Review of A Child of the Jago

A Child of the Jago is a tale of poverty and misery. The book narrates the brief life of Dicky Perrot and draws a sketch of the conditions of the area. The Jago is a slum in Spitalfields that represents a world of its own. A world were honesty, decency and cleanliness are spat upon, as the Ropers are hated for these very qualities. The only law in force in the neighbourhood is this: the stronger feasts on the weaker’s corpse. Domestic violence is everyday reality and violence is the means of survival for the people of the Jago.

There is no moral or ethic in this horrifying reality: children are left alone to care for themselves. Hannah seems just annoyed by the presence of her baby. Looey is neglected and left to die alone. Dick is the only one who mourns her while their parents drink at the local pub. Looey becomes the symbol of an innocence that is crushed by the Jago. Those street dehumanize their inhabitants, depriving them of any trace of empathy or sense of beauty.

Some elements of the novel recall Dickens’ Oliver Twist: Wench is a Faginlike figure, who pretends to be a benefactor in order to exploit children’s desperate condition. he is killed by Josh Perrot, who escapes from an enraged mob in a scene strongly similar to Bill Skies’ runner. Morrison, on the contrary of Dickens, offers no chance of redemption. His heroes live a hopeless life, condemned to eternally repeat a cycle of poverty, misery and violence as eternal seems the feud between the Ranns and the Learys.

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