Explore two characters' different responses to the consequences of revenge: "Sleepers" by Lorenzo Carcaterra

Essay by sugarnspice1000High School, 12th gradeB, May 2007

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“Revenge. Sweet lasting revenge”. The autobiographical novel by Lorenzo Carcatterra is a compelling true story about the depth of friendship, life changing experiences and the way some people deal with these events. The book is set in the mid 1960s in the Manhattan neighbourhood of Hell’s kitchen. Four ‘inseparable’ friends Lorenzo, Michael, John and tommy devise a plan to steal food from a hot dog cart that goes wrong almost resulting in the death of a man. From this one unintentional moment, their lives are changed forever. The book is fundamentally about revenge and retribution, following the physical, sexual and emotional abuse, at the hands of the guards in Wilkinson home for boys, where each are sentenced to 12 months. The boys after their stay at Wilkinson home are changed for life.

Carcatterra use the theme of friendship to justify Michael’s decision to not only gain further revenge on the guards at Wilkinson but also to help John get off the murder charge.

Throughout the novel, the importance of friendship in Hell’s kitchen is emphasised through such quotes as “life in hells kitchen was hard, life without friends was harder” and also “my friends and I were inseparable”. Michael upon leaving the Wilkinson Home decides to also leave Hells Kitchen. From all appearances it seems that Michael tried tolead a normal life, “that while an honest life may not offer much excitement, it pays its dividends in freedom”. Nonetheless he is unable to escape his past, and is thus consumed by the need for further retribution. However its John’s actions that provide the catalyst for a plan that Michael devises to bring the entire Wilkinson experience into the open. “its payback time Shakes, we can get back at them now. John and tommy started it.