Professor Donald B. Hawkins
December 6, 2010
What is Poverty?
Jo Goodwin Parker’s essay, “What is Poverty?” is about Parker who has personally experienced rural poverty. She explains her story from childhood to adulthood. Parker’s struggles are overwhelming; look at any sentence, the evidence of her daily struggle is there. From her underwear to living arrangements, and everything in between, Parker resides in poverty. In her essay, she says to listen to the story of what poverty is. Then she talks about the different aspects of poverty. Parker talks about the lack of health conditions she and her three children suffer from. She decides to be a mother even though she has no ability to provide …show more content…
She is always scared that something bad will happen. The use of imagery she uses in her essay shows the dehumanizing effects of poverty.
The technique Parker uses in her essay is repetition. She constantly restates what is poverty. “Poverty is getting up every morning from a dirt- and illness-stained mattress.” “Poverty is living in a smell that never leaves” (167). Parker uses repetition to hammer an idea, image, or relationship so the reader can pay attention. In this case, she wants the reader to pay attention to the odor and the dirtiness of her living. “Poverty is staying up all night on cold nights to watch the fire, knowing one spark on the newspaper covering the walls means your sleeping children die in flames.” “Poverty is hoping it never rains because diapers won’t dry when it rains and soon you are using newspapers” (168). Here, Parker is explaining how she is scared that her children will be hurt if she does not keep one eye open and the inconvenience of rain that troubles her children. All of these phrases create a different image of poverty and each one is successful in evoking sympathy from the reader. Her technique is to force the reader to imagine poverty in a new way. Parker makes us realize how bleak poverty is and she shows us that there is no hope for the poor without understanding.
Parker gives outsiders a glimpse into what she goes through on a daily basis. Being a