Amazing Grace Essay

Amazing Grace Essay

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Using the themes we have examined in this course discuss the situation of the children in Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace. Who defines them as 'other'? How? What makes them feel like 'nobodies'? What makes them feel like 'somebodies'? What is the role of religion in this daily struggle for human dignity?


Drugs, violence, prostitution, pollution, infestation, and sickness of all kinds are present in South Bronx, New York. Unfortunately, children are surrounded and involved in all these problems and more. In Jonathan Kozol’s novel Amazing Grace, an evil reality full of racial segregation and alienation affect the people living in the ghetto. The personalities of these children are changed forever due to the existence of discrimination.

When people from the South Bronx neighbourhood go to stores, hospitals, or churches outside of their own area, there is a sense of rejection. “They’re right. I don’t belong in a nice hospital. My skin is black. I’m Puerto Rican. I’m on welfare. I belong in my own neighbourhood. This is where I’m supposed to be.” (Kozol, 176) This is the common reality that plagues the adults. Consequently, a society that discriminates against people due to their skin colour and status contributes to the negative way these children think. If the adults are having a difficult time dealing with the issues already, what possibly could be on the minds of their children? Majority of the children believe they do not fit the social norms of the American society and therefore are treated like outcasts. The poverty-stricken children discuss with Kozol the reasons why they feel this way. “If you go downtown to a nice store, they look at you sometimes as if your body is disgusting. You can be dressed in...


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...(Kozol, 162) Reverend Overall is relaying the message through Kozol that for the society to allow a ghetto to form is unnatural. In addition, to let children live in the ghetto is evil.

Evidence of an American society alienating children due to racism only breeds more racism. This is why children living in the Bronx already face enough hardships while growing up and do not need the addition of racial segregation. In Martin Luther King’s response to the letter from Birmingham, “all segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.” (Module, 11c) The readers of Amazing Grace have seen the children’s personality damaged and soul distorted. The role of religion is to comfort the children through these hard times.

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