The City of God

The City of God encapsulates the cyclical, practically inescapable favelado life. Brazil, like much of Latin America, was dealing with a state dealing with agrarian reform, lack of effective/attainable education systems, inaccessibility to work, and higher costs of living. Because of the concentration in wealth residing in large, industrial cities ”the state of Rio de Janeiro was a showcase for the decadence of the old agrarian regime and the flight of labor to the metropolises” (Pino 20). However, “relocations to the city did not result in the incorporation of these landless landowners into the urban labor force” (Pino 20). Because of the explosion of people moving the larger cities and industrial areas, favelas were created “on the periphery instead of moving to the slums of the inner city” because they offered city rights, closer opportunities to work in construction, and they were out of sight, out of mind in regards to The Rio de Janeiro Code of Public Works (Pino 22).

The police… are quite happy to allow the killing in the City of God to carry on as  long as it does not escalate out of control, and affect their ‘clients’, the middle classes” (Hart 206). There is  a well-known trade involving guns and drugs between the favelados and the police, but that trade-off also seems to assert their ineffectiveness as the keepers of order. If faced with authority and your successful business involving drugs is threatened, then more than likely there are two options these favelados seek out: either run, or make another business contact. The authority turning their heads away from the entangled web of power in the favelas makes the cyclical process harder to eliminate.

At the most basic level, holdups were common to quick money. Though they were non-violent for the Trio, L’il Z found his insatiable thirst to kill through these holdups. He found it amusing to ruthlessly murder the people at the hotel. Not only the lighter-skinned occupants of the hotel, but the laundry women and cooks. To me, this showed his resentment toward the upper-, middle-, and working classes. Access to work in the favela was present, but with little return. Access to schooling was also present, but unnecessary in the life of a hoodlum. There seemed to be no desire to escape the favela, besides Rocket, Benny, and Angelica. Just as we saw in the case of Benny, the hood seems inescapable. His turned-around life with Angelica replaces guns, drug dealing, and violence with new duds, disco, and love. His going-away party that is celebrating his new life with Angelica and moving away to a farm is cut short when he is shot. The City of God followed him til his death; it proved to be impossible to survive. And why would Carrot and L’il Z and their gangs want to escape? They were on the periphery between prime places to deal drugs, rob, and make money fast, but could escape to their maze of the favela that proved to be dangerous to all outsiders. It was their “base”, their “home-free.”

Children are practically bred for war as they are the lowest ladder rung in the world of drug dealing. At the end, Lil’ Z is broke and suggests going back to holdups (his original idea as a child in the hotel raid), and the “runts”/children of war shoot him and take over the drug war. The circle continues… illiteracy and poverty seem to be the root of the problem, and the lack of an effective police force promotes self-advancement and the ghetto remaining the same.