Study Guide

The Orange Houses Injustice

By Paul Griffin

Injustice

He was eager to get back to the Bronx. His girl hadn't written him since a month before the suicide bomber. He left messages on her machine and her mother's, but neither woman called him back. Thirty feet into Bronx West he got his story. His gal lost the baby late term, then slit her wrists. (4.6)

What Jimmi goes through both at war and when he returns home is completely unfair. There's no explanation for it, no rhyme or reason, nothing that can explain the injustice that he endures. We pity the guy. But does that excuse his actions after this? 

He had escaped a horrendous refugee situation a few years before. He was known to help illegals with connections to work and housing—for a price. (5.4) 

Fatima has to be careful when she gets to NYC. She can only trust people who will help illegal immigrants, and she learns pretty quickly <em>that</em> group is pretty small. It seems unfair that she escaped Africa for a better life, only to face more hardships in America. 

He closed his eyes but still saw her, would always see her. Why didn't he grab her as she skipped past him? Could he have stopped her from detonating that IED? What would have happened if he never signed on for overseas action, if he stayed home to be with his lady? Would he have saved his baby that night? Saved Julyssa? (8.9) 

The little girl with the bomb haunts Jimmi's nightmares. He keeps searching for answers, pondering his life on repeat. Here's the thing about injustice, though: It doesn't make sense, no matter how hard you try to explain it. 

Fell asleep in his office with a lit cigarette in his mouth last night, the fire department figured. (16.11) 

Joe's death seems anticlimactic. He's a good guy, helping out Mik and Jimmi and asking for nothing in return, and his untimely end reminds us that not all good people are rewarded with wealth and opportunity. 

Crew Shanelle rolled up the sidewalk. "Deaf b**** can't get no real friends, she stuck with a Zulu terrorist." Shanelle got in Fatima's face. "You ain't nothin'." (27.31) 

It's out of line for Shanelle to say this about Mik <em>and </em>Fatima. But while her intolerance for others is pretty out of control, it also shows us the amount of injustice in society, right down to the way people talk to one another. This is not the first time Fatima is labeled a <em>terrorist</em>, and we're certain it won't be the last either. 

"Sixty-five grand. I'm <em>pro bono</em>, but you'll need that much for the application fees, fines, and the expeditor. And like I told Mrs. Sykes on the phone, the minute he takes your cash—and it's got to be cash—that's it. Win or lose, you don't get it back." (32.4) 

The excessive fees Fatima will have to pay to get papers for herself and her sister seem like an injustice to her at the time. Where is she supposed to get her hands on that kind of dough? 

The local newscaster said, "… abducted on her way home from school by an emotionally disturbed veteran. What makes this story especially horrible is that Mika, as she is known to friends, is hearing impaired." (36.7) 

Even though the news report isn't true, it incites a riot from the people. Though the mob thinks they are <em>helping </em>right a wrong, they are actually just perpetuating injustice. Jimmi is saving Mik, not kidnapping her, but that doesn't matter to the mob. 

They roped him up by his ankles, threw the line over the streetlamp's arm and heaved him high. They physical pain was nothing compared to seeing them upside down with fever in their eyes. (38.22)

Jimmi's hanging is injustice at its worst. He was helping Mik from Shanelle's mob, yet the details matter little to the mob—they only care about hurting him because he's a kidnapper in their eyes. 

Our reward money line got an anonymous tip about an illegal from a country on our terror watch list. The call triggered a priority check. The report has been filed. She's in the system now. Fatima, I'm sorry, but do you have any ID? (40.14) 

Is it fair for Fatima to be deported? We don't want to get into the whole immigration debate, but the book asks us to think about whether this is fair or not. On the one hand, it seems like an injustice because of how it comes about, but on the other hand, the police officers are legally required to take her away after receiving a tip. We'll let you decide. 

The nurse come up to him, tell him she gonna call security if he don't leave, she warned him the last time, "No more methadone for you tonight." He ain't listening to her, his eyes on me as he's backing away. I'm yelling at him, "Yeah, course she's legal," but it's too late. He's nodding, sad eyes desperate, on a scramble for the exit. He's one of them dudes always dialing 555-TIPS for reward money to raise cash for a score. (41.11) 

It's too bad for Fatima that she gets deported, especially after she helped Jimmi. Just like with Joe Knows, we see that good behavior doesn't necessarily yield just results.  

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