There Are No Children Here


Alex Kotlowitz

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There Are No Children Here: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

When LaJoe receives her Public Aid check, she hires a taxi cab to go shopping with Rochelle in supermarkets farther from the neighborhood, where they charge much lower prices. She returns with enough food to feed thirteen people for a month. Back at Horner, she expects Pharoah to come running toward her to help her with the groceries, which he loves to do, but realizes that her son must have forgotten that today was grocery day. Pharoah has been daydreaming a lot lately and become more forgetful. He has also discovered a secret paradise: a condominium complex called Damen Courts where he sits in the grass for a while and forgets about the violence at Horner, without having to fear for his security.
Horner residents are doubly disadvantaged. Not only do they live in poverty, but the few stores in the neighborhood charge higher prices than those in other neighborhoods, which limits residents’ purchasing ability even more. Meanwhile, Pharoah’s daydreaming emotionally protects him from the chaos and violence around him. At the same time, the forgetfulness that accompanies this attitude is worrisome, as it suggests that the stress he has lived through might have affected his very memory in an unconscious way.
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In the weeks following Jimmie Lee’s conviction, violence at Horner slows down a bit. This allows Pharoah’s stutter to subside, and he and Lafeyette go to an outdoor swimming pool or to the Boys Club to play. Pharoah still wants to return to the railroad tracks but everyone refuses to take him, as rumors have spread of more dangerous tales of violence taking place there. After hiding the truth about Damen Courts for weeks, he finally tells LaJoe about it, revealing that he feels completely carefree there.
When Pharoah’s stutter subsides with the decrease in violence, it becomes obvious that his stutter reflects the intensity of his fear, serving as an unconscious measure of the instability around him. Pharoah’s desperate pleas to return to the train tracks reveal not only his desire to forget about to violence, but to engage in play and exploration—childish, lighthearted activities that he has often been denied.
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