Free Study Guide for There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz|
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THERE ARE NO CHILDREN HERE - BOOK REVIEW AND NOTES
In the midst of all these problems, Terence only wanted to fit in and be accepted by his peers. He was somewhat of a mama’s boy, but when she gave birth to her youngest five children, LaJoe could no longer give him the same pampering she had before. He didn’t take the rejection well. In fact, when he was ten, he just left one day, and she couldn’t find him. He had become a “salesman” for Charles, a local drug dealer. Terence began earning as much as $200 a day, and Charles sort of adopted him, setting him up in his own room and giving him his own television. He also taught the boy to shoot a .45 revolver. Terence then dropped out of school in the seventh grade and was recorded as “lost.” By the time LaJoe learned where Terence had gone, she was no longer able to win him back. She even went to the police, but even when they brought him home, he only stayed for a few weeks and then left again. Paul even went after his son and challenged Charles face-to-face over the boy. Terence was so overwrought by the challenge between his father and Charles that he “lowed down” and stayed at home for the most part after that. However, he couldn’t be kept home all the time. Sometimes, he would just disappear. LaJoe and Paul lost him to the neighborhood.
Terence still kept track of his family, even once restoring $500 his mother had had stolen. The rest of the children loved him and missed him, and so his guilt sometimes drove Terence home for a few days. Eventually, he grew tired of belonging to Charles. This occurred when he stopped his mother as she went to the store on the bus. He asked her for money, but for the first time in his life, she told him no. That made him decide to come back home. However, returning home didn’t end his troubles. He continued to shoplift and break into video games with his friends. He briefly joined the Disciples, but turned his back on them when none came to visit him while he was in detention. He also became a father to a little boy nicknamed Snuggles. By the time he turned eighteen, he had been arrested 46 times.
For six months, from the summer of 1987 through January 1988, fifteen
taverns reported robberies in the 19th Police District. The thieves concentrated
on video poker games, which the police considered nuisance crimes when no one
was hurt in the process. Two young black males came into Lawry’s Tavern on January
15. They planned to rob the video machines and brought a screwdriver to pry them
open. When they saw three new customers, they thought they might be the police,
and so stashed the screwdriver behind a radiator and then left. The police stopped
them at the door, discovered a set of keys to other video machines, and recovered
the screwdriver. One of the boys was Terence. This was a serious situation for
Terence, because he was now an adult, and the penalty would be much stiffer. Two
weeks later, four black males robbed Ann’s Longhorn Saloon, and one of them was
identified as Terence. This bar had been burglarized five times on the last two
years. When the boys tried to pretend they were just there to play video games,
Ann knew what they were planning. She told them she had already called the police.
By this time, they had managed to pry open the machine after cutting a padlock
with bolt cutters. They loaded their pockets with around $200 in change and started
for the door. When one of the patrons got up as if to stop them, one of the boys,
Johnny Adams, pulled a knife to warn him off and nearly stabbed the man in the
back. Three days later, after Ann Mitchell identified him from a Polaroid photo
taken earlier, Terence was arrested again at home for armed robbery.
The author examines in this chapter Terence, Lafeyette
and Pharoah’s older brother, as one of the problems which contributes to the overall
tension of the house. His story, however personal to the other characters, is
typical of a young black male in the inner city of Chicago. Young men like him
grow up in an atmosphere of hopelessness where jobs are non-existent and easy
money can be made through crime. He is a statistic, and yet he is also a lost
human being who makes do on a daily basis and never looks to the future for anything.
His potential is also lost - to himself and to everyone around him who may have
benefited from what he has to offer his community.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on There Are No Children Here".
. 15 May 2008