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What is Poverty by Jo Goodwin Parker Summary and Exercise - Grade -12 English: NEB

This essay titled 'What is Poverty?' was written by Jo Goodwin Parker, Brief Summary Complete Exercise of What is Poverty?

What is Poverty Summary and Exercise?

Brief Summary

An anonymous person named Jo Goodwin Parker from West Virginia, in the southern United States, wrote this personal essay titled “What is Poverty?” With a note from Jo Goodwin Parker, she mailed her essay to George Henderson, a professor at the University of Oklahoma. This essay was later published without any additional information about the author or source. This essay contains the writer’s painful life experiences as well as the hardships she faced as a result of her poverty. She has detailed her dreadful childhood and adulthood experiences.

Summary - I

This essay titled 'What is Poverty?' was written by an anonymous person named Jo Goodwin Parker from West Virginia in the United States South. With the signature of Jo Goodwin Parker, this essay was mailed to George Henderson, a professor at the University of Oklahoma. This essay was later published with no further information about its author or source. The essay was published with the facts of a woman's hardships as a result of poverty. In this essay, we learn about the writer's painful experiences in her life as a result of her poverty. She has described her miserable experiences ranging from childhood to adulthood, during which she has faced a variety of adversities. She has discussed various aspects of poverty in this essay. 

The writer has provided a realistic and graphic account of what it is like to be poor on a daily basis. Poverty, she claims, is more heinous and cruel than depicted in the media. Poverty, according to her, is a state of living without hope, better food, medical care, proper sanitation, and proper education. It's like an acid that eats away at one's pride, honour, health, and future. Parker's main goal is to demonstrate how humiliating, and disgusting it is to be poor. She wishes to draw the attention of the readers to the plight of the poor. She wants her readers to understand poverty without feeling sorry for her. Poor people live restless life, fearing for their children's future. Poverty shatters relationships. 

Parker was the mother of three children. Because of their financial situation, her husband abandoned her. He didn't have a steady job. Due to the burden of his family, he abandoned all of them without even saying goodbye. During that time, their condition deteriorated. They didn't even have enough money to buy contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancies. She was employed. She was only making $22 per week at the time. She had anaemia as a result of her poor diet. The doctor advised her to have surgery, but she did not have the funds. She struggled alone to care for her children and faced a variety of difficulties during the cold and summer seasons' days and nights. 

She once left her children in the care of her mother. When she returned home, however, she discovered her children in a pitiful state. Her youngest son was covered in fly specks, and he hadn't had his diaper changed since the morning. Her next child was playing with broken glasses, and her oldest son was alone at the lake's edge. She didn't have enough money to enrol them in a nursery school. She had to pay $20 per week for three children to be admitted. Her income, however, was only $22. She decided to leave her job in order to care for the children. 

Summary - II

In this essay, Jo Goodwin Parker has described her life living in poverty and her daily struggles for the sake of her family. According to her poverty has many faces. For her poverty is living with dirt, living without hope, better foodstuff, medical care, proper sanitation, and proper education. It is like an acid that destroys one’s pride, honour, health, and future. She describes herself as dirty, smelly, and living life without proper clothes. She also describes that due to the high cost of essential things she does not have luxuries in her life.

She could not even afford the necessary items because of her poverty. She could not even get any help and support from the government agencies because it never exists in her area. She wants to get help through various agencies but she has no means to travel to reach them. Her job even does not support her to get out of her situation because it does not pay enough for the expense of child care. So Parker writes that poverty is looking into a black future because running life on a daily basis itself is a great challenge. In this situation, no one can expect a good future.

Parker does not want sympathy but she wants an understanding of her readers about poverty. Because of poverty, she left school at a very early age, got married, became pregnant many times because birth control was expensive for her. Even her husband left her because of poverty. her economic status was too poor so health does not come as a priority and could not do her operation in time. She used to give cornbread without oil as a breakfast to her kids. She did not buy soap in order to buy her baby diapers. She visited various government and private agencies to ask for help but could not find the right person to help her. She felt shame and humiliation for the sake of her three children. She had to spread her hands in different places.

What is Poverty? Summary and Exercise - Grade -12 English: NEB

Complete Exercise of What is Poverty? 

Understanding the Text

a. What is poverty according to Parker?

Answer - I 

According to Parker, poverty is about lack of having enough money for necessities, better foodstuffs, very little education and little or no access to health care. It is like an acid that destroys pride, honour, health and future. Overall poverty means living without hope, better foods, medical care and proper education.

