, Research Paper
H English 7
December 7, 1999
They Cage The Animals at Night
They Cage the Animals at Night is a heart-wrenching autobiography in the form of a novel. This book is written by Jennings Michael Burch, who is the main character. His father is an often drunk alcoholic and has left a family of six boys to his wife. The oldest is George, who follows the steps of his father and also gets drunk. He is also a smoker. Contrary to his father though, he tries to support the family, although he takes a lot from it. Next is Walter, who spends most of his life studying to prevent himself from following his father?s shadow. After him is Larry. He is Jennings?s favorite brother as they always went through the same things and felt the same way. Jerome comes next, yet he is sick through out most of the book, so he is not of significance. Next comes Jennings. He is twelve years old, and is always trying to pull the family together and keep mom from crying. He?s kind of a goody-two-shoes. Finally is Gene, who always gets what he wants. He?s about four years old when the book starts. Mother?s main goal is to have a closely-knit family and has the obstacles of alcohol to bypass. She becomes sick almost all the time.
One day, for an unknown reason mother became seriously sick and had stress related problems. Jennings was forced to go into a shelter home having nowhere to go. This was the first time. He was taken to the Home of Angels where he was treated roughly. There, he was directed by a clicker, and not knowing what to do, he was physically hurt. Soon a couple took him in their custody. They were even worse, as he was given small boundaries to live in and a table to sit at all day. There he was rarely fed, yet when he was fed, he was given some sort of gluey, grayish grub that tasted horrible. Eventually the husband ruled that Jennings was getting treated too badly and was taken back. After a while his mom had picked him up. Christmas had come and they ate a turkey that was donated to them. No gifts stood under the small tree they had gotten for free. School continued after the winter vacation, yet since Jennings had missed so much of it at the shelter, he was held back until the next school year. Many called Jennings cruel names, but he survived until summer vacation. One summer day he found a nurse with his mom and knew what was going to happen. He packed up and was soon picked up by a man that took him to Saint Teresa?s. He was disciplined through brutality and also found himself in meaningless fights with distressed children. After accidentally spilling hot chocolate at breakfast, he was slapped, and dragged over the uneven floor. He gained numerous cuts and was forced to stay in the nurse?s office for six days. He became tired of this and decided to run away. He did so, yet his destination was discovered by pedestrians and reported to the police. He was taken downtown and brought back to the shelter. Eventually his mom picked him up again. Apparently they had moved to a new apartment and had moved to a new school. The children were wealthier there and were more ahead than other schools. This was a problem for Jennings. The teachers knew of his poverty and refused bringing him up to level. To solve this, Walter helped him change his school. The teachers were better and the curriculum was at the right pace. Jennings had to take a bus to reach this school. He soon became acquainted with the bus driver and they became good friends. His name was Sal, and he seemed to understand everything. He was an orphan and had also gone into these homes. Again his mother?s health problems interfered with Jennings?s life. To prevent him from falling behind he was temporarily adopted by a wealthy family. Their house was enormous along with the room he was given. He was given new clothes and he had a pleasant time. Mother had picked him up again yet he was returned to another different apartment. This one was closer and didn?t require a bus, yet Jennings met with Sal anyways. Sal was soon playing the role of Jennings?s father. Sadly, his route had changed and he could not meet with Jennings. Jennings?s longed for Sal and wanted to see him badly.
Meanwhile, Larry had run away. This was because of being given too many chores. Jennings now gained those responsibilities and felt as though he must do the same. He ran away over the weekend, and found out that Sal did not work until Monday with his new schedule. He found a zoo and decided that would be the answer to his prayers. He stayed there and ate the remains of the customers? meals. Monday he met with Sal, when he was taken home. Sal had concluded that Jennings needed Sal too strongly and planed to meet with him more often. Therefore, during summer, Sal and Jennings?s family had gone on many trips.
School had started again and Jennings did pretty well. To ruin it though, his mom had back problem and he was taken to the worst home of all. Here he was slapped, and dragged on the floor as usual. He tried to escape yet he was caught coming down the fence. Eventually he was taken home and no later brought back to another shelter. On his first day he was awaken by a boy that claimed he was the strongest of all. Failing to answer on time, Jennings was punched in the face. He was dragged across the wooden floor by authorities. This was something that commonly occurred. In fear of further punishment he accidentally peed in himself and was told to strip and stand on a table. He was left there overnight, partially naked, holding a towel. In the morning he was surprised by the children that were told to learn from his mistakes. His towel was shoved off and the class roared in laughter. Anguished with pain and anger, he decided to escape. The police caught him again, except now he was a juvenile delinquent, and was to go to jail. He told the police officer his story and the police officer?s heart ached for him. Not in accordance to the police department?s regulations, the officer decided to adopt him to prevent him from going into jail. According to them, officers are not supposed to get involved in any cases. Luckily, he was given permission to have Jennings in his custody until five ?o clock the next day. He took Jennings to his own home and tried to contact Sal. Jennings had a good dinner and decided to go to sleep. The police officer?s wife loved Jennings and he knew they would be discussing. Sal was still not located. Jennings decided to eavesdrop and discovered they were going to keep Jennings until his mom was healthy, whether it meant his job or not. Knowing this created a great dilemma for Jennings. Should he run away and find Sal and risk being taken to juvenile hall or cause the police officer to lose his job. He had recently been told that he should only run away if he was sure he had a good reason. Was this a worthy cause?
This problem affected Jennings life in many ways. His mom was very weak and couldn?t bare the thought of her child as a juvenile delinquent. If he ran away and was found, she would probably be informed. If she did, that would make her condition even worse. If he were found he would not get an education at juvenile hall, yet if he stayed or found Sal, he would go to school and get a good education. It would pay off later. Jennings was told juvenile hall was horrible and personally didn?t want to go. He didn?t have the heart to make someone lose their job, though. To deal with it, he tried to ignore the situation, yet the topic returned to the top of his mind.
Jennings finally solves the problem by running away. He gains a food supply from the leftovers of a primary school and proceeds to the zoo where he hid earlier. One day he heard the voice of Sal and looked. It was Sal! Sal said someday he would take care of Jennings and the special day was then. Sal knew his boy well, and knew exactly where he would be. He learned in his discussions.
Jennings family loved Sal?s presence as they went on numerous trips. Now that he was home, Jennings met with his old friends. He gained an excellent education at school and became very happy.
If what Jennings did was actually true than I think he has a heart of gold. I think what he did was brave, thoughtful, considerate and nice of him. He is more of a philanthropist than a selfish person. It is hard to believe anyone would risk so much for someone else. He could have been raped, kidnapped, abused, or hurt. Roaming around in the streets isn’t too safe.