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Laughter out of Place - Chapters 4 and 5 by Mind Map: Laughter out of Place - Chapters 4
and 5
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Laughter out of Place - Chapters 4 and 5

"Laughter ouf of Place" by Donna Goldstein. Mindmap created by Jonathan Leventhal

Chapter 4: No Time for Childhood

Pedro Paulo

Gloria's son, Pedro Paulo, became one of the leaders of the Comando Vermelho (an imperialist drug-trafficking gang in Rocinha., Pedro Paulo was shot and killed a few months after he got out of prison., Gloria informed her ex (the father of Pedro Paulo), of his son's death. His father cried, but Gloria didn't because she had already lost contact with him and was "tired of shedding tears over him"., Gloria considered him to be her most intelligent child.

Goldstein and Gloria visited Pedro Paulo in prison., Pedro Paulo's girlfriend was pregnant with his child and wanted to have an abortion. Pedro Paulo told her if she aborted the baby, he would kill her., Gloria and Goldstein spent the night in prison (as visitors), and Pedro Paulo's friend put his hand on Goldstein's leg in the middle of the night. Goldstein threatened to tell Gloria, and he backed off.

"As an intelligent young man growing up in Rocinha, Pedro Paulo found the allure of gang life to be irresistible.", " It seemed to offer an alternative to backbreaking manual labor, at the same time promising a decent wage and offering instant economic improvement."

The Children of the Street

The Killing Streets, "On July 24, 1993, the front page of the New York Times carried a story titled 'Gunmen in Police Uniforms Kill 7 Street Children in Brazil'. 9 Hooded members of a death squad, who were actually off-duty police, killed seven homeless boys and wounded two others, spraying them with gunfire as they lay sleeping in front of the Candelária Church in the center of Rio de Janeiro", "In May 1992, Newsweek ran a feature article titled “Dead End Kids,” with the subtitle elaborating that “about 200,000 Brazilian children live on their country’s streets—and are in danger of being slain.", Children are sometimes depicted by the media, as the innocent poor, and sometimes as dangerous criminals.

"These children, out on the street begging, watching cars, and looking for work in the informal labor sector, also play a vital role in the household economy of their impoverished parents."

"Impoverished mothers in the favelas deeply fear that some of their children will find the street more attractive than their crowded, destitute, and sometimes contentious households. These women often initiate harsh forms of discipline in the hopes of keeping their children in line and off the street."

Hecht, "In his brutally honest ethnography of street children in Recife, Hecht (1998) makes an interesting and apt distinction between two forms of childhood in Northeast Brazil. He describes the class difference that results in differential childhoods for the rich and poor as creating either “nurtured” children or “nurturing” children: “Nurturing children, in essence, are poor children who from an early age take on serious responsibilities; they bring in resources to their mothers and nurture the household, activities they view as moral obligations. Nurtured children, on the other hand, are the coddled progeny of middle-class families", For the poor, children can be understood as an economic asset, and many take on the role of providers within their own homes and see this as a virtue

Gloria and her kids, Gloria would sometimes kick her children out to the street., Gloria made her kid eat his own excrement when he defecated in his bed past an age she considered normal.

"In Rio’s poor neighborhoods, homicide is the leading cause of death for young men between the ages of 15 and 24."


Institutions for poor, troubled children and orphans.

Crowded and dirty

Bedding and clothes were changed once a month, instead of once a week.

Kids were sometimes physically and sexually abused.

Children are given an education.

Chapter 5: State Terror, Gangs, and Everyday Violence in Rio de Janeiro


Gloria's ex-son in law, Adilson, was shot in the back of the head eight times.

Dilmar was the leader of one of the local gangs., Gloria insisted that Goldstein and Dilmar become acquainted.

"The gangs have a seductive quality that goes beyond their involvement in the drug trade. For many young men, they offer a place of belonging and a sense of identity that low-paying (and sometimes humiliating) service sector employment does not provide.", "The gang’s presence, in addition to being a seduction, was also a nuisance for some young men because it meant they had to watch carefully to stay out of the business of the gang."

"The danger of writing about local gangs in favela contexts is that such work could unintentionally reinforce the standard and erroneous position of middle-class and elite Cariocas who consider the favelas to be the breeding ground of all criminal activity.

"Drug chiefs are important local figures; they are often homegrown and locally based, and, as is well known, they provide badly needed services—for example, housing and cash in times of emergency—as well as a form of employment for youths."

"Alba Zaluar (1994:32) notes that while Rio’s gang culture is a form of organized crime, it lacks the centralization and organization—and therefore the connection with the state—that other historical forms, such as the Sicilian Mafia, maintained. The difference stems from a number of factors, including the fact that each local gang (quadrilha) has to maintain its own local base of protection and is not guaranteed protection by the larger, richer traffickers."


"Although talk about violence and crime proliferates across classes, the forms and levels of daily violence and suffering in the city are experienced differently according to class, race, gender, and location."

"Understanding violence within a specific population requires theorizing violence and learning about the actors who count in the neighborhoods where this particular kind of violence takes place. I begin with the obvious—the idea that violence is unequally distributed throughout Rio de Janeiro, with poor neighborhoods and shantytowns experiencing the highest levels of violence on a number of different scales."


"Many members of the police work during their off hours as death-squad members, settling personal vendettas or completing business that may have started during their official hours."

"Without social service institutions of the state made available to these populations, and without a reliable policing system, these kinds of problems create their own cycles of revenge and involve the gangs as on-hand substitutes. The following examples, in which local justice was meted out by the local gang, the police, or some combination of the two, shed light on the role of the gangs and on the complicated nature of police-bandit relations."

Certain problems in the favela are not handled by the police and must be handled locally. Some of these issues are sexual abuse, adultery, stealing, physical abuse, pedophilia and gun control., "Local poor communities would similarly have to develop some sort of force to protect themselves from the daily injustices in their own context, as well as from unprotected contact with police."

Some policemen are corrupt.

"The relationships between favela residents and the police produce a structure of regular violence practically unknown to middle- and upper-class citizens."


"Poor residents in the brown zones of Rio de Janeiro are criminalized by the middle classes and elites."

People use religion as a way to shield themselves from the violence that affects them.