Sleepers Essay

2953 words - 12 pages

Identifying Information
Lorenzo 'Shakes' Carcaterra was a boy from Hell’s Kitchen, New York, in the 1960’s. Shakes is of Italian decent and lives with his father and mother in a small apartment. Lorenzo’s father worked long hours for little pay and quickly angered and used violence to control the household. Shakes witnessed the physical and emotional abuse of his mother. He never confronted his father, but always tried to play the peacekeeper between the two. Shakes mother was not fluent in English and had a hard time connecting to the community and her son. The trauma that Shakes went through because of the domestic violence shaped his psychological and social development. Respect and friendship are things that Shakes does not take for granted and would do anything in his power to always keep these two things. Shakes was a resilient kid and sought social support from three boys: Thomas "Tommy" Marcano, Michael Sullivan, John Reilly and various other men in his community.
Character Development and Functioning
One big social support for Shakes was the local priest, Father Bobby. Shakes was able to connect with the priest and had a form of accountability. Shakes participated in the Church and had interest in becoming a priest because of the power he saw in the role. Father Bobby kept an eye on the boys and wanted to prevent them from getting into the life of crime within the community. Shakes was able to have conservations with Father Bobby and listened to his advice. Hell’s Kitchen is a community in Manhattan, aligning the Hudson River, was a blend of Irish, Italian, Puerto Rican, and Eastern European laborers. Hell’s Kitchen is a community of immigrants where men work really long hours and the women are responsible for child rearing while the family survived on a minimal salary. The community has a strong Catholic culture and everyone attends Mass even if they do not practice their faith on the streets. There was no crime in the neighborhood against one another. If there was, there were severe consequences that usually ended in death. The neighborhood kept the order and had no problem correcting people when they step out of line. According to Shakes, “Hell’s Kitchen is a place of innocence ruled by corruption” ("Sleepers", 1996). The ruler of this community is King Benny, who was an older criminal with earned respect from the community. Hell’s Kitchen has the reputation of being closed off and diligent at keeping things about the people in the community within those walls.
Presenting Problems
Shakes and his friends were involved in a prank, on a hot dog vendor, that nearly killed a man. Tommy, Michael, and John were sentenced to serve 12 to 18 months at the Wilkinson Home for Boys. Lorenzo was sentenced to 6 to 12 months. At Wilkinson, guards Sean Nokes, Henry Addison, Ralph Ferguson, and Adam Styler abused the boys emotionally, physically and sexually. Out of shame, the boys told all of their families to not visit...

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