Evicted

by

Matthew Desmond

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Arleen Bell Character Analysis

Arleen is a black tenant and the mother of Ger-Ger, Boosie, Jori, and Jafaris. She experiences housing instability throughout the book, is evicted multiple times (including by Sherenna), and sometimes is separated from her children in the course of their housing struggles. She also spends time living at the Lodge, a homeless shelter.

Arleen Bell Quotes in Evicted

The Evicted quotes below are all either spoken by Arleen Bell or refer to Arleen Bell. 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:
Poverty, Exploitation, and Profit Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Broadway Books edition of Evicted published in 2016.
Chapter 12 Quotes

In the 1960s and 1970s, destitute families often relied on extended kin networks to get by. Poor black families were "immersed in a domestic web of a large number of kin and friends whom they [could] count on," wrote the anthropologist Carol Stack in All Our Kin. Those entwined in such a web swapped goods and services on a daily basis. This did little to lift families out of poverty, but it was enough to keep them afloat. But large-scale social transformations—the crack epidemic, the rise of the black middle class, and the prison boom among them—had frayed the family safety net in poor communities. So had state policies like Aid to Families with Dependent Children that sought to limit "kin dependence" by giving mothers who lived alone or with unrelated roommates a larger stipend than those who lived with relatives.

Related Characters: Arleen Bell (speaker), Crystal Mayberry (speaker), Sherenna Tarver
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:

It was next to impossible for people to survive deep poverty on their own. If you could not rely on your family, you could reach out to strangers, make disposable ties. But it was a lot to ask of someone you barely knew.

Related Characters: Arleen Bell (speaker), Crystal Mayberry (speaker)
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Evicted LitChart as a printable PDF.
Evicted PDF

Arleen Bell Character Timeline in Evicted

The timeline below shows where the character Arleen Bell appears in Evicted. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue: Cold City
Poverty, Exploitation, and Profit Theme Icon
Hopelessness and Lack of Choice Theme Icon
...a man gets out. Jori runs into the apartment where he lives with his mother, Arleen, and younger brother, Jafaris. Jori locks the door but the man breaks it down, before... (full context)
Poverty, Exploitation, and Profit Theme Icon
Hopelessness and Lack of Choice Theme Icon
Arleen takes 13-year-old Jori and 5-year-old Jafaris to a homeless shelter called the Lodge, where they... (full context)
Poverty, Exploitation, and Profit Theme Icon
Hopelessness and Lack of Choice Theme Icon
Four months later, Arleen finds a better apartment, and the family moves there. The rent is $550 a month,... (full context)
Chapter 1: The Business of Owning the City
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...from an agency called Wraparound, asking if she has a unit for a client called Arleen Bell and her two sons. Wraparound will pay the security deposit and first month’s rent.  (full context)
Chapter 5: A Beautiful Collection
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Arleen is happy in her new home, despite the group of crack addicts who have recently... (full context)
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...Jafaris has a pretty bad asthma attack and Jori takes him home from school, where Arleen is waiting. Although Jafaris’ asthma has been improving, Arleen worries about him. He has been... (full context)
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Around the same time, Arleen met a man who was constantly in and out of jail. She got pregnant and... (full context)
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Inequality, Injustice, and Discrimination Theme Icon
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Since Larry left, Arleen has sometimes worked, but has often had to rely on welfare. As a result of... (full context)
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Arleen had rented a subsidized apartment for a period when she was 19, just after having... (full context)
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Before long, a woman named Trisha moves into the empty unit above Arleen’s apartment. Arleen and Trisha get along well. Trisha has a history of homelessness, sex work,... (full context)
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Sherenna calls Arleen and reminds her that she owes her $320 for her sister’s funeral in addition to... (full context)
Chapter 8: Christmas in Room 400
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After Arleen cannot recover from the debt she incurred from her sister’s funeral, Sherenna evicts her. The... (full context)
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...if she didn’t. Apart from her white friends, everyone she knows has an eviction record. Arleen, however, does come. On seeing her, Sherenna explains that she has to evict her because... (full context)
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Arleen also has multiple experiences with evictions, though some under different names. In the past, evictions... (full context)
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As soon as Arleen admits to the commissioner that she is behind on rent, her fate is sealed. The... (full context)
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Arleen and Sherenna both leave the courthouse with headaches. Arleen has not eaten all day. Sherenna... (full context)
Chapter 12: Disposable Ties
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Arleen is being evicted in one day and is still waiting for her welfare check. She... (full context)
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Alreen thanks her and hugs her, and both women cry. The new tenant’s name is Crystal... (full context)
Poverty, Exploitation, and Profit Theme Icon
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...make “disposable ties” with acquaintances and strangers. One day, a week after Crystal moves in, Arleen sits at the kitchen table circling apartment listings. Jori comes in from school, and Arleen... (full context)
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Arleen goes out looking for apartments, and while she is out she gets a screaming call... (full context)
Chapter 15: A Nuisance
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Trisha and Crystal have become friends. Arleen is still trying to find an apartment and is beginning to regret not going to... (full context)
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...satisfied when Sherenna proves that she has already issued an eviction notice for Trisha and Arleen. This exchange with the police embarrasses Sherenna, who does not want other people to think... (full context)
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Arleen is furious with Crystal. She cries out that now she and her kids are homeless.... (full context)
Chapter 17: This is America
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Sherenna decides to evict Crystal as well as Arleen. Arleen finds a new apartment, a one-bedroom at the top of the North Side going... (full context)
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Arleen cries while getting the apartment ready, and Crystal hugs her. Carol arrives and announces that... (full context)
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Arleen decides to stay at a shelter until she moves into the new place; this way... (full context)
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As Arleen and the boys leave Crystal’s again, the two women get into a screaming fight. Under... (full context)
Chapter 19: Little
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...turned away from 7 out of 10 rental units they approach. Like Ned and Pam, Arleen is also struggling to find a landlord that will take her and her boys. She... (full context)
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Eventually, Arleen has a stroke of luck in a building that seems to have been a former... (full context)
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Arleen decides to check if her cousin J.P.’s landlord has any vacant units. It will also... (full context)
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Arleen continues to search for a place. She and the boys briefly return to their old... (full context)
Chapter 24: Can’t Win for Losing
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Arleen gets a call back from a young landlord named Pana. She has told him about... (full context)
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...the North Side, but it is clean, and everything functions perfectly. Soon after moving in, Arleen learns that her relative Terrance, nicknamed T, has been shot and killed by his cousin.... (full context)
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Meanwhile, there has been a delay with Arleen’s food stamps after she submitted her change-of-address, and she needs to get her possessions out... (full context)
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Arleen and the boys go to stay with Trisha, who tells them that Little was run... (full context)
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...that the cold is finally gone. Trisha, Sunny and his relatives disappear from Trisha’s apartment. Arleen enjoys the time alone, assuming they’ve gone to visit family. However, then movers show up... (full context)
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Arleen and the boys move in with her sister, who charges her $200 a month even... (full context)
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Arleen cannot cope, saying she is going to have a nervous breakdown. She borrows money from... (full context)
Epilogue: Home and Hope
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If Arleen and Vanetta had been able to find secure housing that didn’t use up 80% of... (full context)
About this Project
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Some of the tenants had difficulty trusting Desmond (particularly Arleen, who maintained a suspicion he was from Child Protective Services for years). While living among... (full context)
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...money, and both buying and receiving food. Several of the tenants gave him thoughtful gifts; Arleen once gave him cookies and a card, and Scott began sending Desmond’s eldest son $10... (full context)