What Is Poverty ?

Jo Goodwin Parker

What Is Poverty ?

o Goodwin Parker in her realistic essay “What is Poverty” gives a real and graphic account of what being poor actually means on a daily basis. Parker stresses that poverty is more ugly, cruel and devastating than it is shown in newspapers.

She defines poverty as a lack – that is living without hope, better foods, medicinal care, proper sanitation, and proper education. It is like an acid that destroys pride, honor, health, and future. Parker’s main purpose is to show how shameful, humiliating and disgusting it is to be poor. She wants to draw the readers’ attention to the pathetic state of poor people.

Poor people have to live a restless life looking at the dark future of their children. Poverty breaks relationships. Parker had three children. She divorced her husband because he had lost his job and they couldn’t buy contraceptives to prevent unwanted birth. She had a job. Once she left the children under the care of their grandmother. She found her children under the pitiable condition when she returned home. Her youngest son was covered with fly specks and his diaper had not been changed since morning. Her other child was playing with broken glasses and the oldest one was playing alone at the edge of a lake. She did not have enough income to admit them at a nursery school. She made 20 dollars a week and a nursery school cost 20 dollars a week for three children. Therefore she quitted her job.

Important Questions:

  • How does Parker create a real and graphic account of what being poor actually means on a daily basis?
  • Do you have anything more to add to her definition of poverty?
  • Is “What is Poverty” a realistic essay? Discuss with reasons for your answer.
  • Why did Parker quit her job?
  • What is Parker’s purpose in defining poverty as she does?

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