An Overview of the Classic Autobiography in the Novel Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas

Categories: Literature

This book Down These Mean Streets is a classic confessional autobiography. This book was first published in 1967. It was written by Piri Thomas, he was a man of African descent living in Spanish Harlem. It relates how he was lost even within his own family and his identity through drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery, nearly becoming yet another statistic by the age of twenty two.

In this book it tells all about the persons life. It tells how he has suffered through his life time, and what he has been through.

He has been through alot, he has gone from his hometown in Harlem to Suburbia, Down South, Prison and the New York Town.

It all started out being a child and he had done a few things that made his father hit him. He has been saying that Poppa wont hit me again . He lived in a town called Harlem.

He was down by Park Avenue and Harlem Park Avenue, it was a scary place.

Get quality help now
Doctor Jennifer
Verified writer

Proficient in: Literature

5 (893)

“ Thank you so much for accepting my assignment the night before it was due. I look forward to working with you moving forward ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Especially the dirty stone trestle of the New York Central that was right down the middle of the avenue making long, sloomy tunnels at each street corner. He feared death. The reason he feared death was when he once had a bully that lived by the gutter who was more dangerous than they knew him to be. His name was Dopey, he was a kid that always was drooling at his mouth. One day someone had told him to drink dirty street water and that set him off to the City Hospital.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

Then the next time they saw Dopey was when he was changed, he did not look droopy at all, he looked like an ordinary person except dead.

They traveled alot they were at on 114th street where all Puerto Ricans lived, then to 104th street between Lex and Park Avenue. He lived in apartment 109. He went to a school named Patrick Henry. Strange eyes followed him going to that school, it was a man known as Waneko. This man Waneko was more like a gangster, he had border lines on blocks which separated other people from there block. They had a place called 10 P.M.. Over there they all gathered and they all fought with its back to its own block.

In 1944 they moved to Long Island. Poppa was making good money at the airplane factory. He really hated Long Island and was making the scene in Harlem most often for parties. This Long Island was a foreign country, it looked so pretty and clean.

The problems that were interrupting Piri’s life was that his mom compares her childhood to the childhood of her children. When Piri is playing it smooth he took off to the streets with the rest of the kids. Piri again doesn’t see what relationship he has with his father until some Italinans give him a beaten. His father takes him to the hospital, and shows him alot of love. It does not compare to the neglect his father as shown to this point. Piri finally makes friends with an Italian in his new neighbor hood Long Island. He and Rocky go stealing. He does not like the arguing that goes on between his mom and dad, so Piri leaves the house because he cannot stand them arguing. Piri says its better to be outside stealing then inside listening to the argument. Piri goes with what he has seen of street life, for what it is. But he does not realize that he is using one of the street methods, to escape another. He has a mixing of being a Bad As* from he streets and Piri the same time. He brings the street indoors and uses it to get out of trouble in school. At first this chapter 8 showed Piri making an improvement. He starts shining shoes fro cash and starts a lemon-aid stand. But he still makes a mistake, again. He allows his street nature to influence the something really good his sensitive side. He gets caught stealing with his gang, and it does not stop him from doing it again. He is starting to not give a crap about what he is doing. It is strange to be in new environments like Piri is. Piri does not fit in at all the way with the Italians. He made one good friend but, the girls don’t like him so he is hurting. He does not like the fact he is in Long Island he belongs in Harlem. He decides to take his mother away from his father and his fathers affairs with other women. He cannot hold together with the family, so he decides to cut out go back to the streets of Harlem. He says to him self I cannot understand his calling to these mean streetz.

