Critical Analysis Paper:
There Are No Children Here
Arena L. Dixon
Murray State University
Dr. Roger Weis
Henry Horner Projects was the stage in the lives of the Rivers’ family as it was for many of the people who lived there. It was like its’ very existence dictated the lives of the occupants. Families raised their families there and those children grew up to raise their children there too and it was commonplace. If that wasn’t enough the families often became true victims of their environment by getting involved in the lifestyle that was connected to real inner city living. The subject matter of the book shows the conditions of poor people in the subsidized housing projects of Chicago, Illinois. The Rivers’ are members of a poor family. The family lives in Henry Horner Homes, a subsidized housing project in Chicago. The family relies on welfare and federal assistance for support. They cannot afford most luxuries and many necessities; therefore, life is an ongoing struggle to survive. Many adults and children reside in the family's household. These extra family members further strain and drain the family's resources and cramp their living room in the family's apartment. LaJoe has eight children, all living in the apartment: LaShawn, Weasel, Terence, Lafayette, Pharoah, Tammie, Tiffany, and Timothy. LaShawn has three children and Terence has three children. Paul, LaJoe's ex-husband, stays with the family on occasion as well as Leila Mae, LaJoe's mother. Gangs controlled the buildings in the projects. They hired residents of the buildings to store weapons and drugs in their apartments. Gang members sold drugs in the neighborhoods and attempted to obtain help in selling drugs from small children. Some gangs broke into apartments to steal from them and use them as safe havens against the police and other law enforcement agencies. Gangs have "turf wars" which resulted in gun battles which injured and killed many people, most of which are innocent bystanders. This community of high rise apartments was the home to LaJoe and her family as a child. It started out like her family had laid the groundwork for a solid foundation for her and her
siblings to have a productive life. Henry Horner for LaJoe in the past was a sign of the good life, there was fresh paint, flowers and light poles. The Housing Authority had money designated for the upkeep of the community in some ways I think this represented fullness of life for LaJoe. When the funding was no longer available for things to be repaired, the housing projects went neglected and the appearance of the complex quickly went downhill as did Lajoe’s desire for life. Crime and vandalism were extensive in the community. The police were ineffective and even if they did try to investigate a crime, the residents were hesitant to speak up due to the fear of being harmed by the ones who actually committed the crime. Gangs ruled the complex and drugs were sold from abandoned apartments (Kotlowitz, 1991).Rival gangs shot at each other and innocent bystanders became the backdrop for the violence.
There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz, tells the story of two boys growing up in the “other America” the true story of how life really is for most African Americans in similar circumstances….grim and dismal. The research by the author was extensive and probably dangerous not only to him but to the characters and sources who were interviewed. Mr. Kotlowitz provided a historical glimpse into the lives of the characters. It was important for the reader to understand how things came to be. These insightful perspectives provided a painful understanding of how easy it can be for a struggling, low resource family to be sucked into a hopeless cycle of generational depression and oppression. The families and ultimately the children of Henry Horner Projects were no exception to this vicious cycle. The most rewarding aspect of this book...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document