There Are No Children Here

by

Alex Kotlowitz

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Pharoah’s Stutter Symbol Analysis

Pharoah’s Stutter Symbol Icon

After the particularly violent summer of 1987, Pharoah Rivers develops a stutter whose intensity is directly related to his fear. This stutter symbolizes the trauma that children at Horner undergo throughout their childhood, as they are surrounded by brutal shootings, drug abuse, gang violence, and frequents deaths. Pharoah’s stutter also highlights the physical and emotional consequences of excessive stress on the human body and mind—and especially that of a child. For Pharoah, this stutter is initially a source of embarrassment but later becomes a challenge: an unfortunate obstacle that he is forced to face but, also, that he might be capable of overcoming. His tenacious attitude toward his stutter soon mirrors his attitude toward school, as he becomes convinced that he can learn to overcome it through hard work. His stutter, then, reveals both his vulnerability and his strength, bringing to light his determination to succeed in school and in life.

Pharoah’s Stutter Quotes in There Are No Children Here

The There Are No Children Here quotes below all refer to the symbol of Pharoah’s Stutter. 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.
Chapter 10 Quotes

Because he had lately responded to nearly every instance of violence and family trouble with the same refrain—“I’m too little to understand”—she feared that the problems, when he was at last ready to confront them, would be too deeply buried for him to resolve. Now, though, she was convinced that Pharoah’s attitude gave him some peace of mind and the strength to push on, so she avoided burdening him with stories of hardship.

Related Characters: Alex Kotlowitz (speaker), LaJoe Rivers, Pharoah Rivers
Related Symbols: Pharoah’s Stutter
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:
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Pharoah’s Stutter Symbol Timeline in There Are No Children Here

The timeline below shows where the symbol Pharoah’s Stutter appears in There Are No Children Here. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Family, Love, and Care Theme Icon
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Persistence, Luck, and Success Theme Icon
...children. He has an imaginative, loving spirit and desperately clings to his childhood, although a stutter he has recently developed reveals his fears and vulnerability. While LaJoe has promised herself to... (full context)
Chapter 6
Family, Love, and Care Theme Icon
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
The summer’s violence has deeply upset Pharoah and he develops a stutter that often keeps him from speaking, giving the impression that he has become physically incapable... (full context)
Chapter 7
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Persistence, Luck, and Success Theme Icon
...go back to school. He asks his mother when the strike will end, but his stutter keeps him from finishing his question. Knowing what he is trying to say, LaJoe still... (full context)
Persistence, Luck, and Success Theme Icon
...of their life, need it desperately to grow and feel safe. When she noticed Pharoah’s stutter on the first day of school, she was mostly impressed by the young boy’s determination... (full context)
Chapter 12
Persistence, Luck, and Success Theme Icon
...and training himself to relax and think calmly before speaking so that he will not stutter. On the day of the event, he wants his friend Rickey to be there, but... (full context)
Persistence, Luck, and Success Theme Icon
...how to spell, he becomes so excited that he begins to speak to fast. His stutter returns, and he finds himself unable to spell the letters out. The buzzer sounds, marking... (full context)
Chapter 15
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 19
Family, Love, and Care Theme Icon
Persistence, Luck, and Success Theme Icon
...for the spelling bee. Clarise always encourages Pharoah, even when he becomes frustrated by his stutter. (full context)
Chapter 30
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
...him along. Rickey buys Pharoah fries, while Lafeyette purchases his own. Suddenly, Pharoah begins to stutter excitedly, pointing to the first rainbow he has ever seen. The three boys are impressed... (full context)