Answer - II

It means that poor people have to live restless life. They have to survive looking at the dark future of their children. It is also living without hope, better foods, medicinal care, proper sanitation, and proper education.

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

Answer - I

Parker’s three children suffer a lot due to poverty. They live their miserable lives due to the lack of proper foodstuffs, education, clothing and care. Parker has presented the very bad condition of her children along with her.

According to her, they eat oil-less cornbread as a breakfast. They wear dirty clothes. They aren’t sent to a school. Parker has informed us about a day’s event when she left her children under the care of her mother during her job. When she returned, she found her youngest covered with flyspecks whose diaper hadn’t been changed since morning. Her next son was playing with the broken glasses. Her eldest son was playing on the edge of the lake. Her children would play in the dirt. In this way, poverty is difficult for Parker’s children.

Answer - II

Parker’s three youngsters are seriously hindered because of their family’s monetary circumstances. They live in hopelessness because of an absence of sufficient food, instruction, dress, and clinical consideration. When she left the kids under the consideration of their grandma. She discovered her youngsters under pitiable condition when she got back. Her most youthful child was covered with fly spots and his diaper had not been changed since morning.

Her other kid was playing with broken glasses and the most seasoned one was playing alone at the edge of a lake. She needed more pay to concede them at a nursery school. She made 20 dollars per week and a nursery school cost 20 dollars per week for three kids. In this way, she left her place of employment.

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

Answer - I

Parker tries to obtain help from different people but she was rejected. She asks her relative for a loan, but her relative wanted something in return. She also tried in different offices for jobs and asked for loans too. She had to describe her pathetic condition to many people to get help. Finally, someone comes out and asks her if she needs help. That isn’t the person she needs to see. She goes to see another person. After telling him the whole story about her poverty she finds that this is the wrong office. Then, she must repeat the whole process. In this way, Parker has to encounter a lot of problems.

Answer - II

Parker tries to ask for a loan for her children, but it takes time. She has to visit an office and meet one person after another telling her problem. They do not happen to be the right ones. Then she is told to wait. At last, she is sad and full of shame. 

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

Answer - I

People’s opinions and prejudices are her greatest obstacles because these aspects prevent her from getting supportive hands for the sake of her family. She was dominated by other people due to her poor condition. Most people don’t realize the bitter experience of poverty. For them, the pain of poor people is nothing. They keep on giving their free advice as if being poor is a curse and it is easy to come out of poverty. When she asks for help, some want to take advantage of her helplessness. Such prejudices make her unable to get help.

Answer - II

People’s opinions make her feel guilty. They say there are schools, but she has no money for extra books, pencils, etc. They say there are health clinics, which are actually too far in the towns. There is her neighbour’s prejudice. He calls her an immoral woman with illegitimate children. This destroys her honour. 

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)?

Answer - II

Parker defends her inability to get help through her opinions and by expressing her experiences of poverty. She discounts the usual solutions society has for poverty by drawing the attention of people towards the pathetic state of poor people. She says that living without hope, medical care, and proper education is like an acid that destroys pride, honour, health and future. She has to move and spread her hands in many agencies in the name of welfare where she has to be ashamed and humiliated.

She has to prove her poverty time and again and face rejection. In the name of education, school-launched programs are there but they are of no use. She has experienced her two children’s condition after sending them to school. Parker’s life is quite away from health clinics’ facilities. To get medical help, she has to walk miles. If she asks for someone’s help, the helper expects negative things from her. Thus, Parker shows how shameful, humiliating and disgusting it is to be poor.

Answer - II

Parker is unable to get help. The usual solutions like welfare, education and health clinics do not work in her case. Unemployed people get insurance. But it is not enough to fulfil the needs of Parker and her children. There are schools. But she cannot afford extra books, pencils, etc. there are school lunch programs, but two of her children are not of school age. There are also health clinics. But they are in the towns, 8 miles far from her village. Her children cannot walk that long, and she has no money for the trip.


Reference to the Context

a. Explain the following: Poverty is looking into a black future.

Answer: This line “Poverty is looking into a black future” has been stated by the writer Jo Goodwin Parker in her essay. She has put forward this line for her readers to present her experience of poverty. She thinks that the poor can’t provide proper food and education to their children. Nor they can maintain cleanliness and sound health because they don’t have money. Such conditions ultimately invite disease, helplessness, hunger, unemployment, crimes etc. So, poverty leads people towards the black future. Poor people have to live a miserable life on a daily basis. They have no hope of any betterment. They keep on spending their lives in disparity looking into a black future. Poverty breaks expectations and dreams of the future.

