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A Child Called “It” is the autobiography of David Pelzer. The story takes place mostly at Dave’s house in Daly City, California. It is located in San Mateo County, where David grows up and the action takes place. He lives in a middle class neighborhood. It shares a border with San Francisco. It also takes place in Chinatown, San Francisco. This is where his Mom took them on day trips when it was a happier time. They learned about Chinese people and their culture. After their day trips, she would play Oriental music and decorate the house with Chinese lanterns.
The main characters of this story are David Pelzer, Catherine Pelzer and Stephen Pelzer. Dave Pelzer is the main character of the story. He is abused by his alcoholic mother named Catherine Pelzer. Ronald and Stan are Dave’s brothers. Stephen is Dave’s alcoholic father who in the beginning was his hero. He is a fireman. Stephen basically abandons Dave and stopped interfering whenever his wife mistreated Dave. Miss Moss is Dave’s fifth grade math teacher was the first teacher to report the abuse to the principal when Dave was in second grade. Nothing was done to help Dave. Mr. Hansen was Dave’s principal and was the one who reported his case to the police. The story is about Dave’s childhood and the terrifying and horrific abuse from mother and brothers. It describes how his courage to survive saved his life.
Dave is a strong hearted kid who refused to let his mother’s abuse destroy him. He feared for his life but found ways to survive his mother’s malicious acts that nearly killed him. He was rescued when he was 12 years old. The major conflict in this story is between Dave and his mother. In the beginning, she was loving mother to Dave. However, the relationship between Dave and his mother changed drastically. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t say why she changed from loving mother to an abusive mother. She didn’t treat his brothers the same way. She was the loving mother to his brother while torturing Dave. His mother does everything possible to torture and belittle him. For example, one of the punishments she inflicted on Dave was making him eat his brother’s poop when she changed his diaper. Another time, she made him sit on a hot stove. It became so violent that she stabbed him at one point. She even went as far as making him do the dishes with a time limit. If he did not finish the dishes during that time, he would be forbidden to eat. If he tried to steal food from the garbage can, she would make him vomit and then eat his vomit. His father feels sorry for him and tries to help him in the beginning. However, he got to a point where he no longer got involved.
“Father was my only hope, and he did all he could sneak me scraps of food. He tried to get Mother drunk, thinking the liquor might leave her in a better mood. He tried to get Mother to change her mind about feeding me. He even attempted to make deals, promising her the world. But all his attempts were useless. Mother was a solid as a rock. If anything, her drunkenness made it worse. Mother became more like a monster.” (p50-51) This demonstrated how his father tried to him but it became useless to the point where he left and basically abandoned Dave. His mother and father argued more and more each day. His father began to change. Sometimes he would leave after a fight and his mother would drag Dave out of his bed and beat him until she got tired.
“By the time I had decided that there was no God, I had totally disconnected myself from all physical pain. Whenever Mother struck me, it was as if she were taking her aggression out on a rag doll. Inside, my emotions swirled back and forth between fear and intense anger. But outside I was a robot, rarely revealing my emotions; only when I thought it would please The Bitch and work to my advantage. I held in my tears, refusing to cry because I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of my defeat.” (p131-132) This quote demonstrates his courage to survive and not let his mother destroy him. He hated his mother more than anything in the world for every pain inflicted by her malicious acts.
The theme of the story is to show how humans have the ability to overcome anything. Even though Dave’s mother tortured and belittled, he became stronger in spirit which allowed him to survive. The moral of the story is no matter what life throws at you, stay strong and never give up hope. The relationship and the abuse between Dave and his mother is an excellent example of this theme. Dave had times when he wanted to give up but fought to survive and won. One incident clearly showed how his will to survive got him through. It was the day his mother made him swallow a spoonful of ammonia which almost killed him because he couldn’t breathe. However, his mother began slapping him, he burped and he was breathe again. At other times, she would make him swallow Clorox.
At the end (beginning), he was saved by Mr. Ziegler, his homeroom teacher, the nurse, Miss Moss his math, Mr. Hansen, his principal and a police officer. At first he thought he was in trouble, but soon realized they were there to help him escape his living hell. He was so afraid of what his mother would do to him when she found out. However, he was free from the abuse. I believe he was very brave to have stood up for himself and fought to survive. I found this story to be very inspirational. I enjoyed reading the book but not the circumstances behind the story. It made me feel very angry to see Dave being treated this way. No child deserves to be abused.
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