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

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This is the last page of the free study guide for "There Are No Children Here".
The complete study guide is currently available as a downloadable PDF, RTF, or MS Word DOC file from the PinkMonkey MonkeyNotes download store. The complete study guide contains summaries and notes for all of the chapters; detailed analysis of the themes, plot structure, and characters; important quotations and analysis; detailed analysis of symbolism, motifs, and imagery; a key facts summary; detailed analysis of the use of foreshadowing and irony; a multiple-choice quiz, and suggested book report ideas and essay topics.


THERE ARE NO CHILDREN HERE - FREE CHAPTER SUMMARY

CHAPTER TEN

Summary

LaJoe is called into the Department of Public Aid’s “interrogation room” to explain why she may be guilty of welfare fraud. She dresses neatly and arrives on time even though she waits a long time before it’s her turn. She knows nothing about why they have targeted her. She only knows that the $931 she receives in welfare and food stamps each month is her only income. When she finally sits down with representatives of the office, they never introduce themselves and speak to her in legalese, words which would confuse anyone who is not a lawyer. Then, they tell her they have found a substantial amount of information that Paul has used her address as his home. When LaJoe says he can be found here and there, but mostly on the corner of Lake and Woods in front of a liquor store, they begin to pile up proof that he lives with her: joint income tax returns, unemployment benefits he had received, his driver’s license, and a court summons, both of which listed her address. LaJoe doesn’t offer much when told she must prove that these things are wrong. She only wonders how to break the news to her kids.

When she comes in the door after the hearing, LaJoe can’t keep the news from Lafeyette. However, she chooses not to tell Pharoah who has responded lately to every act of violence and piece of family trouble with the same refrain: “I’m too little to understand.” She fears that he won’t be able to handle anything new in the way of sorrow or disappointment. She discusses with Lafeyette why they are losing their benefits and explains why she won’t put her husband or her older children out on the street. He tells her she should stop being so weak-hearted. This is yet another example to Lafeyette of how his mother doesn’t try hard enough to get them out of Horner. It makes him so angry, but he still feels the responsibility placed on his shoulders and says he’s going to quit school and go to work for the family. LaJoe just tells him that’s nonsense. They talk together until two in the morning, and Lafeyette confesses that one time he had decided not to talk anymore. It is an example of how little he trusts anyone anymore.

Pharoah finds out about the public aid decision a few weeks later when LaJoe doesn’t go to do her usual monthly shopping. He surprises her by taking it all in stride. LaJoe finds herself leaning on family and friends for awhile, and then she begins to play cards for money. She is a great card player like her father before her, and she nets enough to keep them going. Unfortunately, these are all-night card games, and she is often not home in time to get the children off to school. Lafeyette steps in and takes care of his siblings so he can take some of the worry away from his mother. In addition, LaJoe begins to look for work, but part of her problem is her shyness, her timidity. As a result, she doesn’t interview well. She is unprepared to re-enter the job market, because she has no skills to offer. There are few jobs available anyway. Now LaJoe becomes a victim of chronic fatigue and a short temper. Her only solace is in the realization that there are others worse off than she is.


LaJoe’s appeal to Public Aid doesn’t go well. Paul, who spends any money he earns on drugs, goes to the welfare office on LaJoe’s behalf, explaining his history with drugs and his separation from his wife. He asks that the conversation be kept confidential from his employer, and the casework believes he means from anyone and the information is not presented at the appeal. LaJoe is most upset that no caseworker visited her apartment. Anyone who did would know that she isn’t double-dipping. Besides that, if she had the benefit of Paul’s income, she would have moved from Horner long ago. However, she feels so defeated that she barely puts up a fight, and she is stripped of her benefits. She is told she can re-apply later.

As summer approaches, the shooting picks up, and Pharoah’s stutter worsens. On May 22, a nine-year-old friend of the boys is shot in the back of the head. It probably would have gone unnoticed if it were not such a start contrast to what happened in the affluent suburb of Winnetka. An emotionally disturbed thirty-year-old woman had walked into an elementary school there and shot seven children, killing one. She then killed herself. It made banner headlines and mobilized the citizens of the community. The children were given the benefit of a crisis team of psychologists and social workers. Teachers received instructions on how to comfort the children. The governor spoke out on increased school security and others demanded tighter gun control laws. To those at Horner, the shooting highlighted everything they didn’t have. In Winnetka, the shooting was an aberration; at Horner it was part of normal life.

Notes

This chapter serves to emphasize the poverty of the people of Horner in both financial resources and spirit. LaJoe seriously needs the welfare benefits she receives, but no one in a position to help her seems to care. The children of Horner need the same psychological support and comfort that the children of Winnetka received, but no one cares enough to look beyond the fact that shootings there are an everyday occurrence.

This is the last page of the free study guide for "There Are No Children Here".
The complete study guide is currently available as a downloadable PDF, RTF, or MS Word DOC file from the PinkMonkey MonkeyNotes download store. The complete study guide contains summaries and notes for all of the chapters; detailed analysis of the themes, plot structure, and characters; important quotations and analysis; detailed analysis of symbolism, motifs, and imagery; a key facts summary; detailed analysis of the use of foreshadowing and irony; a multiple-choice quiz, and suggested book report ideas and essay topics.


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