Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria Jesus

Carolina Maria de Jesus was born in 1915 in Minas Gerais, Brazil. She was an illegitimate child and grew up as an impecunious peasant. Carolina was ostracized due to the fact that she was a bastard child and was repudiated by the Catholic Church, however, she continued to recognize herself as a Catholic. Carolina eventually had three children, which are still living in the impoverished favelas of Brazil.

Carolina published a book known as Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus to educate people on the difficult life that not only she has had to endure throughout her life, but the struggle to ameliorate her children’s lives, which was an attempt that almost inconceivably failed. By publishing this book, she envisaged a bit of fortune and recognition that would help her family dearly; regrettably this was not the case. She was once again ostracized from her community due to the intentions of leaving the favelas and she was frowned upon; however, she continued residing in the favelas of Brazil with her family. Carolina often discusses the fights and sexism that she would battle daily with her crude personality. Rightfully so, some bias is expected since she is telling the story from her own point of view. The book was written as an autobiography to express how crucial it was to be liberated of Brazilian corruption and the influence these favelas had on their lives.

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The Child of the Dark takes place during 1955 to 1960. Her family is forced to live in the slums Brazil known as the favelas. These favelas are mostly mud huts made of the trash they find. These favelas reside in the hills where the citizens are completely impoverished. During this time, the government is lined with corruption. Police officers are taking bribes and incessantly breaking the law with no regard for people’s well being.

The government officials including Congress, the people controlling the government, and their flawed ideals disgust Carolina. Carolina wants nothing more for her children than for them to escape the slums in which they were born. She is often confronted and has to defend her children with uncouth behavior. Joao, one of Carolina’s sons, is accused of rape by a neighbor known as Chica. Carolina fears for her son’s impregnability and begins to contemplate taking her children to a public shelter. Soon after, two boys take refuge within her house and reveal the secrets of their sojourn in the shelter and the abuse that occurs.

Carolina shows interest in the political system of Brazil but is soon displeased and disappointed in the way the government is in favor of the affluent and push aside the suppressed poor. Soon a fellow man that lives in the favelas known as Manuel proposes to Carolina. Carolina is unable to marry him due to the fact that she has no interest in being married. She does rekindle her romantic life with Raimundo, a gypsy that is temporarily boarding near Carolina. Carolina believes that he is below her standard, however, when it is time for him to return home she is broken hearted by his departure. She then begins writing her novel, being her final hope of leaving such an appalling place.

There are two major aspects in which Carolina’s story is different from the general American public. One of those aspects is simply her surrounding environment while living in these favelas. She is impoverished and has no one to turn to, unlike modern day America where several government social programs are in place to help such people. The other aspect that we can learn from is the state of the government and the effect it has on their lives. They look to the government to somehow help them in their everyday struggles, and the government leaves them disappointed.

The government is unable to help the famished and unable to devote time for legal advice in the situation of her son’s alleged rape. In the United States an attorney will be appointed to you if you are unable to afford one, which is clearly not the case in Brazil. When Carolina makes the decision to personally view the meetings of Congress it showed how incompetent and corrupt the government of Brazil is. This had such a strong impact because, even though Americans bicker about the government, we are a strong government where corruption does not fill every position. Citizens of this country are also lucky to live in a place where every person is entitled to due process in a court of law, which is not the case in several governments through out the world. I have seen the injustice first hand as people have been arrested for simply speaking out against the government or even trying to create a new government without corruption of any sort.