Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
No. 5 John Street

By Richard Whiteing

(English author and journalist, born 1840. The volume here quoted is one of the most amazing pictures of slum-life ever penned)
SOME are locked in all day, “to keep ’em quiet,” while their owners go forth to work or to booze. The infant faces, lined with their own dirt, and distorted by the smeared impurities of the window-panes, seem like the faces of actors made up for effects of old age. The poor little hands finger the panes without ceasing, as they might finger prison bars. The captives crawl over one another like caged insects, and all their gestures show the irritation of contact. But the clearest transmission through that foul medium is to the ear rather than to the eye, in the querulous whimper, at times rising to a wail, which betokens the agitation of their shattered nerves. The children playing below look up at them, and beckon them into the yard, or make faces at them, with the charitable intent of provoking them to a smile.  1

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