They Cage the Animals at NIght by Jennings Michael Burch | Teen Ink

They Cage the Animals at NIght by Jennings Michael Burch

January 19, 2010
By Anonymous

Is it worth it?

Theme: Sometimes people let the fear of losing someone keeps them from ever loving someone.

His whole childhood, Jennings Burch followed the same pattern. Meet someone you really love, become really close to them, and lose them. After a while, Jennings started to ask himself, is it even worth loving someone in the first place, when I know how much it will hurt when they leave my life? In the book, They Cage the Animals at Night, by Jennings Michael Burch has to recover from the pain of saying good bye, numerous times. Living with 4 brothers, a mom with a mental illness and a brother sick living in the hospital, Jennings coped with an empty stomach, ripped clothes, and many experiences with good byes. Staying in different homes, moving around, and staying at orphanages most of his life taught Jennings some very good lessons.

When Jennings first started thinking about if it was worth loving people he asked his friend, Sal. Sal was the old city bus driver that drove Jennings to school. After a month or two they had become very close friends. They were able to connect to each other because they were both so used to moving around, Sal was an orphan his whole life. One day, Sal told Jennings a very important meaning that an old man had said to him when he was younger.

“Sal crouched down on the ground in front of me, “You know, son, you and I have been through a lot of the same things- living in people’s houses, often hungry, never having more than rags to wear, and being made fun of more than most. It could have made me bitter and mean and angry, and for a while it did, but then something happened to change me.”… “What?”

“Well, I met an old man one day. He was sitting on a park bench that I used at night for sleeping. I told him to get off my bench. I told him to go find some other place to sit. Well, he got up and started to walk away, but then he stopped. He turned back toward me and leaned on his cane. He said, “You know, sonny, all my life I’ve been bitter and mean and ugly. I never went out of my way to be kind to anyone. I never went out of my way to talk to anyone.” He paused for a moment and then said, “That’s why I was sitting all by myself. He then turned and walked away.” After hearing this, Jennings started to notice that loving people and being nice may be harder to do than be bitter, mean, and angry, but may be it is worth it(159). Later in the story, a kid at Jennings’s school tries to apologize after making fun of Jennings, now Jennings could have either ignored the kid, or accepted his apology. By accepting his apology, Jennings made a new friend, and he did the right thing.

Even though Jennings was only about 8 years old through out the story, he has already met and lost many people. No matter how old you are that is a hard thing to deal with. I remember over the summer I lost my dog, Aspen. I remember at first I was crying so much that I had eventually forgotten what I was upset about, but tears still streamed down my face. Her and I were so close and I had many good times with her, and I didn’t want to forget what those times where like. I realized, even though it hurt to lose Aspen, all the amazing times I had spent with her made up for all the pain.

Later in the story when Jennings loses his companion Sal, to another bus route in the Bronx. He run into his room and jumps onto the bed hugging his “doggie’” and pouring out buckets of tears. Meanwhile, his brother, Larry, is running away from home because he is fed up with doing chores and doing everything for his sick mother. As he leapt out of the windowsill he left Jennings with one quick word of advice, “But, Larry you’re my only friend don’t go.” I begged “Please don’t go.” Then Larry quickly replies, “I told you,” he said, “It ain’t no good liken people.”(171) Even though this piece as advice was inaccurate, I think that Jennings took it as reverse physiology, he knew his brother wasn’t going to help him in the department for “doing the right thing” since, his brother was the one who was running away!

When somebody leaves you, you feel like a huge hole in your chest is ripping out your heart. You focus on never seeing that person again. After sobbing and recovering from the pain, people sometimes think about all the good times or things about their loss. Suddenly, the hole seems to become smaller, and smaller until you start to smile a little. It took Jennings 8 years to notice that the hole disappears eventually, and that love is worth the pain. All people notice this at different times. Some people never notice this at all, they live their life as a bitter, and mean, and angry person. May be, if they took the time to notice that having people to love is a positive thing in the end, the they wouldn’t be sitting alone on benches.

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This article has 1 comment.

Tracyyyy123 said...
on Sep. 7 2015 at 1:10 pm
Fuck everyone!!!

on Nov. 19 2014 at 4:56 pm
This book is so said it makes me want to take every orpan home with me I cant belive some would abuse goods work like this if their a nun  and suppose to onoir god then the shouldnt be doing this. If they dont like kids then they shoudnt have this job! Thats my opion.

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