Composition Essays on shame of poverty
Shame is described as a feeling of dishonor by oneself or by other people. Shame can therefore be internally or externally caused. In Gregory article Shame, Gregory reminisces about his earlier childhood that was filled with shame about his poverty status. Prior to going to school, Gregory was not aware that poverty could bring shame but when the teacher made known his poverty status in front of the whole class, Gregory learnt about the shame that came with his financial status. The teacher is a representative of how the external causes of shame while Gregory’s shame about his poverty status was internal. Poverty and shame are intertwined with the former causing the later. In his article Shame, Gregory shows how the external forces and the internal forces contribute to associating poverty with shame
At the beginning of the article, Gregory states that he never knew shame until he went to school. In his school there was a tradition where students would bring money from their parents to give the ‘Community Chest’ but the day before children were asked to give the pledges of their parents. The teacher called the name of every other child in class but left out Gregory. She made it known that the money put in the Community Chest was meant to help “your Kind” (Gregory, Shame). She refers to poor people as “your kind” to show that Gregory and those in a similar position were society misfits. She pointed out rather mercilessly that Gregory was a charity case. It was from this point that Gregory learnt to be ashamed of his poverty. There is stigma associated with poverty and it has its roots in society. In some instances there is public shaming about those in poverty receiving relief where relief is not seen as a right but rather as a reward (Walker and Chase 10). Terms like “living of benefits” are used in the society to describe poor people and these phrases tend to insinuate that those in poverty are lazy and responsible for their own predicament.
Self-awareness is another cause of shame. Once an individual is aware of how others think of him/her, they became aware of the society’s disapproval of their actions or status. In Gregory’s case, he became aware of his shame at school. From then on, Gregory realized that he was different form other children. The shame that was brought by his self-awareness caused him to stop attending school on the regular. From then on, Gregory saw himself as a misfit and was aware of how the society perceived those in his position. He felt shame attending the Worth Boy’s annual Dinner because his poverty made him feel unworthy. Poverty brings with it the feeling of unworthiness and can affect how those in poverty socialize (Shildrick and Rucell, 25). Most choose to keep to themselves other than mingle with people of different classes who they feel are judging them.
Poverty and shame are intertwined showing that the negative effects of poverty extend beyond financial hardship (Walker, Poverty, Shame and Social Exclusion). People in poverty are ashamed of their position and the society adds to this shame by treating them as unworthy. Most children are not aware of the shame associated with their poverty but interactions with the society make them aware of their unworthiness. Shame associated with poverty is therefore internal and external.
Gregory, Dick. Shame. Internet resource. http://peyilu.dlearn.kmu.edu.tw/e-read/file/Shame_and_Daddy_Tucked_the_Blanket.pdf Accessed 1May. 2017
Shildrick, Tracy and Rucell, Jessica. Sociological Perspectives on Poverty. https://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/default/files/jrf/sociological-perspectives-poverty-full.pdf Accessed May 1. 2017.
Walker, Robert and Chase Elaine. Adding to the shame of poverty: the public, politicians and the media. http://www.cpag.org.uk/sites/default/files/CPAG-adding-to-the-shame-of-poverty-Jul14.pdf Accessed May 2. 2017.
Walker, Robert. Poverty, Shame and Social Exclusion. 2012. Internet Resource. http://povertyshamedignity.spi.ox.ac.uk/fileadmin/documents/PDF/WP1_Cultural_conceptions_synthesis.pdf Accessed May 2. 2017.