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

Answer - I

“The poor are always silent” means the helplessness of poor people who cannot spend money on healthcare and medicine. When the question of money arises, they are silent, because they can’t even dream of having expensive medical operations, eating in restaurants, wearing fashionable dresses, going to quality schools etc. They have no words in response because they are completely helpless. Where money speaks, they are voiceless. They have a very pathetic situation.

Answer - II

It means that the poor are helpless and weak. They can’t speak louder due to their poverty. The poor have the role of listeners. They have to listen to what others say. They lack resources so that they are always silent. 

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?

Answer - I

In this essay, the author uses her repetition strategy at the beginning of most of the paragraphs. She repeats the phrase “Poverty is”. The essay is well organized where she repeats the word – poverty many times. That means her main concern is poverty and she is showing her bitter feelings and frustrations about her miserable conditions. The whole essay sounds like a casual conversation. She is talking to an imaginary reader who does not understand what poverty is. She uses satire and humour in the middle.

Answer - II

Yes, I notice the recurring pattern at the beginning of most of the paragraphs. She uses the repetition strategy at the beginning of most of the paragraphs. She uses the repetition ”Poverty is…” to highlight her inner pain and suffering as a poor. She wants to bring readers sympathy for all the poor people. Her intention is to make the readers feel about the real picture of the poor not as in the newspaper. By using the informal repetitive style, she becomes successful to establish a relationship between the speaker and the readers. 

d. How does Parker develop each paragraph? What details make each paragraph memorable?

Answer: Parker develops each paragraph starting with her repetition strategy. She begins most of her paragraphs with a repetition statement as “Poverty is”. She then provides her personal experiences about her topic sentences.

The images of poverty that she mentioned in each paragraph are memorable. She says poverty is a chisel that chips on honour is worn away. The really poor people have an inferiority complex due to the economic factor. Their honour is really scattered. Even if the man is wise and intellectual he can do nothing in front of the wealthy. The details related to her personal painful experiences and the bitter reality of poverty make each paragraph memorable.

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

Answer: In the final paragraph, the author uses questions in her informal style of direct conversation to involve the readers in the issue of poverty. In the final paragraph she uses the question “can you be silent too?” where she wants to describe her silence due to the poverty that she faced in her life. She asked us that if the poor are silent and should be silenced too. Parker is capable of causing the reader to feel many emotions and forces the reader to question her own stereotypes of poor Parker is capable of making the reader feel guilty for the possessions that she has. She wanted to make attention to the reader to solve the problems of poor people. They must not think about themselves only she said not to be silent and help others for their better future. She asked the reader if his/her in that situation, can they be silent too. Poor people are always active to raise their voices. So, Parker wanted the reader to give their attention to the poor too.


Reference Beyond the Text

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

A Social Problem: Unemployment

Unemployment the word itself if stays longer would affect the cost of the economy. The entire individual who is not working in the referenced period falls under the category of unemployment. They might be anyone who is highly skilled or has no skills.

When unemployment reaches above the expected rates it subtle the growth and leads to social issues. With no money, there is no education, food resources and basic elements for the survivor. Whether someone is homeless or has no job, this all head place to social issues.

In conclusion, unemployment is the major problem that creates disturbance, stress and lowers down a growing economy. The personal and social concern has been associated with poverty, population, lack of technologies, health risks, and slow expansion of the business. All these issues arise when unemployment exponentially grow within countries. This certainly remarks about the serious problems of housing and hopeless life. Unemployment causes harm for the economy not in the sense of waste of resources but also by building pressure on the community.

A Social Problem: Unemployment 

Unemployment is one of the burning social problems of the world. It is a bizarre situation where people are qualified for the jobs but not getting them. Many degree holders, teachers, innovators, etc are the victims of this social evil. We are failing to utilize valuable human resources due to unemployment. The most important cause behind it is less availability of jobs. Other causes are defective governmental policies, lack of practical skill and increasing population. It is necessary to establish a stable government to make plans for youth employment. Every year, many youths leave their country in a search of better opportunities. Every year, educated youths become unemployed due to theoretical knowledge. So, this social evil is devastating for every nation. 

Many educated people are doing traditional farming due to a lack of opportunities in the labour market. Nepal is a non-industrial nation. Because of political unsteadiness and enormous corruption, developmental activities are at an exceptionally sluggish speed. It is the main cause behind obstructions for landing position opportunities for the huge mass of youths. As a result, ‘brain drain’ happens. There are different effects of unemployment. One of the major effects is poverty. In the world, unemployed people had the highest rate of poverty. Unemployment also causes health hazards. There is a close strong relationship between unemployment and health. Unemployment also causes physical as well as mental illness, such as depression.  

