Reading Summary Two:The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless Of New York


Margaret Morton’s book the Tunnel is an unconventional book that gives the everyday person firsthand accounts of the life of a homeless person living, not only underground but in NYC. She utilizes photography and the homeless individuals themselves to tell the story. She accounts for the dark side of those living down there with the stories of drug use, violence, arson and more. But hones in on the everyday normal lives of the people from them building homes, eating, and looking out for each other through the pictures that she takes. Summarizing Morton’s book must be looked upon differently than a normal book because it is an adult picture book. The best way is directly analyzing the pictures themselves.

ghjgygMorton began each section or the book with a picture of the person interviewed somewhere in the tunnel. This personalized the book and gave a face to the story helping the reader fully grasp the situation. This is a picture of the first character introduced who seems to be the driving force that keep everyone is the community together. His name is Bernard. This picture alone helps to tell a story that words can’t. From Bernard’s posture you can assume that he is cool and likable but also young and strong. The back ground of a wall of graffiti show that he stays out in the NYC elements. All things that can be verified by the reading. The opening pictures of all the others in the book can be used to do the same thing.


Morton shows that though these individuals are homeless and live underground. Their underground homes are a safe haven for them, and they live like other people above ground. When initially looking at this picture you wouldjohn think that this man is sitting at his table or on his couch in the dark, drinking a beer and relaxing. But in reality he is sitting underground in a make shift home. This shows how the pictures juxtapose the lives of the homeless and those who have homes showing that they obtain similar possessions and do similar activities.



The next photo doesn’t come directly from this book, but comes from another one of Morton’s pieces and illustrates exactly want many of the pictures in book The Tunnel exemplify.Throughout the book and Morton’s gguihuaccounts with homeless many of them overwhelmingly feel as though the makeshift homeless that they have built are theirs with their possessions inside. This can be shown through those that leave the tunnel to later return to the same home and feel the need and obligation to fix back their home; as someone above ground would do. Along with those who set fire to other homes to get back at someone, a person would not do that if they didn’t think that that home was of value or of meaning to their enemy. The photo saying BK’s place show that BK feels an overwhelming sense of not only ownership but pride to the place he lives, as a king or queen would to a palace.

Morton’s accounts with the homeless underground in New York City shed light not only on the homeless epidemic but also one the way that we view the homeless. She did a wonderful job of portraying their lives not only through firsthand accounts but also through the pictures taken of the homeless and their dwellings.



MORTON, MARGARET. The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless Of New York City. n.p.: New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995., 1995.














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