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
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.