What grade would you give this?
Sorry, it's a little long. This is only a rough draft. I'm in 8th grade, and this is a literary analysis of the coping techniques used in the book There are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz. Because of copying the essay from word, there is some issues with italics and stuff like that. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks
Throughout There are No Children Here, we learned of the devastating crime that takes place on a daily basis in the Henry Horner homes. More importantly, we learned about the vastly different ways of dealing with it. In the 305 pages of Kotlowitz’s book, Lafayette and Pharoah take different paths to survive and cope with Horner’s many faults. There are three people who’s coping strategies I have chosen to examine: Lafayette, Pharoah, and myself.
During the duration of There are No Children Here, Lafayette developed a cold attitude to deal with his environment. Kotlowitz notes that after Craig’s death, Lafayette started to forget things (263). Lafayette is not as strong as his mother perceives him to be. Had he been really, emotionally strong, he wouldn’t need to block out the pain from losing a friend. Lafayette also shows denial by refusing to recognize the fact that Craig is dead and won’t come back. After Craig’s death, Lafayette also developed a deeper mistrust for others. It doesn’t come as much of a shock that he doesn’t trust people very much, in fact, it would be somewhat odd if he did. After being lied to and disappointed by his own father, it seems that distrust is Lafayette’s natural inclination. In a neighborhood consumed by violence, Lafayette’s coping strategies show a younger, more resistant side to him, whether he means for it to or not. He is unable to create a healthy way of survival that a mature person would be able to. It seems as though both boys coping strategies shine a light on their true personalities.
Contrary to Lafayette’s cynicism, Pharoah chooses to accept his own naivety and holds on to the small sliver of hope he is allowed in a hopeless community. At the Boy’s Club yearly talent show, the announcer asks the crown if they love their country. While the rest of the crowd says they don’t, Pharoah quietly says he does (Kotlowitz, 181). Some readers may have thought that Pharoah’s hope and faith that he keeps in dismal surroundings are immature, but I disagree. Pharoah’s behavior shows readers that he believes in a brighter tomorrow. His coping strategy is simple- to believe that there is a bright side. Kotlowitz also describes a day when Pharoah buries his two goldfish (77-78). While most people might just flush their goldfish down the toilet, Pharoah chooses not to. By buring his goldfish, he acknowledges that he is sad, but deals with it in a healthy way. Pharoah is healthier than Lafayette when he deals with problems. He chooses to see the bright side, which prevents him from becoming depressed like Lafayette did. Pharoah doesn’t block out and ignore his problems, but still doesn’t let them get to him. Maturity is shown, and it benefits him in the long run.
I may not live in the same neighborhood as Lafayette and Pharoah, and I don’t encounter the same daily problems that they do. Reading There are No Children Here compelled me to think about how I cope with problems, and who I most relate to in the book. I know everyone has issues they have to deal with, but whenever I am upset or angry or troubled, I call my best friend. This always makes me feel more uplifted than before, but Pharoah and Lafayette don’t have the luxury of a telephone or even a best friend. Lafayette only has his “Acquaintances”, and they most likely don’t even have a phone. This shows me how lucky I am, but also, how the Henry Horner homes really hurt the families chances of coping and surviving. I also consider myself an optimist. If something goes wrong, I can try to convince myself that it will be okay and that it all has to be alright. While I can tell myself this, Lafayette and Pharoah’s family can’t, because it probably won’t be. Pharoah must have to work hard to see the good, because unlike my community, it isn’t always there. Of all the characters, I think I am the most like Pharoah. We both are optimistic, and that has proved to benefit me, as it does him. Reading There are No Children Here has made me examine not only my daily problems, but how I deal with them.
In a neighborhood ruled by gangs and controlled by violence, one has to have a coping strategy. Lafayette and Pharoah may be brothers, but they are certainly not alike in their ways of dealing with things. The choices they made affected their lives greatly during the span of time Alex Kotlowitz spent with them. I have learned that all of my problems are nothing compared to theirs. I’ve also learned that being optimistic will give me assistance in the future and will also better me as a person, like it has Pharoah, It’s also taught me that the way you cope with struggles and hardships can’t al
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