What is Poverty?

Exercise: Question & Answers

Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. What is poverty according to Parker?
To Parker, poverty means being filthy and stinky, reusing under diapers for children being obsessed with money, stale food, mental pressure, loss of prestige from society and lack of sanitation.

b. How is poverty difficult for Parker’s children? List some specific examples.
→  Poverty has been a curse for Parker and her children. She was not able to provide an average level of education and stationery items like pencils, paper, books, average food, clothes and shelter for her children even though she worked and struggled very much. She had to save 2 months earnings to buy a vaseline to cure the diaper rashes on her kids.

c. How does Parker try to obtain help, and what problems does she encounter?
→  She tries to obtain a loan by going to a close family member but in vain. For help, she goes to different offices, makes four or five rounds to the building. She enters the room, wanders here and there. Someone finally appears and inquires as to if she needs assistance. But she realises this is the incorrect office after giving him the entire story about her poverty. After that, it’s back to step one. It is like a loop of trouble.

d. Why are people’s opinions and prejudices her greatest obstacles?
→  She feels bad about herself because of other people’s opinions. People who don’t even have faced the difficulties give their opinions to her which are without any doubt, very immature and impractical. Nobody helps her financially but everyone is ready to give her tons of opinions. 

There are schools, they say, but she doesn’t have the money to pay for more books, pens, or anything else she may need. They claim there are health clinics nearby, but in reality, they are located quite a distance from the cities. There’s also the issue of her next-door neighbor’s bigotry. He describes her as a morally bankrupt lady with a slew of illegal offspring. This is a slap in the face to her reputation.

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)?
→  Parker’s condition worsens as she is unable to get any help. She has been unable to get the help she needs from social services, schooling, or health care. Unemployed people like her are taken care of by their insurance. Parker and her children, on the other hand, will not sustain with that.

There are schools but she is unable to purchase more textbooks, pens, or anything else she may need. For the school lunch program, two of her children are too young.

There are health clinics but that distance is too far for her children to walk, and she doesn’t have the money to cover the costs of the trip.

Reference to the context

a. Explain the following?
Poverty is looking into a black future.
→A life of endless fluctuation is implied for people who are poor. Despite the painful condition for their children’s future, they must continue. Their life is without hope, better nutrition, access to health care and education and proper sanitary facilities.

b. What does Parker mean by “The poor are always silent”?
→  What it indicates is that the poor are helpless and weak. They have no option but to speak gently because of their circumstances. Those who are poor are the ones who are bystanders. It is important that they pay attention to what others are saying. As a result of their lack of resources, they keep 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?
I’ve noticed a repeating trend at the beginning of almost every paragraph. Most of the time, she starts her paragraphs with repetition. She repeats the phrase “Poverty is…” often to emphasise her own sense of helplessness and desperation as a result of her financial situation. She hopes to arouse empathy in her readers for the plight of the impoverished. It is her goal to make people feel about the actual image of poverty, not only the one they see in the media, as she intends. She succeeds in building a connection with the audience by writing in an informal, repetitious manner.

Reference beyond the text

a. Define a social problem (homelessness, unemployment, racism) imitating Parker’s style.
→  A Social Problem: Unemployment
Unemployment is a major issue in Nepal. Employment shortage, conceptual framework, flawed national policies, and political instability all contribute to unemployment. As a consequence, every year many Nepalese youths leave the nation.

Unemployment is bad for the nation when youth and young people leave for foreign opportunities. They are the most productive group. This causes a gap and imbalance in the population, hindering prosperity. The young who leave the nation in search of work seldom return.

Unemployment is the biggest cause of a country’s downfall. One of the biggest causes of unemployment in Nepal is a lack of education and technical training. The second reason is that Nepal and Nepalese were never educated to create employment but just to search for them. Many educated professionals flee the nation rather than starting businesses that create employment. That’s because governments do not even encourage or support small businesses.

The Nepalese education system is obsolete and useless. With the internet and technology, many old occupations are becoming outdated. Due to the low value of Nepali education, many degree holders wind up working in low-level jobs.

Unemployment problems can be mitigated for which we must focus on our strengths and work on our weaknesses to address the nation’s unemployment issues and lead Nepal to a brighter future. We must create new industries, modify legislation, and offer vocational and institutional training.

In a nutshell, the Government can and should reduce the rising unemployment rate by improving practical education and industrial regions. Another way to decrease it is via population control.

B. Write a brief definition essay on Growing Up in Poverty using adjectives to emphasise the futility of the circumstance.
→  Growing Up in Poverty: An Essay
Poverty is the most shameful evil of society and an acid which rips off all the pride of people until it is totally ripped off. People in a society are split between those who have and those who have not. It affects impoverished people on many levels, including political, economic, social, psychological, and physical. It causes strife in a community.

Having to grow up in poverty is a terrible experience. We would be without suitable clothing, food, drink, and so forth. Our diet will be deficient in vitamins and minerals. A meal isn’t served to you three times every day. You’d be covered in stains and tears if you wore the clothes. Because of the contamination, the water would be unusable. All of this leads to a wide range of serious health issues.

Black money, corruption, bad farming, and an increasing population are all factors that contribute to poverty. There are various consequences of poverty in the nation. Deaths and child labor are among the many consequences of this. Poverty is a problem that affects all of us.

In order to ensure that farmers have access to all irrigation infrastructure, the government should implement a variety of programs to help the poor, including programs to educate and housing the destitute. It is impossible for people like us to comprehend what it is like to live in poverty.


In the essay entitled ‘What is Poverty?’, author Jo Goodwin Parker has discussed her own experience with rural poverty. She tries to give the real and experienced definition of poverty through this essay citing real-life examples.

She describes her upbringing in poverty and the everyday difficulties she faces. Poverty, in her opinion, has many guises. Poverty is the inability to afford clean water, nutritious food, medical treatment, or appropriate sanitation, as well as an adequate standard of life. Because it’s so destructive to pride, dignity, health, and the future, it’s like a poisonous acid.

She dropped out of school and married young because of her family’s financial situation. She and her husband broke up due to some reasons. Because of her plight, even her spouse turned against her. She could not avoid pregnancy because birth control was too costly for her. Her financial situation prevented her from prioritising health. Because of her three children, she felt guilt and embarrassment if she didn’t seek assistance to conquer this issue.

She states that she does not have enough money to buy clothes for her child and she even wears filthy and dirty clothes. Her job pays less than the minimum she needs to cover her childcare costs as well. Without butter or oil, she serves cornmeal for breakfast to her children. When she ran out of baby diapers to purchase, she didn’t even have enough money to buy skin care creams to care for the rashes.
She opined that today’s world is a world of self-centeredness since despite her best efforts, she received no assistance when she extended her hands to everyone. When it comes to poverty, Parker doesn’t seek pity; instead, she seeks to educate her readers on the real meaning of poverty.
She was unable to get any assistance or support from government organisations or any other relatives. She claims to have no pleasures in her life as a result of the high expense of necessities. According to Parker, living in poverty is comparable to staring into the black future.
She eventually comes to the conclusion that poverty is comparable to an acid that slowly eats away at our pride until it is completely gone. Not being able to afford schooling and other necessities is a sign of poverty. Overall, she says that poverty is a lack of the necessities of life, living in filth, being exhausted, and desiring assistance, as well as being shameful.

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