Blocking the Transmission of Violence by Alex Kotlowitz

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Violence has been a common menace in many cities in the U.S especially in the streets populated by the Black-Americans. In the book ("Blocking the Transmission of Violence") written by the famous Alex Kotlowitz, we read about many instances of violence that involve guns among the marauding illegal groups in America. According to mortality statistics, most African-American men aged between fifteen years to thirty-five years die as a result of critical gun wounds and cold blood killings. These cases are mostly attributed to gang rivalry among the youths leading to the improper use of armory. This study focuses on some of violence incidences in both Hamlet and Blocking Transmission of Violence and their revenges.

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The first incident involves the killing of Emilio (nephew to Torres). Torres received the heartbreaking news that his close nephew had been murdered in the streets of Chicago, and his assailants had not been traced yet. The tragic news makes him furious, and he contemplates revenge on Emilio's killers. He puts all his plans aside and travels to Chicago to see his nephew's body, and when he arrives there, he meets his old friend who was once his jail mate in Pontiac Correctional Center in Illinois. He thought that his friend (Zale Hoddenbach) would back him in tracking Emilios killers and punish them, but instead, Hoddenbach, who is now a reformed person, tries to talk him down. Hoddenbach began advocating for peace in the streets by diverting these gangs attention from violence to other constructive activities.

How does violence relate to the causes and fate? Violence causes and effects directly relate to each other as the causes dictate the fate in each violence incident. Torres was once arrested for possession of an unregistered gun and stealing cars. At the time of his arrest, he was in a rush to make a hit. Probably, he would have shot someone on that particular day of his arrest. Also, Hoddenbach was serving time in the Illinois Maximum Prison for engaging in armed violence. However, the two characters took different directions after been set free. Hoddenbach alongside his other friends founded a peace group that would intervene between the street gangs and act swiftly to block any possible damage immediately they detected "beef" (animosity between two colliding groups). The organization dubbed as Ceasefire mainly aims to reduce violence and prevent it from transmitting further to young, vibrant youths in the streets of America. This plays a significant role in curbing bullet caused deaths; however, the group does not interrupt drug business. As the group is founded by former gang leaders, this influences youths to cease from violence and stick to the example portrayed by these reformed persons.

What are the similarities between Shakespeare and Alex Kotlowitz in portrayal of violence?

1) Both authors advocate for peace and frontier in sensitizing people against violence activities.

2) They both educate people on the importance of uplifting peace and living in harmony, hence, posing a positive impact on society through their writings.

3) They both condemn the high rate of cold blood murders in the streets. For instance, they both express their emotions about the menace affecting American children and women. Most funerals are attended by women and children as most men and youths are dead or busy engaging in violence and other illegal activities such as drug peddling and gambling.

4) They advocate for the kids that are left without fathers as a result of gang activities and those that are prone to the adverse influences.

In both Hamlet and Blocking the Transmission of Violence, both Ophelia and Torres are infuriated by the murders of their loved ones. They wish to avenge these deaths. However their plans are intervened, and they do not execute their plans. Shakespeare and Alex demonstrate intervention to vengeance; hence, it is clear that they are advocating for forgiveness and reconciliation to promote peace in the society.

However, there are differences between the two writers based on their writings about the causes and effects of violence. One of these differences is the motives behind the killings. For instance, in Hamlet, the series of murders are motivated by the quest to silence the truth while in Blocking the Transmission of Violence; killings are as a result of animosity and gang rivalry. An example of these claims is how Polonius, who was King Claudius spy, secretly listened to Gertrudes conversation with Hamlet and stubbed the aged eavesdropper in an effort to silence the truth. Alex and Shakespeare react differently to cases of violence. Shakespeare mostly focuses on violent acts perpetrated against women while Alex Kotlowitz focuses on violence that involves shootings and bullet killings.

Shakespeare use of violence incidences in his writings reflects on the attitudes of people during his time. It existed in different forms such as sacrificial killings, warfare, and rapes. According to Shakespeare and Alex Kotlowitz, violence is a venom that spreads like a contagious disease and if not tackled appropriately, may become a serious problem in society. To stop the menace, it is critical that reformed persons take the center stage in the campaign against violence by influencing people in a positive way and explaining to them about the repercussions of engaging in violence activities.



Fischlin, D. (2014). Hamlet (Shakespeare). Oxford University Press.

J., Kotlowitz, A., & James, S. (n.d.). The Interrupters. PsycEXTRA Dataset.

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