Sociological Character Analysis: Randy From a sociological perspectives as to why Randy gets in trouble so often this could be related to his race, his lack of real family and growing up in the system, his lack of education, and his lack of money. In the Wire you see the teachers and principal use this against him by threatening to call his foster mom unless he gives them the information they want, such as, who has been graffitiing school property.
His lack of money is what reluctantly drives him to do things he might not want to, such as, delivering a message to Lex which led Lex into a trap though Randy did not know that it was a trap till after the deed was done and he was given more money for his part. This is an example of sanction, a reward for following the norms, though alternatively a different form of sanction would be a punishment for breaking the norm.
He also reluctantly served as a lookout at school for another student who gave him $5; this later causes him to get into trouble when the girl that went into the bathroom with the other boy states she was raped. When he gets in trouble for his involvement and the assistant principal is about to call his foster mother he’s willing to tell her anything he knows in the hope that she won’t call his foster mother. This leads to him telling her he knows about a murder. This deviance from the street norms can lead to major consequences for Randy.
Within Randy’s life you see a lot of Karl Marx’s conflict paradigm. Especially because of his street relations such as his friends and the drug dealers and his other relations on the other hand such as, his foster mother, his teachers, and the police. From growing up in the system and being on the streets he has adopted the street norms and learned how to make quick and easy money and to do what’s necessary to protect himself, usually on the streets this means staying out of others business, never snitching, and seeking revenge from those who have wronged you.
You see these aspects in Randy’s life from beginning of the season, when his friend Dukie is harassed by the other rival children he comes up with the plan to seek revenge on the other neighborhood kids by filling water balloons up with urine. Later he plans to catch homing pigeons to sell to Marlo for his pigeon coop and he also has a business of selling products to the kids at school and the drug dealers on the corners, while illegal this is a quick and easy way for him to make money. Other than moving drugs this is the only thing he knows.
You see his knowledge of the streets, based on his behavior after realizing what happened to Lex, he never tells anyone due to his fear of retribution from Chris. This behavior is in opposition to what he has been taught by his foster mother and what is expected of him from the teachers and police. Which is why when his foster mom asked him why he smelled like urine after his fight with the rival children he said it was because he was playing with Dukie rather than admit what he did and get in trouble.
He knew his foster mother wouldn’t understand the reason for why he had to seek revenge and he knew that she would approve of him being friends with a struggling kid over him getting into fights with others due to her morals and what she expects of him. When he gets caught for selling product at school, Randy was willing to go against the street code of never snitching in favor of his foster mom not being told about his misdemeanor so that he wouldn’t get in trouble.
He was willing to tell the assistant principal about Lex’s murder in the hope that it would keep him out of trouble. This deviance could also be an example of rational choice; he was willing to sacrifice someone else in order to protect himself. This calculation of self-interest can be seen as a rational choice due to the expectation that if he does this or tells the principal what he knows in return it could help him by lessening his punishment. If word gets out of what Randy has done he will have a difficult time living with the stigma of being a snitch.
The outcome of his telling at the least will result in alienation from his peers and social group or at the more extreme end could be deadly for him. Randy’s identity would follow along with the subculture he is a part of, a culture in which the beliefs and values are at odds with those of the larger culture, this subculture might even be considered a counterculture in some aspects as how the views of the street are on many occasions in complete opposition to those of the dominant culture. However, Randy’s foster mother’s values and beliefs would line up more with those of the dominant culture.
While his foster mother is trying to bring him up in a “decent family,” Randy’s prior upbringing and his association with the other street kids make him more likely to adopt the “street” culture and norms. The culture Randy’s foster mom is trying to instill in him is one where he knows right from wrong, follows rules and regulations, listens to authority figures, obtains an education and gets a real job making clean, honest money. This can be observed by Randy’s fear of her finding out about his misdoings, and his following of his curfew and desire to please his foster mother.
On the other hand, you observe the culture that Randy has grown up in and the one he is most often surrounded by. The street culture his friends and the other drug dealers live by. In this culture the norm is to earn your respect through force and brutality, money is made in the easiest fashion, most likely illegally through the selling of drugs, there are no set rules or regulations, everyone minds their own business or else they end up severely injured or dead. Education is seen as a waste of time, you could be making money moving drugs rather than wasting time in a classroom.
Authority figures are often mocked within the group and most often when the police come around the neighborhood the kids run. For the kids on the street such as Randy the people with the power have the authority. They may not abide by the laws set by the police but they abide by the code of the streets, they fear the people who have proven to be dangerous and earned their respect through force such as Marlo and his gang. These are the people who have the power in the eyes of the street families; these are the people that hold the highest status within their societies.
Marlo is the head of the drug organization and Chris and Snoop are his second in command. They are widely feared and respected. Since the majority of Randy’s primary group, his friends, fall under the street culture that is what he has adopted. For the vast part, even his secondary group falls under the street culture- the drug dealers, Marlo’s gang, and the kids at school. The only decent influence in his primary group is his foster mother. Due to the overtly street nature of his primary group and the people that are most likely to influence what he becomes Randy has taken on many of the street values and beliefs.
From seeking revenge for his friend, making quick and easy money, undermining authority figures, and running from the police, you see the street culture in Randy’s actions throughout the show and you also see who he follows and who influences those behaviors the most. Although you certainly see a minor influence from his foster mother in his aspirations to become a business owner and his work ethic, following though on all his jobs even if he’s paid up front, it is not enough to overcome the greater influence of the streets.