He can’t even get a job because of his dark skin. He is loosing hope to improve his life as he trys and trys. He needs to leave the streets alone. But he is just going to drop his pride and his streets and return home. I think that his point that he is trying to make is that to show his family and every one else that he can do it. He wants to be independent but he is destroying himself to make this point. When he went to visit his family he told them everything was cool. He told them he got a job and place of his own. Piri just got to deal with it he thinks to himself. This guy got too many complexes. He doesn’t realize that he doesn’t have to defend everything. Piri’s blaming his problems on everyone but, himself. He is blaming the white men for our every burden that isn’t gona do them any good. He is turning bitter and angry at the world. He does not want to be black Puerto Rican, He wants to be a man. He doesn’t know how to be one yet, because he hasn’t accepted responsibility, so he has to find a way to escape it all with drugs and crime and live it all of on street life. Again he is fighting his feelings and getting the wrong emotion take over his anger. He finally decides to take initiative and find out more about what he can do. He goes down south to find it, just as a hard time. He is considered black, as much as being considered Puerto Rican. I hope that his experience helps blacks and Puerto Rican or even white realize that they can catch hell either way. Piri found someone more confused than himself. A writer who is more hung up on black and white issues than he is. It is comforting when you find someone worse than himself. He tends to feel sorry for them and better about yourself at the same time. Piri takes a big loss. He and his friends get separated and it is a horrible feeling to be in a new place by yourself. It makes you nervous, it make you feel as if some one is behind you, you keep looking behind your shoulder. It wasn’t so sweet that his mother is dead, and he finds some pictures of his fathers mistress. He finally has it out with his father. He hated the picture of the green-eyed white womaen. He is losing more of the people he needs and cares about. Piri thinks he can hold it down. He is gone full time. He has one of those cats in the streets you avoid and get angry at. He is disgusted with all, at the same time. He hates white people but, he goes off and pulls robberies with these guys that he hardly knows, who are white.

Piri and his other Puerto Rican friend go into crime. The white guys stay in the car, safely. Every one will get an equal share of the loot even though the whites are in the car and 2 men went to go do the robbery itself. The man lives for trouble. Messing with another girl when Trina went to Puerto Rico was a bad move. Piri’s life sounds like a soap opera. He just cant understand what makes a person want to do so much wrong to himself. He loves the trouble. He still cant became a man no matter how much he survives. He needs to understand his responsibility to himself as a person before he can take responsibility for a child. So now Piri has got more troubles than he bargained for. He takes care of himself and Trina.

He also gives cash to the babies mother. Louie wants to rob again and they do it. Now they have got into more trouble. Piri gets shot in this time. He also shot a cop this time. Until someone hits him over his head he will not learn he will remain stupid as he is now. He isn’t gona learn any thing this way. As he wakes up, off the stuff to keep him asleep in the hospital and he thinks he’s coming out of being high. He did not want to take responsibility for himself so now the law is going to make him. Piri is sentenced to fifteen years in Sing Sing State Prison for shooting a cop. At this point he has to be ready for the worst. I think this man is amazing. He is cracking jokes on his sentence. His kid will do all the same junk Piri does or has been doing for the past fifteen years if he does not change. He still does not see the importance of all his trials in life. He has been tested so many times and failed every time. I can believe that he finally accepts some responsibility for what he has done. He switched to Comstock State Prison. He sees a whole bunch of guys just like him, all the crap he has done to be so different and independent. These cats have already done and messed up just as good or better than him. Piri has seen some light to his future so far. Piri had no problems with rejecting the homosexuals he met in prison. He was too strong for them. But a young kid he know came in and he was being harassed by the homosexuals. Piri found some type of heart to help the kid. The kid got his respect back when he did this and Piri felt good, because his words worked to support someone else for a change. For the first time he wasn’t being selfish. After being there for four years, his parole was rejected. He will have to do another two years After the first year, a riot went down. He kept himself calm. But he was scared. Prir has found some religion also.

He has discovered many religions and created a conscience for himself. He says I am glad to see the experiences he has had in jail, aren’t totally destructive . He understands himself, He knows what he wants. Now he has values that will help him to achieve this. He has earned his manhood, not because he has made it through jail, but because he has made it through his troubles. He has a good head on his shoulders, along with the ability to do something with it. He goes home and works for a Rabbi.

He now knows how to deal with both. He still smokes and drinks, but at a moderate level. He didn’t do anything to avoid pain anymore. Within a year he got a raise. He’s finally moving along with life. He has been to hell and back. Now he is married and has a daughter and a son. He has done many things for people, and the most important for himself.


Cite this page

An Overview of the Classic Autobiography in the Novel Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas. (2022, Apr 08). Retrieved from

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment