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Orange is the New Black

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by

Emily Gripp

on 29 August 2014

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Transcript of Orange is the New Black

Danbury Correctional Institute is located in Danbury Connecticut. Piper Kerman serves a thirteen month prison sentence at this institution for money laundering and drug trafficking.
Orange is the New Black takes place between 1993 and 2005, although the majority of the story takes place in 2004. The beginning of the story takes place in Northhampton in New England. The setting then changes to New York City and then Danbury Correctional Institute in Connecticut. Most of the book takes place at Danbury Correctional Institute.

Setting
Plot Summary
After Piper Kerman graduates from college in 1993, her girlfriend introduces her to the glamorous aspects of the illegal drug trade. Piper assists in money laundering, but shortly after she is sucked into the trade she leaves. Five years later, Piper is indicted in the Federal Court of Chicago on counts of money laundering. After pleading guilty, she must wait until 2004 to begin her prison sentence in Danbury Correctional Facility. Orange is the New Black tells the story of Piper Kerman's many adventures in an all women's prison and her interactions with the other inmates in the facility.
Piper Kerman
Piper Kerman was born in Boston on September 28th, 1969. After graduating from Smith College, in 1993 she laundered money for her girlfriend who worked as a heroin dealer. Piper's money laundering past caught up with her in 1998, and in 2004 she must serve a 13 month prison sentence. Piper is a writer and journalist, and she writes many letters in prison. She based her memoir off of what she had written in her letters to her friends and family.
Major Characters
-Piper Kerman: The main character who, after her criminal past catches up with her, serves a thirteen month sentence at Danbury Correctional Facility
-Larry Smith: Piper's husband who visits Piper in prison on a biweekly basis and stays with her even when she is imprisoned
-Nora Jansen: Piper's girlfriend after graduating college who introduced Piper into the illegal drug trade
-Natalie: Piper's roommate who helps Piper navigate the challenges that prison poses
-Yoga Janet: Piper's prison yoga teacher who assists piper in coping with her situation

The narrative voice in Orange is the New Black is contemplative and forthright. Kerman speaks frankly about the issues of the American prison system and the reasons why prisoners have a difficult time succeeding in the world after being released.
A memoir by Piper Kerman
Orange is the New Black
Project by Emily Gripp
Author's Purpose
Piper Kerman wrote Orange is the New Black to address many of the issues of the American prison system and to reduce the stigma attached to those who have served terms in prison. Kerman brings up many important points about the United States prison system that are often ignored such as the waste of money and space that results from the incarceration of non-violent, low-level offenders and the lack of rehabilitative services that the prison provides. This lack results in freed prisoners returning to prison because they are not adequately equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to return to society and become a functioning member. Kerman wanted to bring attention to such serious problems that we often ignore.
Writing Style
In her memoir, Kerman juxtaposes the upper-middle class life that she lives at home to the life she leads after adapting to the environment that she inhibits at Danbury. Her word choice makes this quite apparent. She uses both prison slang and vocabulary suitable for use in formal speaking to show the immense differences in culture that prison life brings. Piper also chose to write the book like a series of sequential articles rather than a book with a well developed plot. I believe this was meant to show the capriciousness of prison life and the inconsistency of everyday routine. Kerman uses a lot of imagery in her book to convey the realities of prison life to the reader, but she does not use large amounts of figurative language, perhaps to symbolize the barren life that prison has to offer.
My Opinion
I would recommend this book to readers of all ages that are interested in life in prison and the flaws of our government. I believe that this book succeeded in making me reconsider my views on prisoners and the prison system, and I found Kerman's view on the American justice system particularly interesting. The vocabulary choices and writing style was not inordinately difficult, however the book was still very well written and the subject matter piqued my curiosity.
Works Cited
Ball, Aimee L. "Prison Life, Real and Onscreen." New York Times 2 Aug. 2013: 1. Print.

Kerman, Piper. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Woman's Prison. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2010. Print.
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