Free Study Guide for There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz|
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THERE ARE NO CHILDREN HERE - FREE ONLINE STUDY GUIDE
It is early July and once again, LaJoe and her five youngest children are huddling in the hallway while guns are fired outside. They are squatting there long after the sound ceases out of fear of a stray bullet. LaJoe finally must get up, and to clear her mind, to avoid thinking about what has happened, she begins to clean. However, even this is an exercise in futility, because there is so much wrong with their apartment: maintenance is at a bare minimum, eight people live in the apartment, there is often an overflow of garbage, roaches are everywhere, heating pipes are exposed, the bathroom tub faucet runs constantly, and the boiler creates outrageous heat in the winter. To add to the general clutter and mess, a horrible stench suggesting raw, spoiled meat periodically rises from the toilet. LaJoe believes it comes from the smell of dead fetuses. The previous tenants were rumored to have performed abortions there. Nonetheless, she does what she can to brighten up the place with pictures and knick-knacks.
Finally, LaJoe gives the okay to the children to get up and walk around. However,
they’re forbidden to go outside. That’s what they all want even though there’s
not much to do there. There are a few basketball hoops left over from thirty years
before, and Lafeyette’s friend, James loves to play. He is a basketball fanatic
who has managed to convince players at the Chicago Stadium to donate sneakers
for his collections. However, Lafeyette doesn’t like to play there, because the
kids who are around that area might make him join a gang. In fact, when some teens
asked Lafeyette to stand security for them, LaJoe had actually intervened to send
them away. She says she’ll die first before she’ll let them take one of her sons.
Even James says that the only way to make it out of Horner is to make as few friends
as possible. He says that if he has one wish, he’ll separate all the good from
the bad and send them to another planet to battle it out, so no innocent people
will get hurt. Lafeyette wishes to go to heaven, and Pharoah wishes for no gangbangers.
By the end of the season, the police will record one person every three days being
beaten, shot at, or stabbed at Horner, while they confiscate 22 guns and 330 grams
The poignancy of this chapter
comes from the realization that when Horner was new, there was great hope and
decent living conditions at last for the residents. It reinforces the despair
that builds over the years as the conditions deteriorate and life there becomes
a war zone based on gangs and drugs. In addition, the wishes the children declare
show how sad life is when one wants everyone sent to another planet, one wants
to go to heaven, and one wants the gangbangers gone. Their wishes reflect the
projects - sour and to some degree, hopeless.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on There Are No Children Here".
. 09 May 2017