god bless mommy. god bless nanny.
god, don’t punish me because I’m black.
The above is an excerpt of a prayer taken from one of the saddest, most disheartening books I’ve ever read. Jonathon Kozol based this book on a neighborhood in the South Bronx, called Mott Haven. Mott Haven happens to be not only the poorest district in New York, but possibly in the whole United States. Of the 48,000 living in this broken down, rat-infested neighborhood, two thirds are hispanic, one third is black and thirty-five percent are children. Not only is Mott Haven one of the poorest places, it is also one of the most racially segregated.
The book itself is an on-going dialogue between Kozol and the neighborhoods residents, interjected every so often with thoughts from Kozol. He covers a spectrum of topics from AIDS, drug addiction, prostitution, crime, poorly run and funded schools, white flight from schools to over-crowded hospitals and the amazing faith in religion and God that many of these people have.
Kozol makes several trips to Mott Haven and speaks with a myriad of people, children and adults alike. For instance, Kozol develops a rapport with a twelve year old hispanic boy named Anthony. Anthony is clever and loves to write stories. Some day he hopes to become a novelist. He also has a great faith in God. He makes some very poignant remarks pertaining to his neighborhood and life in general. For example, one day Kozol and Anthony are discussing if anyone in the neighborhood is truly happy and Kozol pints out that some of the children seem cheerful playing in the school playgrounds. Anthony quickly points out that cheerful and happy are not the same. Then as they are walking, Anthony stops and waves his hand around him in the neighborhood. Then he asks, “Would you be happy if you had to live here?” The only answer can be, NO.
Kozol also speaks to many of the church leaders in the different communities of the South Bronx. In particular, he speaks often to Reverend Overall, known as Mother Martha to Anthony and the other children that attend her church. What is most amazing about Rev. Overall is the fact that she gave up a productive career as a lawyer to serve the people in the poorest community in America.
Analysis of Characters in There Are No Children Here
There Are No Children Here – Analysis of Characters
Pharoah is the younger brother to Lafeyette, LaShawn, and Terence. He is an intelligent person. His mother LaJoe wants Pharaoh to do well in life. She thinks that he has the motivation to do whatever he would like to do. Pharoah has a lisp that makes him work harder in becoming a better person throughout the novel. “Pharoah was different, not only from Lafeyette but from the other children, too. He didn’t have many friends, except for Porkchop, who was always by his side… Pharoah got so lost in his daydreams that LaJoe had to shake him to bring him back from his flights of fancy. Those forays into distant lands and with other people seemed to help Pharoah fend off the ugliness around him” (15). Pharoah was changed throughout the novel, overcoming his lisp and becoming confident in himself that he could one day escape the Horner homes.
Lafeyette is a teenager whose experiences in the Horner homes teaches him how the way of life works. Lafeyette is one of LaJoe’s children who starts out as a promising child but changes throughout the novel trying new ideas that he was not familiar with. Lafeyette is a thin person. He is a “stick” to some people. Lafeyette experiences conflicts which affects his life. His ‘mentor’ Craig Davis. Craig’s death affected him so much that Lafeyette’s attitude became so different than what LaJoe was so used to. Lafeyette would hang around with his friend Rickey who was affiliated with the up and coming Four Corners: a young group of trouble-makers looking to start a new gang. Lafeyette didn’t like hanging around with Rickey’s friends. During the final chapters of the novel, Lafeyette is accused of stealing car parts from a pick up truck. He would be charged and sentenced for one year of probation. Lafeyette becomes what LaJoe dreaded: Lafeyette turning out to be his older brother Terence.
Lajoe is the mother of Lafeyette, Pharoah and to 5 other children. LaJoe has lived in the Horner home for most of her life. She moved to the Horner homes when she was 4 years old. Back in the early days she thought Horner was ‘amazing’ considering the changes it has gone through over the years. “But to LaJoe and her brothers and sisters, it all looked dazzling.