Child Of The Dark By Carolina Maria De Jesus Essay examples

Child Of The Dark By Carolina Maria De Jesus Essay examples

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In the favela of São Paulo, Brazil, 1958, Carolina Maria de Jesus rewrote the words of a famous poet, “In this era it is necessary to say: ‘Cry, child. Life is bitter,’” (de Jesus 27). Her sentiments reflected the cruel truth of the favelas, the location where the city’s impoverished inhabited small shacks. Because of housing developments, poor families were pushed to the outskirts of the city into shanty towns. Within the favelas, the infant mortality rate was high, there was no indoor plumbing or electricity, drug lords were governing forces, drug addiction was rampant, and people were starving to death. Child of the Dark, a diary written by Carolina Maria de Jesus from 1955 to 1960, provides a unique view from inside Brazil’s favelas, discussing the perceptions of good motherhood, racial disparities, and class inequities through the lens of impoverishment.
Through the years following the Great Depression, land for agriculture in Brazil decreased by half from 1938 to 1947. It left many people starving and unemployed. Rural farm workers flooded to the bigger cities of Brazil, attempting to find opportunities. Many could not find work due to jobs being given to European immigrants. If they could find employment, men got jobs in construction and women in domestic labor. Also, favelas were centers of death due to preventable disease such as typhoid and dysentery. Death of children under the age of five constituted 40% of deaths in the favelas. Author of Death Without Weeping, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, argues during her book about suffering in the favela that the concept of maternal instinct did not exist. This was because mothers’ expectations were that their children would die. If they did reach older age, they were expected to contri...


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...k” (130). Intersectionality of race and class was also pertinent. Racism and classism prevented poor, impoverished children from receiving any opportunities to improve their lives.
In sum, Carolina Maria de Jesus, the author of Child of the Dark, used her diary to describe and translate the suffering of the favelados of Brazil. Carolina wrote the diary knowing its fate: to be published. Namely, her comments and stories often came with a further political argument, and attempted to rouse people against themes of oppression. She displayed frustrations in having to work for miniscule amounts of money to feed her starving children, in the inhumanity of the blacks and the racism of the whites, and in the apathy of the largely white upper class to the impoverished. Her twisted words of a famous poet reflect the struggle of the favelas, mournfully stating, “Life is bitter.”

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