A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich

by Alice Childress
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What is the purpose of Rose bringing up all of the problems of the people in the neighborhood in A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich?

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Rose, Benjie's mother, is well aware of the troubles in the neighborhood. In fact, the word "trouble" itself is said by Rose multiple times throughout the novel, especially when describing the lives of those who live in the neighborhood. The intent of the author—through the Rose's voice in the story—is to show the humanity of the characters; that they are mortals who are just struggling in a lower middle-class neighborhood. She reminds Benjie and the readers that trouble is always lurking around the corner. She is concerned that Benjie is being deeply influenced by the environment around them. This becomes evident with the way Benjie speaks, the way he thinks, which is fatalistic, and his eventual addiction to heroin. His introduction to drugs was through people in his surroundings, which is why Rose mentions the troubles of others (i.e., addiction). She also points out the problems of others to preemptively defend her own family's affairs from the gossip and judgment of neighbors.

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