Poverty In John Steinbeck's 'Tortilla Flat'

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Rushabh Shah English 1B Essay 1 12/05/2010 There are various definitions of poverty depending on the contest of the situation and the views of the person defining it. Poverty could be defined a lack of goods and services necessary to maintain a minimal adequate standard of living. The definition of the term adequate varies, however, with the general standard of living in a society and with public attitudes toward deprivation. No accepted definition of basic needs exists because poverty is a relative concept. In poorer countries it means living at the brink of subsistence, while in the U.S, few improvised families confront starvation, although many suffer from undernourishment. Poverty is problem spreading globally and is a cause of…show more content…
These Paisano’s besides Danny, share one thing in common: they own no materialistic goods. “Danny in proof of his forgiveness, brought out a quart of grappa and shared its fire with his friends” (Steinbeck 45). Although his friends burnt his second house down, Danny managed to find a way to forgive them and share his wine with them. This act of forgiveness truly emphasizes how much Danny values their friendship as he shares his wine, fire and house with his friends, as they have now become homeless. The strength of their friendship is later evident as when they comfort Big Joe after savagely attacking him. “They laid him on Danny’s bed and washed the salt out of his wounds. They put cold cloths on his head and kept his jar full of wine” (Steinbeck 110). Most individuals would let their friend lie there to teach him a lesson never to steal from them, however, these Paisano’s valued and respected each other a lot and came to his aid. In contrary to Steinbeck, Carver conveys general isolation and misery as a result of this economic hardship. From his short story “Neighbors”, “He knew he should hang up now, but it was good to hear a voice” (Carver 32). “When he returned to the telephone he was half afraid she might be off the line” (Carver 33). “Do you think we could meet somewhere we could talk? Just for a few minutes?” (Carver 33).…show more content…
This is due to the respective times at which they were written and seem to mirror these respective times. In 1935, at the height of the Great Depression, poverty was defined as the lack of money. This is how Steinbeck characterizes poverty through the Paisano’s. On the other hand, when Carver was writing his short stories, the general society was more affluent and more economically stable. Between 1935 and 1975, wealth amongst society increased and this created a decline in social connectedness as society grew more materialistic. This resulted in large divisions amongst society based on their economic status. The poor only got poorer, whilst the rich got richer. The poor found them selves detached from society as every one grew more materialistic and were never satisfied with what they had. Carver came from a broken family, who never supported him and this inspires a lot of his stories, as the sequence of event are similar to his own. For this reason, a lot of the characters in his stories are lonely, and unhappy as he lacked a stable family and the support from them. Steinbeck depicts poverty as leading to happiness and this is due to the fact that he did not directly experience severe poverty and he managed to get the support from his father. For this reason, the characters depict happiness and unity as a result of poverty. Due to them writing in their respective times, their

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