Children of the Streets
By Harlan Ellison
This is a collection of juvenile delinquency stories from the 1950s.They are all set in NYC where Ellison grew up.
High school didn’t work then for many teens and still doesn’t work, 60 years later. That’s my opinion because I’m generally anti-school. It’s just basically a place to put people, to condition them to be productive and obedient workers in a complicated society that separates people into categories of age when they might be better off intermixing more organically. I don’t think children should be separated from adults all the time as schools do. Some of us, even when very young, can feel that it is not right, and certainly not nurturing. Most find ways to more or less cope. The ways some find to get through it are not helpful to the community at large. In school the education comes primarily from one's peers.
There is a lot of gang stuff in the stories. Much of it rather extreme with deaths occurring at “rumbles”, even a principal assassinated with a zip gun. That stuff gives the book a feeling of melodramatic unbelievability, but who knows maybe things like that actually happened. After all Tony did get killed in a rumble in West Side Story.
Anyway, the book provides a view of a system that doesn’t work.
I don’t think high school is much better now. Since there was no legal abortion when the kids in these stories were born, many of them were likely unwanted which is not a good position to start life from.
The book has stories of bullying of a gang type and the feeling that high school is almost like prison.
But that’s OK. If school doesn’t work, just bring in more cops, or, as I have been hearing in the news, just arm teachers and other school workers.
Great, good luck, but I’m telling you that isn’t going to work either.
This is the first Ellison I have read. It’s a good read with action and conflict filled pulp fiction type stories. The 1950s gang jargon is fun to decode.
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