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Free Study Guide for There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz

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CHAPTER SUMMARY - THERE ARE NO CHILDREN HERE - ALEX KOTLOWITZ


CHAPTER EIGHT

Summary

This chapter examines the character of Rickey who becomes Pharoah’s friend when Rickey develops a crush on Pharoah’s cousin, Dede. When Pharoah convinces Dede to “date” Rickey, the two boys are friends ever after. It seems strange from the start that a boy from the “new projects” two buildings west of Pharoah’s would become friends with a boy from the “old projects.” What’s more, they are very different: Pharoah is small and slightly built, while Rickey is built like a pit bull; Pharoah adores school while Rickey shuns it; and where Pharoah tries to keep a distance from the neighborhood violence, Rickey is in the thick of it. In fact, his anger at his cousin Bird Leg’s death simmers inside of him, and he often becomes embroiled in a fight. He behaves like a traumatized war veteran. Nonetheless, beneath his raw exterior is a tender child who shows his elders respect and takes the hands of younger children to help them cross the street. LaJoe sees his tenderness as a guard against the violence.

The friendship between Rickey and Pharoah was cemented when an older boy named Cortez taunted Pharoah and stole a basketball from him during gym class. Rickey stepped in and gave the ball back to Pharoah. Then, when he turned his back, Cortez threw him to the floor. Rickey reacted again in rage by holding the older boy in a headlock and pummeling him. As a result, Rickey became Pharoah’s protector and his trusted friend.

Lafeyette is wary of Pharoah’s new friend, because he worries about his little brother. He is proud of how well Pharoah does in school and secretly wishes his mother would push him as hard as she does Pharoah. He does test particularly well in math, and by seventh grade, would earn all A’s in math and science. In the meantime, he tries to toughen Pharoah up by making him fight him. The younger boy is against it all, but Lafeyette fears he might not be there to help his little brother someday. He even tries to warn Pharoah that Rickey will get him in trouble sometime. Ironically, in the end, Rickey has a greater influence on Lafeyette than he does on Pharoah.

Notes

This chapter introduces the reader to Rickey who first becomes Pharoah’s guardian and then his friend. Knowing Rickey and how he responds to the younger boy helps the reader see aspects of Pharoah that are especially endearing and understand his character better. We also see a sweet, tender boy who might be ruined by the projects, becoming just another statistic.

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