What is Proverty? Summary

This heart touching essay, “What is Poverty?” was written by an anonymous (unknown about her in detail) writer, Jo Goodwin Parker. This essay is about her who has personally experienced rural poverty. She explains her story from childhood to adulthood. Her struggles are overwhelming. She has explained the meaning of poverty here. She has directly addressed to the readers about living in poverty and asked to feel about it.

In the first line of each paragraph, she has given the definition of poverty based on her experience. Then she justifies the definition with supporting ideas of poverty. She says to the readers to listen about what poverty is. She says that poverty is dirty, smelly, and without “proper” underwear on and the stench of her rotting teeth.

She says that poverty is getting up every morning from dirt and living in a smell of urine, sour milk, spoiling food, and of the outdoor toilet. She says that poverty is being tired that because she has not got any medicines although she is suffering from chronic anemia. The poor are always polite and they only listen as there is no one to listen to them. She got a pitiable condition of her children when she came from her job that her baby’s flesh came with the diaper which had been used for a long time. Her another child was playing with a sharp broken glass.

She says that poverty is staying up all night to prevent cold by watching the fire knowing one spark on the  newspaper covering the walls. In summer, she has to watch insects eating her baby’s tears when he cries. She adds that poverty is asking for help. She has to visit many offices for help but she does not get any help easily. She has to repeat her poverty time and again in each organization. She mentions that poverty is remembering the sad and bad days of her past that she spent her days in lacking. She has even divorced with her husband just for not having money to buy contraceptives.

She mentions that poverty is looking into a black future because the children will be going through the similar condition as they do not have strong present to have better future. Because of her past, she has these pitiable and bitter days of poverty in the present. According to her, poverty is an acid that drips on pride until all pride is worn away which dips the honour at the bottom of the sea of poverty.

So she says that even the poor can dream about all the prosperity so that they will not scorch in poverty. She stresses that the poor are also not from another place or another time. She directly asks the readers or rich to listen to the poor and feel the bitter experience by being silent.

This essay shows a very bitter experience of the poor as Parker is one of the representatives to share freely and frankly that they have also wish, need, and dream to enjoy in life; for which, the government should manage and take care of such people. Moreover, the rich should also listen to them and feel their bitter experience because they are also the creatures of the same place.

What is Proverty? Questions And Answer: Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. What is poverty according to Parker ? 

Ans: According to Parker, poverty is getting up early in the morning from a dirt, being tired, staying up all night, asking for help, remembering the lacking of the past, looking into a black future, and an acid that drips on pride.

b.How is poverty difficult for Parker’s children? List some specific examples. 

Ans: Parker has been suffering from poverty so as her three children are also not out of it. They are also the victims of it. Poverty is very difficult for Parker’s children. Some specific examples are:

i.They do not get adequate food, education, clothing, and medical care.
ii.They have to spend their days in dirt. The sanitation is very poor which may cause fatal diseases.
iii. They do not get new diaper to change and the old dried diaper caused coming bits of their flesh with it. They do not have playing things; instead, they play with broken glasses and at the edge of the lake.

c.How does Parker try to obtain help, and what problems does she encounter?

Ans: Parker tries to obtain help by visiting the offices and asking for help but no one is ready to help her; instead, she has to wait for a long time and repeat her story of poverty in each office.

d. Why are people’s opinions and prejudices her greatest obstacles?

Ans: People’s opinions and prejudices are her greatest obstacles because many people do not know the adverse effects and pains of poverty. They do not give any priority and importance to the people who have been suffering from poverty. They are indifferent to the poor. So, they do not be ready to support the poor; because of which, Parker has also not got any support from them.

e.How does Parker defend her inability to get help? How does she discount the usual solutions society has for poverty (e.g., welfare, education, and health clinics)?

