In the film Cidade de Deus, it shows the excessive struggles within the impoverished people of the favelas and specifically what those people of these shantytowns engaged in, in order to reach their idea of control and power throughout the neighborhood and over other people living within this area. This usually constituted in murder, fights, drug dealing, and any other way to exhibit their supremacy over everyone else. As stated in Stephen Hart’s article, “Cidade de Deus”, “The life which is portrayed within the film, as in the novel, is a dog-eat-dog existence, one in which, as Rocket says ‘Fight and you’ll never survive. Run and you’ll never escape.’” The people mostly portrayed in this film had nothing else to do than to start trouble and kill anyone who got in their way. At the beginning of the film it did not start off as such with the trio of boys, Chipper, Shaggy, and Goose robbing a truck and a motel but not intending to harm anyone until you find out later in the movie Li’l Ze (formerly Li’l Dice) ran into the hotel, murdering the people inside.
At this point in the movie is when the viewer gets a hint of racial discrepancies and separation with the young black boys robbing the hotel and the middle class white couples within the rooms. As noted in Ney dos Santos’ article, “Favelas and Ghettos: Race and class in Rio de Janeiro and New York City,” of the notable segregation between the racial-differential classes. Santos points out that most favelas in Brazil and ghettos located in the United States are mostly consisted of the lower class individuals and made up of blacks and Hispanics. Santos does state that the difference between the favelas in Brazil and the ghettos in New York City are that “the favelas are racially mixed, even though black make up the majority of the population.” This mixture in the film is seen with the presence of those that aren’t of African descent such as Thiago and Angelica. But the segregation is seen between the two races by the white couples in the hotel rooms as mentioned above, or the white man driving the car through the City of God when Shaggy and his girlfriend, Berenice, jump into his car. It isn’t really mentioned what he doing driving through at this time but it is implied that he is of an upper social class since he owns a car and having on his button down, white shirt. This separation of classes is also displayed in the law enforcement officers being of a lighter-skinned race, and the newspaper employees being of what seems to be European or Spanish descent. Either way the notion of separation between the black and white races are notably depicted within this film.
As stated by Julio Cesar Pino in his article, “Labor in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro, 1940-1969,” that the favelas are more equivalent to the slave quarters. This idea being further emphasized in Santos’ article when he quotes Kenneth Jackson in describing the residential patterns of the once enslaved people wanting to move opposite of their once white owners, resulting in an overflow of blacks into certain parts of town with their new-found freedom in being able to choose where they lived, which was as far away from their former masters as possible. And we see this in the film basically with the lack of the upper-middle classes, since the film was mainly focused on the lower-classes living quarters.