There Are No Children Here


Alex Kotlowitz

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Themes and Colors
Family, Love, and Care Theme Icon
Violence and Growing Up Theme Icon
Persistence, Luck, and Success Theme Icon
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in There Are No Children Here, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Family, Love, and Care

At Henry Horner Homes (also known as the “ghetto” or the “projects”) in Chicago, family can never be fully separate from the exterior environment. While LaJoe Rivers hopes that she will succeed in keeping her children away from the drugs and gangs that plague their neighborhood, she realizes that she does not necessarily have the power to keep her family away from negative pressures. However, even though LaJoe feels disappointed in some of her children’s…

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Violence and Growing Up

Lafayette and Pharoah grow up in a public housing complex in Chicago where gun violence—the result of drug trafficking and gang rivalry—is part of ordinary life. Everyone at Henry Horner Homes grows up knowing friends and family members who have either been killed or have joined the ranks of brutal gangs. Even though many people in the neighborhood build resilience and develop techniques to deal with the frequent shootings and aggression, There are No Children

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Persistence, Luck, and Success

At Henry Horner Homes in Chicago, most inhabitants classify success as one day escaping their violence-filled, gang-controlled neighborhood and living a peaceful life somewhere else. For Horner residents, achieving success is a difficult process that requires a combination of determination, willpower, and luck. Using LaJoe’s niece, Dawn, and Pharoah as examples, the novel argues that succeeding in school and in life requires sustained commitment and persistence more than it does intelligence and talent…

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Justice and the Law

At the dangerous Henry Horner Homes neighborhood on the outskirts of Chicago, gangs often have greater authority than the police, and the law’s capacity to protect residents is limited. It’s no wonder, then, that Horner residents regard police with suspicion. What’s more, the flawed justice system often has the opposite effect than the one it tries to achieve: it breeds anger and resentment and, in this way, often lays the foundation for greater violence. The…

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