What do you consider poverty to be? Do you have a definitive
explanation of it or do you consider it an abstract circumstance? In the
article “What is Poverty?”, Jo Goodwin Parker gives her ideas on what poverty is.
stereotypes of the poor. With the use of connotative language and the ability
to arouse emotion, Parker successfully compels the reader to examine his or her
thoughts and beliefs on who the poor are.
Parker’s use of connotative language causes the reader to feel many
emotions. Of these emotions, a prominent one is guilt. Parker is capable of
example, she uses the phrase “You say in your clean clothes coming from your
the opportunity to be clean when we all know that she doesn’t have the same.
She calls hot water a “luxury”(Parker 237). To those living in poverty hot
water is a luxury. The unimpoverished take it for granted and never before
considered it anything other than a basic possession. When the reader hears
that someone else calls it a luxury that they cannot afford, he or she can’t
help but feel guilty for having it as a basic possession. Parker also attacks
the guilt of the reader through stories of her children. She knows that some
readers may not feel guilty for things that happen to her, but when children are
paper…”(Parker 238). The reader cannot help but feel guilty for having these
basic things when her children, who need them, do not. Another thing that
Parker makes the audience feel guilty for having is health. She says, talking
about her children, “…most important of all, they do not have health.”(Parker
238). She goes on further to describe what is wrong with them. Parker says,
“They have worms, they have infections, they have pink-eye all summer”(238).
By making the reader feel this way she is increasing the level of guilt the
reader also feels. She is very successful in accomplishing this and this
success causes her argument to become very powerful.
Not only does she make us feel guilty for having possessions that she
knows what society’s stereotypes are and she successfully combats them. Parker
of why she can’t work. She has three children. The last time she had a job the
babysitter she left them with did not take care of them. She returned to find
due to fact that she makes too little (Parker 237). This is why she cannot work.
Her inability to work leads to many of the other stereotypes that society has
of the poor. Society questions why the poor cannot be clean. She tells of how
without money she cannot afford any cleaning supplies (Parker 237). Parker
tells of how she saved for two months to buy a jar of Vaseline and when she had
finally saved enough the price had gone up two cents (237). She cannot wash in
soap because it has to be saved to clean the baby’s diapers (Parker 237). She
effectively shows how society’s stereotypes are incorrect. She is capable of
making the reader feel guilty for the stereotypes and causes the reader to
question why he or she has them. If the audience would just take a little time
to try and understand her situation they would know how unfounded the
Parker is also successful in evoking sympathy from the reader. She uses
connotative language to create disturbing images of what poverty is. For
(Parker 239).” Not only is poverty bad but it is an acid. An acid is a
exists. By this reasoning poverty is destroying her life. This phrase forces
the reader to consider poverty as something worse than they had ever thought
before. She shows poverty as a curse, as a “chisel that chips on honor until
honor is worn away (Parker 239).” Parker starts almost every paragraph with a
(Parker 236), “poverty is dirt” (237), “poverty is asking for help” (237), and
the reader. They all force the reader to imagine poverty in a new way. We all
knew it was bad but Parker makes us realize how bleak poverty is. She shows us
that there is no hope for the poor without understanding.
Parker is successful in getting her point across with her use of
connotative language and her ability to create images. She has done a good job
of attacking the reader and getting him or her to listen to what she has to say.
Even though she attacks the audience she does it in an appropriate way whereas
she does not come across as offensive. All in all, Parker has done a successful
job at creating images and using the readers’ emotion to get an audience to
listen to her plight and the struggles of other’s in her situation.