Barriers of Color, Prejudice and Fear in There Are No Children Here
The barriers of color, as well as prejudice and fear show through in this story of two young boys growing up in inner city Chicago. Confined to the project housing the brothers and their family are well aware of their "caste" in society. The story follows the events of the Rivers family living in the Henry Horner Homes (near the United Center in Chicago). Over the course of about three years, the author describes the day to day experiences of the family, focusing on the two boys. Pharoah and Lafeyette Rivers are surrounded by what seems to be a prison of doom and despair. Faced with the unrelenting reality of ghetto living, the two boys always seem to hold on to a spark of hope. Their environment is somewhat standard for project housing. Something in apartment is always broken (the faucet in the bathtub could not be turned off; the constant sound of running water slowly draining soon blended into the background), the small space that they did have was over crowed by family members that floated through with their own children and friends.
The safest playground was the hallway, the spacious playground was missing parts of playground equipment, and was always blanketed with the threats of gangs, drugs, and gun play. When the children who opted to go to the playground, they did not fall on pavement, but rather blacktop paved with broken glass. Nearby was the United Center-a beacon for kids who looked for a way out of the projects. Hoping for a glimpse of team members, the kids entertainment did not come from going to see the game, but rather from waiting to see the Bulls.
The story chronicles the family's lives, the ups and many downs. The author gives the reader vivid details of their lives, which grants the reader access into feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and fear that the family deals with. However, boys provide the conduit for examining these feelings. A glimmer of hope shines through the dark realities of inner city childhood. The two brothers are like ying and yang when it comes to this. Pharoah's personality provides a pleasant yet heart breaking twist to the story. He is full of optimism, and eternally innocent. For example, Pharoah chases after a rainbow looking for some sort of treasure. Running as fast as his skinny legs will take him, he hopes to reach the end before it fades in the hopes that he will find a pot of gold(which he says he will use to move out of the projects). Crushed when his older brother won't help him chase down the rainbow, and even more deflated when the rainbow disappears, Pharoah's actions contrast the "adult" personality of Lafeyette(the older brother), and even contrasts the norms for many kids growing up in the projects. Repeatedly, children in this story are too far entwined into the dark side of their lives to ever catch a glimpse of a rainbow, much less bother to chase something. It is interesting...