Free Study Guide for There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz|
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The story is set
in Henry Horner Homes (a low-income public housing project), ("the projects")
and the surrounding neighborhoods in the inner city of Chicago, Illinois. The
time frame of the novel is from the summer of 1987 through September 29, 1989
He is one of two brothers who live in the projects of Chicago
and who are the subject of Alex Kotlowitz’s exposé of life for
the children of the run-down inner city. Lafeyette is the one who is most
affected by the dying of his dreams and the loss of his friends to violence.
He is the other brother and the one who is most outwardly sensitive
to life in the inner city. He worries whether he will grow up, is easily
reduced to tears, and hides behind his youth to avoid worrisome situations.
He is also the more intelligent of the two brothers and will no doubt
be more successful in escaping the life he despises in the projects.
The boys’ mother, LaJoe is a deeply emotional person who hates
the life her children must endure. She worries constantly about them and
is their rock. She, too, however, feels the stress of life where she frequently
hears gunfire and even has bullet holes in her apartment walls. She always
finds a way to bring a little cheer into their lives even as she prepares
them for the possibility of a future as bleak as they fear.
He is the older brother of Lafeyette and Pharoah and the one
who is his mother’s greatest disappointment. He has, for most of his life,
been her favorite, but he can’t keep himself away from the wrong crowd
and finally ends up serving an eight year prison term.
A friend to both Lafeyette and Pharoah, he is an unsettling influence
on them. He is sweet and well liked, but he is too often in trouble and
just might pull them down with him.
She is LaJoe’s niece and only the second member of the entire
family to graduate from high school. She is their combined success story
and brings disappointment when she doesn’t move out of Horner right away
or get a good job.
LaJoe’s husband and the father of all her children, he is a constant
disappointment to the family, because of alcohol and drug problems.
A young black male who is a success story and a special role
model for Lafeyette. His death at the hands of the police is devastating
to the younger boy.
Actually named Leonard Anderson, Porkchop is the River's boys’
cousin. He is unusually quiet and shy, but filled with a nervous energy
that keeps him constantly in motion. He grins rather than talks and he
is inseparable from Pharoah.
LaJoe’s best friend, she provides support when LaJoe is feeling
her lowest. She also acts like a surrogate mother when the kids need her.
Bird Leg and Scooter Russell
These are two boys who die violently and have an intense impact
He is a gang leader who holds absolute control over Horner. He
is the leader of the Vice Lords and eventually receives thirty years in
She is a little girl who witnesses the mass murder of four family
members and is nearly killed herself. She has the courage to stand up
in court and testify against the two men who killed them.
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She is the boys’ older sister and the oldest child in the family.
She has three children, the youngest of which was born drug-addicted.
Lafeyette feels his mother should throw her out of their house because
of the drugs, but LaJoe can never reject a member of her family.
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