Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Individual Perspectives in the Same City

Throughout all of our readings we have focused on the fact that in each city the perspective of the city changes depending on the individual. Initially we read Calvino’s Invisible Cities, which held a number of vignettes of cities. Many of those stories focused on the fact that individuals see the same city a different way. Calvino illustrates that these differing perspectives add dimension to the city and allow the many “faces” of the city to develop. We later see this in Achebe’s No Longer at Ease when Lagos is portrayed from both the perspective of the poor and the rich. In Black Rainbow Wendt illustrated the different views of the city between the “Ones” and the other people whom followed the government’s strict rules.

In Laura Lippman’s Butchers Hill she clearly defines the lines between herself and the rest of Butchers Hill, between herself and Luther Beale, between herself and Jackie Weir, and between each of the witnesses to Luther Beale’s crime. I thought the most interesting distinction was between Sal and Treasure. Both of the boys began in the same situation: poor and orphans. It was interesting to see that Lippman took into account that although people begin in the same circumstances, they can end up in very different places later in life. The description of Treasure in the abandoned house was an accurate description of many poor youths in Baltimore. The description of Sal was slightly different than most of the descriptions of inner-city youths. The meeting with Sal was also extremely interesting. When Tess met up with him he was most affected by, “the mention of the other children, Treasure, Destiny, and Eldon” (128.) Even though boys like Sal come out of the ghetto of Baltimore they will never forget their history.

Sal worked hard for an opportunity to get out of the ghetto of Baltimore. He now holds the opportunity to view Baltimore very differently than Treasure, Destiny, and Eldon ever will. His situation very closely related to the students at St. Ignatius Loyola Academy. These students are given the opportunity to get out of the poor ghettos of Baltimore and into prestigious high schools and later, college. If they choose to take this path they will see Baltimore in a different light than their peers who weren’t able to attend St. Ignatius. I had a hard time believing Sal’s statement saying that he only got ahead because he was smarter. All kids should have the same opportunity, but I do agree that certain kids take those opportunities more seriously than others.