Gang Leader for a Day

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Beer Symbol Icon

Beer has a first and straightforward function within the world of the Robert Taylor Homes – people drink it in order to drink it, and possibly to get drunk. Residents drink beer in stairwells and at outdoor gatherings on the grass and around the basketball court. The beer is relatively cheaply available at grocery stores, and many, especially foot soldiers in the gangs, drink it more or less steadily throughout the day. But for Sudhir, beer is also a form of social currency, a means of demonstrating that he is a meaningful part of the group he’s studying – the residents of the Homes, or members of the BK gang. When Sudhir is first “stuck” in the stairwell with BK foot soldiers, right as he is meeting JT and beginning his research, he drinks beer with some gang members and, on returning, brings beer for JT and others. Later, Sudhir finds that beer is an important method for announcing that he is willing to participate in the world he observes – that he is not “above” or “outside” it. It is fitting, too, that Sudhir is drinking beer with JT, relaxing, and reminiscing during their final visit in the Robert Taylor Homes, at the end of the book and before the homes are slated for demolition.

Beer Quotes in Gang Leader for a Day

The Gang Leader for a Day quotes below all refer to the symbol of Beer. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Hustling Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin edition of Gang Leader for a Day published in 2008.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Beer? ... You said I should hang out with folks if I want to know what their life is like.

Related Characters: Sudhir Venkatesh (speaker), JT
Related Symbols: Beer
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

This is Sudhir’s response to JT and the rest of the BKs he met the night before. Most likely, JT expected that Sudhir would never return, that he would go back to the University of Chicago with a story or two, as he hints during their last conversation – and that would be that. But Sudhir, to his credit, allows not even another day to go by. And he notices right away that there is a form of “hanging out” currency among the gang members: beer.

Thus Sudhir offers to drink and chat with the gang members, and to begin to listen to them rather than to impose on them a set of guidelines the University has created for the “study” of urban populations. It perhaps also helps that many in the BKs are not able to identify the culture from which Sudhir comes – he is a second-generation Indian American from California, but he works and studies at a largely white institution. Thus, Sudhir frustrates some of the most obvious divisions between Hyde Park and the Robert Taylor Homes.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Gang Leader for a Day quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire Gang Leader for a Day LitChart as a printable PDF.
Gang leader for a day.pdf.medium

Beer Symbol Timeline in Gang Leader for a Day

The timeline below shows where the symbol Beer appears in Gang Leader for a Day. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 - How Does It Feel to Be Black and Poor?
Teaching and Learning Theme Icon
Objectivity and Empathy Theme Icon
Crime and the Police Theme Icon
Poverty Theme Icon
...soldiers” in JT’s gang, known as the Black Kings – tell stories, smoke, and drink beer. JT comes back, after having conferred with his superiors, and talks to Sudhir again. He... (full context)
Hustling Theme Icon
Teaching and Learning Theme Icon
Objectivity and Empathy Theme Icon
...normal graduate routine that day, of classes and department business. But after showering, he buys beer and goes back to the same project. He finds JT and says that, if JT... (full context)
Chapter 2 – First Days on Federal Street
Hustling Theme Icon
Teaching and Learning Theme Icon
Crime and the Police Theme Icon
Poverty Theme Icon
...Robert Taylor. JT invites Sudhir to a party, with people standing outside eating and drinking beer in the sunshine, assembled around cars and basketball courts, and with music and general merriment.... (full context)
Chapter 7 – Black and Blue
Teaching and Learning Theme Icon
Objectivity and Empathy Theme Icon
Crime and the Police Theme Icon
...day, sitting outside and enjoying the fine weather, Sudhir is talking to JT’s uncle, drinking beer. A car drives quickly near Robert Taylor, and shots are fired from out its window... (full context)