Ans: Parker has very sincerely and frankly expressed about her experiences of poverty that she has been going through to defend her inability to get help. She discounts the usual solutions society has for poverty by sharing her own experiences of welfare, education, and health clinics. She has to visit the offices to extend her hand for a support; for which, many organizations have been working in the field of welfare. She has not got any support; instead, she has to repeat her story time and again. There is a school lunch programme in the name of education but they seem to be purposeless. She has not got the facilities of health clinics as she is very far away from them. As a result, she is out of reach of welfare, education, and health clinics.

Reference to the context

a. Explain the following: 

Poverty is looking into a black future. 

Ans: Parker has mentioned about her experiences of poverty which she has gone through. She has clearly mentioned that poverty is looking into a black future. She says that she has been extremely suffering from the adverse effects of poverty. And, her poverty does not remain only in the present but it will also equally affect her in the future because she does not have any possibility and solutions to overcome it. Moreover, her children will also have to go through the same condition of poverty. So, their future is black and difficult without any hope.

b.What does Parker mean by “The poor are always silent”? 

Ans: Parker says “The poor are always silent.” She means to say that the poor do not have any social status. There is the hegemony of the rich in the society. They are in the plan and policy level and they make everything for their sake. The poor are helpless and taken as the symbol of insult and shame of the society. No rich will listen to the poor. Instead, the poor have to listen to others and shut their mouths anytime.

c.What writing strategy does the author use at the beginning of most of the paragraphs? Do you notice a recurring pattern ? What is it? 

Ans: The author uses the repetition strategy at the beginning of most of the paragraphs in which she has used the topic sentences (punching line of poverty) in the first line and presented the supporting details to justify the topic sentences.

d.How does Parker develop each paragraph? What details make each paragraph memorable?
Ans: Parker develops each paragraph with a repetition strategy in which she has mentioned the topic sentences and then supporting details to justify her arguments. She has repeated the statement with- ‘Poverty is…’ Her personal experiences of poverty in each paragraph make memorable that she has expressed very frankly to make the readers understand about poverty and its adverse affects along with the need of help for them.

e.In the final paragraph, how does the author use questions to involve the reader in the issue of poverty? 

Ans: In the final paragraph, the author uses question to involve the reader in the issue of poverty informally and directly so that they will feel comfortable to involve in the conversation with the author. She wants the reader to look at the poor and try to understand the adverse effects they have gone through. And also, the poor need help and they should support them to overcome it. She asks to keep them in her poor condition and be silent to realize how difficult it is to spend the days through poverty.

Reference beyond the text

a.Define a social problem (homelessness, unemployment, racism) imitating Parker’s style. 

Ans: Homelessness is a state of staying under the sky openly without having a house or any shelter. Have you ever had to stay under the sky? Staying there is a matter of health, shame and prestige in the society. The rich are indifferent to them. Think about asking to get a shelter in your relative, if this is the only way you can imagine asking for help. I will tell you how it feels. You find out your relative’s house and experience how they behave you.

Unemployment is a harsh time and reason to be poor. It fades out your prestige and social status. It ruins your life as you feel embarrassed and ashamed as you are treated by the people in the society. Racism is a black patch of the society. It makes you feel inferior and you cannot do anything in the society if your head is not held high. You will be treated very badly in the society just because of your colour of the skin. You will be back in every step of your life and deprived from all the facilities.

I have come out of my despair to tell you this. Remember, I did not come from another planet or another time. Others like me are around you. Look at us with an angry heart, anger that will help you help me. Anger that will let you tell of me. The poor are always backward. Can you remain backward too?

b. Using adjectives to highlight the futility of the situation, write a short definition essay on Growing up in Poverty. 


Growing up in Poverty

Poverty is considered as a worse situation in which people do not have the fulfillment of basic needs. Growing up in poverty is growing up with dirt as the daily activities begin from the dirty bed sheet and ends up there in the late evening. Growing up in it is being tired as the poor have to work from early in the morning to late evening just for solving the problem of hand-to-mouth. It is staying up all night on cold nights to watch the fire. It is asking for help. Even the children have to beg in the streets for survival. It is remembering the past days. It is looking into a black future because poverty pushes you backward and you cannot overcome it. Poverty is keeping a mortgage in which you have to keep your prestige and pride.