For this report, I have read all three of Dave Pelzer's books about his life: A Child Called “It”, The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave.
A Child Called “It” chronicles Dave's life as a child, and is told from that viewpoint. From his earliest recollections of a relatively happy life with "the Mommy" to his life and death struggle with "The Mother", this book details the horror of Dave’s dehumanizing existence. Going far beyond “typical” physical, emotional and psychological abuses, Dave’s story tells of intentional starvation, forced coprophagia, poisoning and much more. This volume covers his life from his earliest memories at age 4 until his rescue at age 12.
The Lost Boy picks up the story where the first book leaves off, following Dave through the foster care system until the age of 18. Dave’s navigation through the foster care system is an arduous journey. His sense of survival is strong, but being a foster child is not easy.
A Man Named Dave is the final book in the trilogy, covering Dave's life from his enlistment in the Air Force through the present day. From his resolve to be accepted by the Air Force to his almost desperate determination to be a good father to his son, Dave shares with the reader his difficulty adjusting to a “normal” life.
The Pelzer family was white and middle class. Dave’s father, Stephen, was a firefighter, and his mother, Catherine, was a homemaker. Both parents were alcoholics. They lived in a “good” neighborhood in a modest home. Until the abuse began, Dave’s life with his parents and brothers was good. In his words, “Our every whim was fulfilled with love and care” (Pelzer, 1995).
The two areas of diversity I recognized in these books are economic status and disability. Because of Dave's ragged clothing, unkempt appearance and inadequate hygiene, he was an outcast at school. Though Dave’s parents were financially capable of providing for him, his mother withheld from him food, appropriate clothing and other basic material necessities of life. Dave took food from other children’s lunches at school in order to survive. His schoolmates were aware of this, and it served to set him further apart from them. The children called him names and he had no friends.
Two of the disabilities that were apparent to me while reading these books were the alcoholism of Dave’s parents and Dave’s developmental issues.
Application of Developmental Theories
Families are systems in which each individual has a unique relationship with the other individuals in the family. Dave’s place in his family was, indeed, unique. The subsystem consisting of Dave and his mother had a foundation in the boundaries set by the mother. Dave’s role in the family was, essentially, that he was not a part of the family. Not only that, Dave’s identity was stripped away by his mother. At the onset of the abuse, she began referring to him as “the boy.” As the situation worsened, she referred to him as “It”, hence the title of the first book...