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Poverty in Everyday Use, Sonny's Blues, and The Cathedral Essay

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Poverty in Everyday Use, Sonny's Blues, and The Cathedral
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Comparing ?Everyday Use?, ?Sonny?s Blues? and ?The Cathedral?, one can conclude that they share a common meaning. Although all three stories consider poverty as their theme, each chooses to elaborate it in a different manner. In fact, ?Everyday Use? emphasizes on the state of extreme poverty in which certain people live. On the other hand, ?Sonny?s Blues? contributes to the theme by describing the poverty of spirit of Harlem?s ?inner kids?. Carver?s ?The Cathedral?, however, prefers to explore the notion of poverty as a state of one?s mind rather than the environment in which one lives.

In ?Everyday Use?, Alice Walker chooses to develop the idea of poverty by focusing exclusively on the environment in which her protagonists live. Setting attributes, such as the ones used to describe the house in which the protagonists reside, enables us to better understand the theme. In fact, the dwelling does not even have any real windows. Instead, it has holes cut in the sides, like the portholes of a ship, but not round and not square, with rawhide holding the shutters up on the outside. Then, Walker proceeds with inside description of the house as she points out that the protagonists use benches for their table instead of chairs because they cannot financially afford any. Further, the author supports the theme by providing us with some physical description of specific objects. The use of quilts that ?Grandma Dee? sewed from the scraps of her dress and the churn that Uncle Henry whittled from the wood is not derived from the protagonists? intention to preserve ?family values? but rather from a necessity to ?survive?.

In ?Sonny?s Blues?, the theme of...


... middle of paper ...


...nt from the happiness that he has with his own wife.

The notion of poverty has a very expanded meaning. Although all three stories use poverty as their theme, each interprets it differently. Consequently, it does not necessarily mean the state of extreme misery that has been described in ?Everyday Use?. As Carver points out, poverty may refer to poverty of one?s mind, which is caused primarily by the lack of education and stereotyped personality. Finally, poverty may reflect the hopelessness of one?s mind. Realizing that no bright future awaits them, Harlem kids find no sense in their lives. Unfortunately, the satisfaction of realizing their full potential does not derive from achieving standards that are unachievable by others. Instead, it arises uniquely from denigrating others, as the only way to be higher than someone is to put this person lower than you.


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