There Are No Children Here

by

Alex Kotlowitz

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Calvin “Bird Leg” Robinson Character Analysis

Lafeyette’s friend Bird Leg is a dog lover who, over time, becomes involved with the Conservative Vice Lords gang. Although he never sells drugs, he becomes passionate about gang rivalry and, at the age of fifteen, is killed by a member of the Disciples, a rival gang, during a dispute. Even though Lafeyette had started distancing himself from Bird Leg when he joined a gang, Bird Leg’s death impacts him deeply, marking the beginning of a long series of deaths of people close to the Rivers family.

Calvin “Bird Leg” Robinson Quotes in There Are No Children Here

The There Are No Children Here quotes below are all either spoken by Calvin “Bird Leg” Robinson or refer to Calvin “Bird Leg” Robinson. 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:
Family, Love, and Care Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of There Are No Children Here published in 1991.
Preface Quotes

They have joined gangs, sold drugs, and, in some cases, inflicted pain on others. But they have also played baseball and gone on dates and shot marbles and kept diaries. For, despite all they have seen and done, they are—and we must constantly remind ourselves of this—still children.

Page Number: xi
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

Lafeyette confided to LaJoe, who tried vainly to get him to verbalize his grief, that talking wasn’t going to help him, that everything that “goes wrong keeps going on and everything that’s right doesn’t stay right.”

Related Characters: Lafeyette Rivers (speaker), Alex Kotlowitz (speaker), LaJoe Rivers, Calvin “Bird Leg” Robinson
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Often, when Rickey became embroiled in a fight, he began to relive Bird Leg’s last minutes, and as he did so, his anger turned to rage. In class, he once choked another child so long and hard that, in the words of Pharoah, “he put him to sleep.” These flashbacks, which were nor unlike those of a traumatized war veteran, haunted Rickey for well over a year after Bird Leg’s death.

Related Characters: Pharoah Rivers (speaker), Alex Kotlowitz (speaker), Rickey, Calvin “Bird Leg” Robinson
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

Memories for Lafeyette became dangerous. He recalled nothing of Bird Leg’s funeral. He couldn’t remember the names of any of the performers at the talent show. He sometimes had trouble recounting what he had done just the day before in school. Shutting out the past was perhaps the only way he could go forward or at least manage the present. Besides, he knew, nothing could bring Craig back.

Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:
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Calvin “Bird Leg” Robinson Character Timeline in There Are No Children Here

The timeline below shows where the character Calvin “Bird Leg” Robinson appears in There Are No Children Here. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Family, Love, and Care Theme Icon
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
...to reckon with death and injustice on a deeply personal level. One of his friends, Bird Leg , known for loving and communicating with dogs, becomes involved in gang activity, finding love... (full context)
Family, Love, and Care Theme Icon
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
In the summer of 1987, Bird Leg is becoming increasingly reckless. He has since dropped out of school, and his loyalty to... (full context)
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Persistence, Luck, and Success Theme Icon
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
One day in August, Bird Leg is shot by a rival gang member with a buckshot and jokes to his family... (full context)
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
...proceeds to lead a group of Vice Lords to seek revenge on the Disciples for Bird Leg ’s death. However, policeman Charlie Toussas, who knows Lee well, interferes to keep him from... (full context)
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
A few days later, afraid that groups of Disciples would storm the young boy’s funeral, Bird Leg ’s family organizes the ceremony at a storefront church outside the neighborhood. At the church,... (full context)
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Carla Palmore, one of Bird Leg ’s friends, gives a speech about remembering that, more importantly than his membership to a... (full context)
Family, Love, and Care Theme Icon
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
...They hear a mother tell her son that he could have been killed just like Bird Leg , and they see gang members make the Vice Lords’ sign at Bird Leg’s body.... (full context)
Chapter 6
Family, Love, and Care Theme Icon
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
While he has not developed a stammer like his brother, since Bird Leg ’s death, Lafeyette has become more introverted, refusing to show his emotions and concerns. He... (full context)
Family, Love, and Care Theme Icon
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
Despite being haunted by Bird Leg ’s death and encouraged by his mother to articulate his emotions, Lafeyette concludes that talking... (full context)
Chapter 7
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Persistence, Luck, and Success Theme Icon
...Lafeyette and Pharoah refuse to attend the funeral, because they still have not gotten over Bird Leg ’s death. The strike finally ends in early October, and Pharoah is excited to start... (full context)
Chapter 8
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
Most importantly, Rickey was deeply affected by his cousin Bird Leg ’s death, since he considered him a big brother and actually witnessed him being shot.... (full context)
Chapter 14
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
...the head of the Vice Lords. Charlie Toussas recounts Lee’s plan to take revenge on Bird Leg ’s death by leading gang members to fight the Disciples. A police veteran expert on... (full context)
Chapter 21
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Persistence, Luck, and Success Theme Icon
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
Unlike Bird Leg ’s funeral, Craig Davis’s is organized at a reputed place, the city’s most famous black-owned... (full context)
Chapter 29
Family, Love, and Care Theme Icon
...the summer, Weasel gives Lafeyette and Pharoah two pit bull puppies, which remind Lafeyette of Bird Leg and his passion for dogs. While Pharoah ends up giving his away, Lafeyette enjoys taking... (full context)