from the South Bronx neighbourhood go to stores, hospitals, or churches outside of their own area, there is a sense of rejection. “They’re right. I don’t belong in a nice hospital. My skin is black. I’m Puerto Rican. I’m on welfare. I belong in my own neighbourhood. This is where I’m supposed to be.” (Kozol, 176) This is the common reality that plagues the adults. Consequently, a society that discriminates against people due to their skin colour and status contributes to the negative way these children think. If the adults are having a difficult time dealing with the issues already, what possibly could be on the minds of their children? Majority of the children believe they do not fit the social norms of the American society and therefore are treated like outcasts. The poverty-stricken children discuss with Kozol the reasons why they feel this way. “If you go downtown to a nice store, they look at you sometimes as if your body is disgusting. You can be dressed in your best dress but you feel you are not welcome.” (Kozol, 41) The sixteen year old girl Maria believes this is how people of the ghetto are viewed; they are viewed dirty, hopeless, unwanted and different. Furthermore, the children...
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