Study Guide

The Orange Houses Orange Houses

By Paul Griffin

Orange Houses

You probably already guessed that the orange houses are important since they're in the title and all. But check out what Mik tells us about the houses she calls home:

<em>The Orange Houses were not orange. They were beaten brick the color of the sky this drizzly dusk. Some long-dead architect Casper Orange slapped together the nine jail-like towers way back when. Small, deep-set windows grayed cinderblock hallways noisy with need.</em> (3.2)

Okay. So the houses aren't orange—the guy who built them's last name was—and everything about them is pretty depressing. Mik even compares them to jail, for Pete's sake. And that "hallways noisy with need" bit? Yeah, everyone who lives in the Orange Houses is poor. And that means Mik and her family are, too.

This doesn't just give us a bit of economic info about Mik, though—it helps paint a picture of the world she lives in, along with Jimmi and Fatima. These are not high rollers, but people barely scraping by, and importantly, Mik is the most well-off of the group. Fatima can't believe she and her mom have a whole apartment instead of just a room, and Jimmi, well, Jimmi lives in a cave.

To Mik, the houses are a dump, a reminder of how much her mom struggles to keep them barely afloat. To Fatima, however, they are a dream. These conflicting attitudes on the houses demonstrate the differences in the girls' lived experiences: Fatima sees the houses as representing the potential for a brighter future, whereas Mik only sees the poverty that's in front of her. And because of this, the houses also represent perspective: They may not be orange, and they may not be awesome, but they are what you make of them.

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