Hardships of Living Two Lives
Sometimes it is very difficult to adjust to different environments especially when living in a socially unstable community. Susan Straight knows what this is like growing up in Riverside and having a black husband. Many of her stories are about black family life. In Susan Straight's short story "Mines" (2002), the protagonist, Clarette, works at a stressful job dealing with delinquent juveniles while trying to balance time for her own children at home; with this, Straight shows the hardships of living two different lives and how they connect. First, Clarette works at a youth prison and sees juvenile delinquents wasting their lives away. She is disgusted by the way the wards look and act. They have many tattoos, “Numbers over their eyebrows and fuck you inside their lips when they pull them down like clowns” (155). The wards think the tattoos make them look tough like the "Nazis with spider webs on their elbows, which is supposed to mean they killed someone dark" (156). Clarette's nephew, Alfonso, is also in this terrible place. "Alfonso thinks this is a big joke. A vacation. Training for life. His country club" (Straight 156). Alfonso seems careless about his life. Clarette worries about him and tries to secretly watch out for him even though she's not supposed to. Clarette has to watch out for them so no one gets hurt because the young wards act like thugs and are always starting fights. Having to put up with the delinquent kids fighting is the most stressful part of her job. In the end of Susan Straight’s short story, Clarette is forced to get involved in a fight. “Shoving them back and one shoves me hard in the side. I feel elbows and hands. Got to get the kid down, and I push with my stick” (160). Finally, Clarette and the other guards are able to get the fight under control. By the end of the fight, Clarette is a little battered from the brawl but, she has to show all the...
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