A Critique of the book "Poor People" by William T. Vollmann

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The novel, Poor People

The novel, titled Poor People, was written by William T. Vollmann from the eyes of the underprivileged. Aside from Poor People, he is the author of seven books, three story collections, and a seven-volume criticism of crime, Rising Up and Rising Down. The author is the recipient of the PEN Center USA West Award for Fiction, the Whiting Writers' Award, and the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize. His writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Spin, and Granta. This article, on the other hand, is completely focused on one of his novels, Poor People.<\/p>

The Level of Suffering in Society

The author accomplishes his goal by educating his listeners about the level of suffering in society. The information he provides in his book is accurate in my view because they are not and far-fetched but rather drawn from personal experiences of the unfortunate. It is said that a wearer of the shoes knows where it pinches most, which is why I treat the information as accurate to the actual reality in the society (Vollmann 36). The information the writer has provided about poverty is significant in the sense that it gives practical insights into various aspects of poverty in the community. For instance, he talks about absolute and relative poverty and identifies those without access to basic needs that include food, clothing, and shelter on the one hand (Vollmann 38). On the contrary, he recognizes relative poverty as perceived in the minds of some group of people who despite accessing basic needs, still feel impoverished because they cannot afford to buy other items such as cars and TVs as others do.<\/p>

A Bold Approach to Unearthing the Ills in Society

The author is fair in his use of information, unlike other writers who make certain ugly situations look attractive, Vollmann has taken a bold approach to unearthing the ills in the society in a manner that does not impress the make-it-look-good people (Vollmann 40). He identifies real and relative poverty and does not regard all people without money as unfortunate. For instance, he asserts that people with money can who consider themselves unwanted, estranged, or invisible from the community are underprivileged people. In other words, his analysis of poverty goes beyond the material wealth and finds unique features, or life encounters that amount to poverty.<\/p>

Redefining Poverty

In his bid to convince his audience, the author has emphasized the folly of rigid categorization of poverty that bits the conventional notion of economic benefits that normally revolves around money and basic needs. Conversely, Vollmann has ensured that he writes a book that does not have a unified profound thesis, but rather holding up on various frames of arguments (Vollmann 45). Consequently, the book employs little economic theory, statistics, as well as anthropology in the meditations of the author. The arguable assertions that Vollmann has put forth in his pursuit to convince his audience include; poverty is not all about having money because some people have money but are still deprived from other perspectives. Moreover, while the standard parameter for measuring poverty is determining how much money one person has more than another, such arguments have exceptions. He further gives an example of a hunter in the forest who despite having no money is not poor. The author recognizes that underprivileged people are no fewer humans just like himself and therefore, deserve fair judgment and precise understanding.<\/p>

Symptoms of Poverty

The author uses absolute terms especially while anticipating the intellectual capacity necessary for the definition of poverty and he concludes that nobody possesses such quality. In that regard, he identified symptoms of poverty to include invisibility, estrangement, "unwantedness," accident-prone-ness, pain, deformity, numbness, dependence as well as amortization and false-consciousness. Vollmann argues that a person who can work is not inferior and that implies that the symptoms make people not to be in a position to provide for themselves (Vollmann 49). He demonstrates some instances when a person feels impoverished despite having money just because she feels unwanted, estranged and invisible in the society. Such circumstances make people dependent on others for survival.<\/p>

The Impact of Deformity and False Consciousness

Conversely, the deformity is relevant to his arguments in the sense that it disables a person, making attaining personal goals in life a great challenge. False consciousness is critical to the question of the cause of poverty in society. The concept refers to the Marxist theory that defines a scenario where people cannot sense negative forces of equity and development such as exploitation, oppression, and other forms of social injustices that often make the situation worse. On the other hand, amortization refers to reducing the amount of something, say debt by regularly paying it off. The term is relevant to poverty in that just like debts; debt can be reduced slowly despite the aspect that the author admits that full amortization of poverty is a herculean task, if not impossible (Vollmann 53). The author puts the information as he got it from the poor people themselves. He does a little filtering of information and I consider it fair because the purpose of persuading his audience was to enable them to get direct views of the unfortunate people instead of receiving doctored reports. Firsthand information and experiences are more persuasive and informative that filtered reports that lack a personal touch.<\/p>

Entertaining and Contemplative

Reading Vollmann's work is entertaining I various ways especially from the style of his writing. For instance, he tells interesting but incomplete stories that make his readers even eager to learn more. The personal story from the experiences of the unfortunate from across the world makes the readers have a glimpse of exactly what poverty looks. Moreover, the arguments he put forth are interrogative in nature. The pictorials in the book offer a live perspective of poverty and its impact on the lives of numerous victims some of which personally contributed to the success of the work (Vollmann 43). As one of the excellent writers, Vollmann employs a touch of anachronism that enhances the pleasure of reading his work especially by matching his loose and eccentric structure while presenting his arguments. The questions are critical to the book in the sense that they can be used to further trigger inquiries into the various aspects of research that Vollmann did to help iron out contentious issues especially alluded by his critiques.<\/p>

The Success of Vollmann's Authorship

The author succeeds in his purpose of informing, persuading as well as entertaining his audience through using firsthand information from the poor people around the world. The half-stories told by the author makes reading exciting as readers yearn for more details (Vollmann 43). His style of writing and pictures of various contributors builds on attaining the intended goals of his authorship.<\/p>

Work Cited

Vollmann, William T. Poor People. New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 2008. Print.

December 21, 2022
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