Summing up, the government has to play a very crucial role by minimizing the growing unemployment by increasing practical education as well as industrial areas. Population control is also another method to reduce it. 

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

Essay - I

Growing Up in Poverty

Poverty is a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials for a minimum standard of living. Poverty means that the income level from employment is so low that basic human needs can’t be met. Poverty-stricken people and families might go without proper housing, clean water, healthy food, and medical attention. Each nation may have its own threshold that determines how many of its people are living in poverty.

Growing up in poverty is annoying and frustrating and never allows you to be happy. When one cannot manage the minimum requirements of life like food, education and health, that life is a punishment. One’s creativity and natural talent can never come out. Rather such a situation humiliates him and he can never live a dignified human life. Disparity and inequality never let him be free and do something good in his life. Growing up in poverty is a frightening experience where one has to face various hardships and struggles. It provides him with a tiring and worrying experience where pains are always ready to welcome him.

Essay - II

Poverty is the devastating social evil of our society. It creates division in society. People in society is divided between the haves and have-nots. It has political, economic, social, psychological and physical effects on poor people. It is very difficult to grow up in poverty. We fail to fulfil our basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. We always become silent in poverty. We are deprived of basic human rights in poverty. A person loses self-confidence, self-esteem, honour and dignity when he/she suffers from it. It is a vicious circle that repeats from one generation to another generation if one generation fails to climb the ladder of poverty. It is a shameful stage where nobody cares about you. 

You have to survive without the dignity of humans. So, growing up poverty is a bay where you have to live until you reach your targeted land. Most of the victims of social crimes are poor people. They lack proper shelter and security to save them from the crimes. Innocent poor children are the major victims of it. The world’s major problems like child trafficking, malnutrition and drug addiction are the results of devastating poverty.  The ultimate solution to reduce poverty is to spread practical based free education to all. Government should focus on education. In the same way, it is necessary to increase employment opportunities for people because poverty and unemployment are interlinked to each other. The emotional and mental effects are far-reaching. 

A permanent sense of low self-esteem, lack of confidence and inadequacy is their constant companion. Their stress hormone cortisol responsible for regulating the body’s response to threats from external changes is always spiked up leading to constantly feeling victimised, threatened and insecurity. Poorer mental health affects their ability to learn and adjust. If living a life constantly under the glare of poverty doesn’t kill them, it certainly leaves them weaker and withered and beaten. 

However, the circumstance under which life is suffered under the shadow of poverty certainly leaves any individual much the worse as it deprives him of the right to achieve his potential as a free and equal member of society. Summing up, it is also true that some of the most illuminating examples of humanity, sensitivity and empathy have emerged from the darkest recesses of poverty. Life redeems and allows us to hope that better access to better opportunities and facilities of life shall perhaps one day help to free them from these shackles and allow them to live life as an equal and deserving member of the society

a. What is poverty according to Parker? 

Ans: Parker defines poverty mainly as living in lack of even basic requirements. There is not enough diet nor medical care and sanitation for a healthy life. Poverty is shameful as it destroys honour while begging for help. And the future is hopeless. There is never enough money, so Parker lives in smell and dirt. There are insects, unchanged old mattresses and rotting garbage. There is no indoor toilet, nor hot water. Prices rise before she has saved enough to buy cream for her cracked hands and diapers for babies. She cannot send her children to good schools. 

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

Ans: Parker’s three youngsters are seriously hindered because of their family’s monetary circumstances. They live in hopelessness because of an absence of sufficient food, instruction, dress, and clinical consideration. When she left the kids under the consideration of their grandma. She discovered her youngsters under pitiable condition when she got back. Her most youthful child was covered with fly spots and his diaper had not been changed since morning. Her other kid was playing with broken glasses and the most seasoned one was playing alone at the edge of a lake. She needed more pay to concede them at a nursery school. She made 20 dollars per week and a nursery school cost 20 dollars per week for three kids. In this way, she left her place of employment. 

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

Ans: Parker tries to ask for a loan for her children, but it takes time. She has to visit an office and meet one person after another telling her problem. They do not happen to be the right ones. Then she is told to wait. At last, she is sad and full of shame. 

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

Ans: People’s opinions make her feel guilty. They say there are schools, but she has no money for extra books, pencils, etc. They say there are health clinics, which are actually too far in the towns. There is her neighbour’s prejudice. He calls her an immoral woman with illegitimate children. This destroys her honour. 

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