Tag Archives: poverty

A Teacher, Lit, & a Jailed Student

In “Reading with Patrick,” English teacher Michelle Kuo works with a student in 8th grade and then later after he has killed a man. The story brings up questions about lit’s impact.

Posted in Baum (L. Frank), Lewis (C. S.), Robinson (Marilynne), Whitman (Walt) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Am Lazarus Come Back from the Dead

I’ve just realized that the Lazarus mentioned in Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is a different once than I’ve been assuming. This makes me appreciate the poem even more.

Posted in Dostoevsky (Fyodor), Eliot (T.S.) | Also tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clifton & America’s Eviction Epidemic

The United States at the moment is going through an eviction epidemic–which brings to mind a powerfully simple Lucille Clifton poem about an evicted family.

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Pope Francis as Shaw’s St. Joan

Christianity is all very well in its place, but when Pope Francis comes to America counseling a dismantling of capitalism, he gets the same response that Joan of Arc does in “St. Joan.”

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The Inner City: Stay or Leave?

How do we get young people to stay in the inner city and make it a better place? Baldwin’s “Sonny Blues” gives us a sense of what is possible.

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Why Baltimore Blacks Are Down and Out

Black poverty in Baltimore has racial causes that are invisible to most people. Dickens would understand.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

GOP Budget Proposes Gruel Cuts

Mean-spirited legislators who seek to cut food stamps and other programs for the poor bear more than a little resemblance to the workhouse authorities in “Oliver Twist.”

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Raised in Foster Care, Saved by Oates

Joyce Carol Oates’ Wonderland Quartet provided a lifeline for this woman who grew up in foster care.

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Unemployment & “the Undeserving Poor”

Are those who will lose unemployment insurance tomorrow deserving or undeserving of support? George Bernard Shaw has something to say about that.

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Feeling the Pinch During the Holidays

Barbara Kingsolver gives a vivid depiction of life for the working poor during the holiday season.

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Life for the Poor Is No Crystal Stair

NYT columnist Charles Blow appears to be channeling Langston Hughes as he gives advice to the poor.

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Grapes of Wrath, Still Relevant

Life today is a far cry from the Great Depression, but Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” is still relevant.

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Gingrich Auditions for a Dickens Villain

Newt Gingrich’s proposal that poor children be allowed to serve as janitors in their schools calls for a Dickensian response.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Also tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Is America Selling Its Soul?

The 1941 film “The Devil and Daniel Webster” is unsettling by how relevant to our current day economic crisis is its story of America selling its soul.

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The Cost of Poverty: “Unnatural Cruelties”

As the Census Bureau reports the highest number of poor people since it has been publishing figures, it’s worth turning to George Bernard Shaw’s “Major Barbara,” which reveals the true cost of poverty.

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It Sucks to Be Poor

Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” offers a response to those who want to blame the recession on the poor.

Posted in Alexie (Sherman) | Also tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Reaching Out to the Needy in Tough Times

Yet having nothing, the Joads still share. In the final scene of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck taps into the legend of “Roman Charity” where a daughter breastfeeds her starving father. In this case, however, Rose of Sharon feeds a starving stranger. A new human family is rising out of the ashes of the old.

Posted in Steinbeck (John) | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Forget Bootstrapism – We Need Each Other

  Always be suspicious of people who talk about pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. The image is an excellent one since you can only rise if you have help from others. Yet many people think they are somehow diminished if they can’t claim to have risen on their own. Thanks to Dickens, there […]

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

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