Style of There Are No Children Here
There Are No Children Here In Kotlowitz's description of the harsh realities of the Chicago projects, three stylistic elements stand out: his precise narration, his bluntness, and his questionable objectivity. These three elements blend to form a unique style that is particularly well-suited for There Are No Children Here.
If there is one thing on which critics agree when discussing this book, it is that Kotlowitz is a brilliant narrator. He has a keen eye for the daily particulars of this dangerous neighborhood. Adding to this strength is the fact that he spent years in one particular Chicago project, earning the trust of his informants. What ensues is a story that is told masterfully.
Kotlowitz conveys not only the hardships that Lafeyette and Pharaoh face, but the effect of those hardships on the boys, as well. For example, after the two children dive under cover during a drive-by shooting, both are visibly affected. The younger brother, Pharaoh, laments, "I worry about dying, dying at a young age." The older of the two, Lafeyette, tells his mother, "Mama, I'm real tired. Anytime I go outside, I ain't guaranteed to come back" (Kotlowitz 157).
These two direct quotes increase the impact of the passage infinitely. Kotlowitz's narrative technique is extremely effective in giving the reader deeply affecting portraits of the two brothers (Siler 14). It is Kotlowitz's ability to recognize the details that are essential that makes his narration brilliant and memorable.
Kotlowitz's effectiveness as a narrator is strengthened by his bluntness. For example, when dealing with the clean-up of the basement, Kotlowitz spares no details in his description: "Some Chicago Housing Authority employees wearing moon suits and gas masks clean the basements at Henry Horner, removing the animal carcasses and rusted appliances" (Kotlowitz 303)....