Poverty deeply affects those involved. Both Jo Goodwin Parker (“What is Poverty?”) and Jonathan Swift (“A Modest Proposal Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public”) employ strategies that call attention to the horrors of poverty, although they speak of two different time periods and locations. After reading both authors’ views
on the subject of poverty and what can be done, if anything, to help the matter, it is clear which author more effectively delivers a plea to the audience for the abolishment of poverty. Jo Goodwin Parker delivers a much more effective plea to the audience for the abolishment of poverty and a much more realistic one, too.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In “What is Poverty?” Jo Goodwin Parker uses creative, “outside-the-box” thinking when discussing the topic of abolishing poverty. She does not offer a planned, statistical solution, but instead, has an arguably better and definitely more realistic idea. Her belief is that people just need to listen to those in need, rather than feel bad for the people suffering in poverty. Parker just wants her audience to listen and try to understand. She does not want anybody’s pity for her situation, or anybody else who lives in poverty. “I cannot use your pity. Listen with understanding. Put yourself in my dirty, worn out, ill-fitting shoes, and hear me” (1). Parker is asking her audience to listen. She does not want anybody to feel bad for her or anybody else in a situation like hers. Her position on the matter is simple. The less poverty is talked about, the less poverty there will be. Although not statistically true, she is right indeed. This viewpoint offers a unique perspective on poverty, as it offers a realistic way to mentally abolish it as whole.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">On the other hand, Jonathan Swift’s plan for abolishment is completely unrealistic. Swift believes that a certain percentage of children should be reserved for breed. “I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children, already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one fourth part to be males, which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle, or swine; and my reason is that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females” (419). Is this guy serious? Breed children? In order for a plea to be successful in abolishing poverty, it must first be realistic, and Jo Goodwin Parker’s plea is.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Jo Goodwin Parker is very realistic and understands that poverty will not ever be completely abolished, let alone a good portion of it. She takes this into consideration and because of this, does not waste any time in getting to her point. People in poverty need to vent, need to be listened to, and when done, need the listener to not feel any sort of pity for them. “Others like me are all around you. Look at us with an angry heart, anger that will help. Anger that will let you tell of me. The poor are always silent. Can you be silent, too?” (3). Parker is so effective in her plea because her perspective on the topic is so different then what one would expect. Her plan is not based off statistics, but is in mental and moral, and arguably genius. Poverty needs to not be discussed. It needs to be silenced and that is what Parker is trying to tell the world. On the contrary, Jonathan Swift not only thinks poverty should be discussed more, but he thinks his unrealistic plan of stopping is some sort of genius, amazing idea that no one ever thought of.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Swift’s ideas are not only exaggerated, but they are morally disturbing. “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled, and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout” (418). This guy cannot be serious. His ideas are laughable. Swift is proposing that young children should be breaded, and furthermore, determines the appropriate age to “cook a child.” That proposition is not only remarkable, but flat out ignorant. Rather than exaggerate and come up with a completely irrational solution, Jo Goodwin Parker offers a totally realistic and mentally ideal solution to abolish poverty. People need to stop talking about it.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Jo Goodwin Parker delivers a much more effective plea to the audience for the abolishment of poverty and a much more realistic one, too. Not only is she direct in describing his solution to abolish poverty, but she is also very simple, too. Silence is what is needed to abolish poverty and she is right. The poor do not want to talk about their situation, and neither should we. Jonathan Swift does not relate any realistic idea to abolish poverty, while Parker does. Parker not only more effectively delivers her plea on destroying poverty in full, but she keeps it real and simple in her proposition, as well.</p>
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 for them. She talks about the government only giving her a small amount of money per month. That is why she cannot afford nutritional foods and soap to clean her kids. She thinks that the outside world will not help and even criticize her for not doing something. After reading Jo Goodwin Parker’s essay, I did not feel pity but instead I felt respect. She was in an unfortunate situation that forced her into a life not easy to live or deal with.
But, with three children to care for, plus herself, she continued on with her life no matter what obstacles kept jumping in her path. I had an idea of what poverty was but after reading Parker’s essay, the ideas I had are shattered into a new realization of the true meaning of poverty. Her definition provides vivid images of what poverty truly means. Parker uses an angry tone, imagery, and repetition to inform readers the dehumanizing effects of poverty. She explains poverty in an angry tone so readers can understand the true meaning of being poor.
Parker is capable of causing the reader to feel many emotions, mainly guilt. She makes the reader feel guilty for the possessions we may have. “You say in your clean clothes coming from your clean house, anybody can be clean” (Parker 168). This causes the reader to feel guilty for having the opportunity to be clean when we know that she does not have the same. Parker then goes on talking about how she has no hot water for herself and her kids. “Hot water is a luxury. I do not have luxuries” (168). Here again, she makes the reader feel guilty that having hot water is a luxury.
I agree with her writing about middle class people having things she does not have because it makes the reader appreciate the things they have in life. People do not think about hot water being a luxury, but Parker explains that having things like soap and hot water are something extravagant. Even though Parker makes the readers feel guilty of her situation, I actually appreciate the things I have now. Parker uses imagery in her essay to make the readers actually see what she is going through. She explains what her living situation is like.
“This is a smell of urine, sour milk, and spoiling food sometimes joined with the strong smell of long-cooked onions” (167). The smell of her home is overpowering and the reason is because she cannot wash the mattresses or bathe herself and her kids with soap. Her and her three kids live like this, it sounds miserable and unhealthy. It is just downright disgusting. I could not imagine living a life like hers, but she went through every moment taking care of herself and her children. She had no help, no husband, and no friends.
Parker puts all this in the readers mind; she makes you see the physical and mental effects of her life. Physically she looks older than she looks, her back is bent from washing clothes, and she has chronic anemia because of her poor diet. Mentally she is just tired of being poor. She is tired of having no capability to provide for herself and her children. 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 single mother and seeing your children sick and dirty is devastating. I cannot image having to go through this. I think the purpose in writing this is not to give them pity but to understand and help people who need it. I think Parker wrote this essay so we can open our eyes and see the truth. This is happening in our towns and most times people do not choose that type of lifestyle. This essay is devastating and is hard to read. I defiantly have a more clear understanding of what poverty truly means.