Last Updated on March 12, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 758
Scott did not fight Tobin on his eviction. Instead, he found other living arrangements through Pito, his friend from Narcotics Anonymous. Pito helps other landlords maintain and fill their properties, so he gave Scott a good reference. Scott’s new two-bedroom apartment is on the near South Side. It does not have a shower, but rent is only $420 and the landlord does not require background checks.
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Pito’s nephew, D.P., is Scott’s roommate. D.P. is nineteen years old and was recently released from prison for weapons possession and tampering with a firearm. He is part of the Cobras gang and keeps a sawed-off shotgun around “in case things heated up with the Kings.”
Pito arranges for Scott and D.P. to clean out the empty trailer of an older tenant who died in a nearby trailer park. In return, they can keep all of his belongings. While they work, Scott notices cigarette burns in the man’s bedroom and realizes that he was likely on morphine. From Scott’s perspective, many people’s circumstances can be explained by drug addiction.
Scott still works for Mira, but she ran out of jobs for them to do because she had her men work for twelve hours a day. When they complained of exhaustion or pain, she sold them painkillers. Scott prefers to call Heroin Susie if he needs a hit because Mira’s pills are too expensive.
D.P. is dissatisfied with his life. He envies Pito for being able to “come home clean and leave the house clean.” He cannot envision himself doing this when he is thirty. Scott inwardly reflects that he could not, either, when he was nineteen.
Scott still buys Vicodin from College Mobile Home Park, where drug abuse is still rampant. Scott loves being high because it distracts him from his “shame of a life.” He got high with Pam and Ned right before their eviction. He figures they had it coming. Like many disadvantaged communities, the park’s tenants treat eviction like it is “deserved...the outcome of individual failure.”
- Earlier in the 20th century, tenants viewed themselves as a community capable of enacting change, especially in the face of steep rent hikes or evictions. They also invested in themselves and their neighborhoods, thus reinforcing the feeling that they belonged there. Landlords were more likely to be perceived as corrupt, and political mobilization could put tremendous pressure on legislation—as it did during the rent wars in New York City in the 1920s, which produced the rent controls that are still in place.
- Today, the poor are less inclined to unify and drive change. The daily struggle to meet fundamental needs leaves few resources with which to start a protest movement. Suffering becomes the unchallengeable status quo, and tenants tend to not care about having a corrupt landlord if their immediate needs are met. If, however, people do collectively agree that they are living under unjust and unacceptable conditions, they must also believe that they have the power to change things. In poor neighborhoods, this requires identifying as a member of an oppressed class, and “most trailer park residents were absolutely unwilling to do [this].”
- Like many trailer park tenants, most people in College Mobile Home Park are “‘just passing through.’” Settling down and improving things is rarely the goal. Though many of the park’s residents are helpful and supportive of each other, they often shame each other for their suffering, concluding that hardship is something earned. Many poor neighborhoods operate in this way; if people perceive their community to be “brimming with deprivation and vice,” they are less likely to be confident in each other’s ability to affect political change.
Scott calls his mother after a terrible week in which he both lost his apartment keys and his job. He tells his mother about losing his nursing license after becoming addicted to painkillers, though he omits having a heroin addiction. His mother is distracted by a van full of relatives, but tells him that he can “always come home.” Scott knows that this is not an option. His family cannot possibly understand what he needs or is going through; “middle-class relatives could be useless that way.”
Instead, Scott decides to go to rehab. He arrives one hour before the clinic opens, but finds that fifteen people are lined up in front of him. Only four people were accepted the day before, and only five people are chosen today. Scott returns home and goes on a three-day bender.