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Poverty Case Essay

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“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” ― Mother Teresa

It’s frightening to think how those who live under poverty in our country would seem so powerless when in reality are just as powerful. Poverty has the power to disable people from seeing the sun on bright days, while it can enable them to think about the gloomiest ones, desperately resorting to unwanted ways to get what they need. They are equipped with a valid reason for committing crimes and immoral acts, rooting back to poverty, just exactly something we find hard to give solution to.

It is hard to embrace them fully, but is harder to condemn them for feeling so hopeless about their situations. Hopelessness is what fuels these people and it’s a sad reality that the society cannot help but let them do the driving – their own dirty way. Loneliness is another type of poverty, as mentioned by Mother Teresa, and even claimed it as the most terrible of all poverties present.

Sadly, such was what the three major characters in the stories Cat in the Rain, Miss Brill, and A Rose for Emily, experienced. The traits they had in common rooted back to loneliness, being the reason why they thought they had to do unique, and at a point, questionable ways to be accepted and loved in return.

The story Cat in the Rain by Ernest Hemingway focused on the character of an American woman who tries hard to get her husband’s attention by saving a kitten from the rain. As the story develops, it is noticeable that there’s a slight tension between the American couple as emphasized by the husband’s cold treatment to his wife. The wife, in return, recites her desire for things she knows she could not immediately have and will require great effort from her husband to have them. The American wife, enslaved by loneliness and insecurity, displayed selfishness as she repeatedly said, “Anyway, I want a cat. I want a cat. I want a cat now. If I can’t have long hair or any fun, I can have a cat” (Hemingway 106). Desiring for uncommon things during a vacation trip only meant that there was something wrong with the main character.

It wasn’t just the conscious feeling of loneliness that kept her from enjoying the married life; the fact that she wasn’t able to directly express her feelings about how unhappy she is to her husband means that she has been denying the feeling of loneliness herself. The way she felt wasn’t questionable, neither were her feelings unique, but the way she expressed her feelings made them so because she was unconsciously, hardly pressed by her fears. Asking for a cat, and reciting all her desires, “I want to pull my hair back tight and smooth and make a big knot at the back that I can feel… I want to have a kitty to sit on my lap and purr when I stroke her… and I want to eat at a table with my own silver and I want candles. And I want it to be spring and I want to brush my hair out in front of a mirror and I want a kitty and I want some new clothes.” all of a sudden seems unusual, and it sure is one unique way to attract attention and show her longing for acceptance and love. (Hemingway 105)

In comparison to Miss Brill, the American wife is lucky to have someone than no one at all. Miss Brill is an old single woman who wants to be loved in return. Seen in the text is her deep desire to impress other people as she takes time to dress up and try to look beautiful with her favourite old fur necklet before going out to the park. It had been part of her weekly ritual to go out to the park and stroll around, secretly showing how she wants to have her existence validated by the society. Just like the American wife, Miss Brill also has the tendency to shrug off her loneliness, denying the fact that she is unhappy with the way her life is going. This is evident in the first paragraph of the story, “And when she breathed, something light and sad – no, not sad, exactly – something gentle seemed to move in her bosom” (Mansfield 48).

With her shrugging all these feelings off comes the danger of not realizing how desperate her actions seem to other people. These actions, such as eavesdropping on other peoples’ conversations, wearing the old fur necklet and looking silly, acting as if she were on a play, all root from loneliness she had been experiencing. Her desire to be accepted and be united with the community stems from within though she doesn’t seem so conscious of what she exactly wants, thus acting in a weird, odd manner. Miss Brill sought attention and acceptance in a unique way, as her actions and train of thoughts (“…that Miss Brill discovered what it made it so exciting. They were all on stage”) (Mansfield 50) are not normally done and thought about by people who seek the same thing. This proves how much acceptance of one’s weaknesses can help him/her get through it, something that denying can never do.

The same situation was what Miss Emily experienced. Her loneliness came from her lack of freedom back when her father was still alive as he was very strict with the relationships she had with others. By the time her father was gone, she had a hard time relating with the rest of the community, isolating herself inside the house. Just like the two other characters mentioned, Miss Emily also had the tendency to deny this loneliness, bluntly shown when she kept her father’s dead body in her house for three days and not accepting others’ sympathy: “The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom. Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead” (Faulkner 59)

With the constant denial of this loneliness and longing for acceptance, she finds herself obsessing over Homer Barron, who happens to not be a marrying kind and refuses her love for him. Her oppressed feelings for him and her deep desire for his love and acceptance led her to doing unique and questionable actions for her to get him, with or without his consent. As the story progresses, she finds herself purchasing arsenic, a rat poison, and kills Homer Barron without pity. It was a selfish move for her to do; she didn’t even seem to bother about how wrong it was, nor did she think about the possible consequences of such action. What she did was definitely unique and questionable, considering how immoral and selfish it was to kill someone for her own benefit. Just like the American wife who had been pressed by her fears leading to such weird doings, Miss Emily also had her share of fear in losing Homer Barron.

The three female characters’ pursuit of love can be so strongly driven that they find themselves doing unique and questionable ways to be loved and accepted in return. They all had fears empowering the loneliness they were feeling, making them deny this poverty in them more and thus, leading to the unique and questionable ways they did in the story. This only shows how much desires can be so powerful that it can make people do anything to get what it is that would make them happy and complete. It is then, important to be able to accept one’s own weaknesses to be able to know and understand what it is that can fully solve and patch things up, something that denying and concealing can never do.

Works Cited:

[1] “Mother Teresa of Calcutta quotes.” Find the famous quotes you need, ThinkExist.com Quotations.Thinkexist.com, Web. 4 Jan 2013.

[2] Hemingway, Ernest. “Cat in the Rain.” Lit 13 English Dept. Ateneo de Manila University. Quezon City: np., 2012. 103-106. Print.

[3] Mansfield, Katherine. “Miss Brill.” Lit 13 English Dept. Ateneo de Manila University. Quezon City: np., 2012. 48-51. Print.

[4] Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Lit 13 English Dept. Ateneo de Manila University. Quezon City: np., 2012. 57-64. Print.

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