This project analyzes three examples of testimonial literature written by favela residents in Brazil to demonstrate the extent to which these accounts contest or confirm the popular news media's violent representation of favelas and their inhabitants. The literary works Quatrocentos contra um: Uma história do Comando Vermelho (1991) by William da Silva Lima and Capão pecado (2000) by Ferréz and the documentary Notícias de uma guerra particular (1999) present an insider's perspective of the violence that takes place in the favela and thus can reveal the factors that contribute to it. Through these explanations, readers and viewers become aware of the generally unheard side of the story of the repressed and ignored poor class. Lima's voice in Quatrocentos contra um serves to explain the way that crime was organized as a means of survival to combat the repression and abuse of the government, and in Capão pecado Ferréz demonstrates the difficulty that favela residents who are not involved in drug trafficking have in avoiding the violence that surrounds them because they do not have equal opportunity for education and employment. He suggests a non-violent rebellion through artistic means to build a positive image of favela inhabitants, both inside and outside of the poor community. The documentary Notícias de uma guerra particular directed by João Moreira Salles and Kátia Lund presents information that places much of the blame for violence on the lack of social structure that would integrate the poor, and more importantly allows for honest, hardworking favela residents to share their experience of trying to make a living and avoid illegal activity while suffering from the stereotype that all who live in poor communities are involved in violent activity. Together these works constitute an attempt for the violence of the favelas to be explained through the voice of favela residents themselves.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



Date Submitted


Document Type





favela, testimonial literature, violence, military, drug trafficking, William da Silva Lima, Ferréz, Notícias de uma guerra particular