Is Poverty Easy? Essay, Research Paper
Is Poverty Easy?
Is poverty easy? Some say yes and argue that the poor have so few things to worry about: food and shelter. People say that the poor have little money that they do not think what to do with it and who might be taking it away secretively. Yet, if one drives through their local downtown area and scans the area, one can see that being poor is not easy; rather it is probably the hardest obstacle in life. In George Orwell s Down and Out In Paris and London, Orwell tells a personal experience with poverty and his outlook of it. Even Orwell himself, like many people, thought it [poverty] would be quite simple. But as the days past without adequate food and shelter he began to realize that it is extraordinarily complicated.
Orwell s first encounter with poverty was the lack of a social life. People on the streets would look at his clothes and then shun him. He suddenly realized his clothes put him instantly into a new world (129). He also noticed for the first time how the attitude of women varies with a man s clothes. When a badly dressed man passes them they shudder away from him with a quite frank movement of disgust, as though he were a dead cat (129). I realize this phenomenon happening all the time too. When watching a video doing one of my classes, it discussed two people entering a job interview wearing different attire. One was wearing a business suit while the other jeans and a t-shirt. The one dressed more professional was instantly hired and the other one was not. Orwell also noticed himself darting in and out of stores to avoid friends who would question about his negative appearance. He was so embarrassed about his appearance and his social status that capping his existence from rest of world was the only way he could deal with the situation. Orwell learned that the poor were labeled as tramps. It did not matter where one begged or what one looked like, they were all the same to the real world; they were all tramps (200). And because Orwell was a tramp he was also naturally despised (174) by the world. Why were they despised? Orwell did not quite know but he felt it was for the simple reason that they fail to earn a decent living (174). Thus, if the poor runs away from the world and are universally labeled as tramps, who would want to associate with them?
During Orwell s taste of poverty, he learned that food and shelter were very hard to come by. Orwell s first night on the street was very frightening. He learned the true hardships of finding a decent place to stay at night. He asked a man where he could find a place to stay for the night and was pointed to a local doss house. The doss house was cheap but it had a sweetish reek of paregoric and foul linen (130). The sheets stank so horribly of sweat that I could not bear them near my nose (130). With Orwell s wonderful description of the doss houses, one can feel how disgusting they are. Orwell s next task was to find a decent meal that would not rob him of his money. He stumbled into a caf and asked a lady for some tea and bread and butter. He was baffled by the price of threepence halfpenny. Washing himself was also a task that was quite difficult. At the doss house, there was a tub of water but it was streaked with grime-solid, sticky filth as black as boot-blacking (131). The sight of the water quickly pushed out all ideas of washing up. One of the toughest tasks that Orwell realized was managing 10 shillings in a week s period. But he soon realized from a friend that it was possible if he only spent the money on necessities: shelter, food, and a haircut. Thus, Orwell realized that maybe the poor had tough issues with money because the meals were expensive and in order to find a decent home for the night, much money had to be spent. I have always believed that the poor have financial problems or they would not be poor. It is very difficult to manage very little money when the expenses are so great.
Why do the poverty just dig themselves out of the hole? This crossed Orwell s mind several times but he finally knew why that was virtually impossible. In order for the poor to get out of the hole is for them to save money. And in order to earn money they can achieve it in three ways: work, steal, or beg. Working is out of the question because no person in the right state of mind would ever higher a tramp to work for them because tramps are known to be lazy. Stealing is illegal and if caught, would be punished severely. So the only practical way of making money was to beg. This, however, was not too easy because of the strict laws governing begging. As the law now stands, if you approach a stranger and ask him for twopence, he can call a policeman and get you seven days for begging (172). But if you make some effort to earn that money, scrawl some chalk daubs on the pavement, or stand about with a tray of matches (172), you can make money without worrying. However, the money a beggar earns is never enough to be saved because they have to spend it on food and shelter. Thus, one can see that no matter how the poor gets their money, it is never enough to get themselves out of the hole because they never make enough. This concept is very real because most beggars in our society do not make any money at all. And the money they do make is used towards necessary expenses to stay alive. As a result, they do not have enough money to save up to cross the poverty line.
After George Orwell s encounter with poverty, he became aware of the hardships that come with poverty: finding food and shelter, dealing with social issues, and attempting to come out of it. In today s society, it is practically the same. When we are driving down the streets of Downtown LA and see a person dressed in rags, we despise them and quickly drive by. When we see a person with a squeegy in one hand and a bucket of water in the other, we quickly take a different route. All of these actions affect the poor because that is the way they make their money to survive daily. By purposely ignoring the poor, we are making their lives harder because they will never be able to get themselves out of that hole.