In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What does Abbott say about paranoia in this chapter?

Abbott says among a crowd of prisoners he often feels paranoid, as if someone will attack him any minute. He says this paranoia is the result of him having spent all of his life in institutions, but was never the reason he committed crimes in the first place.

2. What does Abbott say about his early life?

Abbott was born on a military base in Michigan in 1941. Thereafter he was in and out of foster homes and then at the age of nine put into a juvenile delinquent center. He never completed the ninth grade. At the age of eighteen he was put into prison for faking a check.

3. What crimes does Abbott say he committed?

Abbott's first real crime was cashing a check against insufficient funding. For this he received five years. When he escaped in 1971, he committed his only serious crime in free society, robbing a bank. Later he stabbed an inmate to death.

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