Have you ever had to swallow your pride and ask for help? Can you feed three kids or provide hot water for bathing? Do you know what living in poverty is like? Most of us will never experience first-hand what it is like. In “What Is Poverty?” Jo Goodwin Parker’s essay reveals the hardships she faces as a woman, wife and mother struggling in poverty.
In this essay “What is Poverty?” Jo Goodwin Parker describes in very expository language to illustrate herself to the reader: “Here I am, dirty, smelly, with no ‘proper’ underwear on and the stench of my rotting teeth near you”. Parker wants to be understood while telling you about her life of poverty as a single mother. Parker establishes she wants the reader to listen with not commiseration, but to listen with an open non-judgmental mind. The author admits she and her children have sicknesses and have no money to pay for medicine, proper food, hot water, a nursery school which would take her whole paycheck every week, then as a result she quit her job.
Parker tells us who she was prior poverty from how she goes from dropping out of junior high to being married young to living in a house with her husband and being caught short to ending her marriage after her third child because she had no money to pay for contraceptives and couldn’t bear bringing more children into a life of poverty.
Parker states she has to ask for help. She is offered only enough money from unemployment to pay rent and buy cheap food, but not enough cover luxuries like hot water, soap, or medicine which the family needs to stay clean and healthy, or bus fair to go to the clinic since parker lives across town and cannot afford to travel.
Parker reveals the stress of being poor takes its toll on your pride. Parker states “poverty is like looking into a black future.” Parker insinuates she sees no future for her sons other than being in jail and her daughter to live a life like hers. Moreover even in her darkest moment she still dreams of a better future. Parker wishes to one day to buy luxuries for her family, and for one day asking for help doesn’t take away her pride.
Reading Jo Goodwin Parker’s essay “What Is Poverty?” is an eye opening piece of literary work that really illustrates and exposes the life of poverty. Parker does an excellent job at pulling the reader into her world by the use of her expository language and honesty. Makes me wonder of the struggles many Americans, and people all over the world, face on a