About Poverty

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In most cases, people in positions of leadership abuse their dominance by oppressing and exploiting the vulnerable in society. The term "poor" can refer not only to a person's physical endowment and power, but also to his or her economic and social capabilities. In the face of authoritarian leadership, the people are eventually motivated to rise up and fight for their interests by their governments. The process of reclaiming what is rightly theirs may take some time because it is a slow process, similar to the rise of revolutions. More often than not, leaders often oppress the impoverished members of the society who they feel cannot stand up for themselves. A case scenario is the Zapatistas in Let the Water Hold Me Down by Michael Spurgeon. They are the impoverished and the underrepresented Mexicans who decide to join forces and stand up for themselves. Also, Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck talks of the oppression of Americans in the early 1930s. From the two novels, it is quite obvious that oppression is the key component and the principal causative agent of poverty.

The novel Grapes of Wrath apparently has its setting during the Great Depression the American continent. The depression began during the Market Crash in 1929 and came to a sudden end in the first phase of World War II. This was twelve years after the World War had taken course. During this period, there were high winds and drought epidemics that significantly affected Oklahoma. “It’s need that makes all the trouble…one day the give us some beans that were sour. One fella started yellin’, an’ nothin’ happened… then all got yelling. Then sompin happened! (Cerf et al., 2015, p.366).The epidemics created what came to be known as the Dust Bowl. This made the people migrate to other places in search of fertile lands to cultivate. This is an aspect of poverty that the novel portrays. Currently, most of the people depend on employment opportunities while the Okies largely depend on their farms as their means to getting food. Their migration from their farms is a show of how oppressive those in leadership are about the weak kneads.

The Okies strive so hard to liberate themselves from the oppressive rule. However much they try hard to make life a little easier for themselves, it just gets more complicated for them and their families. “The oppressed want to be liberated not only from their hunger but also from their masters (Cerf et al., 2015, p.94).” This clearly shows how high the poverty levels have gotten. The people cannot fend for themselves and depend on the authorities to help them sort their hunger and that of their families. It is quite painful if all along the family members have been dependent on a means of livelihood then the government takes it away from them by driving them from their settlement. In this circumstance, they have to find another place that is conducive for their survival which also may take them so many days.

As if the denial of the means of livelihood is not enough, the people receive beatings, and some succumb to these beatings. “They drive us live pigs. Scatter us and beat the hell out of fellas. We can’t last much longer since some people haven’t eaten anything for two days (Cerf et al., 2015, p.367).” The ability of individuals to be independent economically and be in the position to provide for their families is entirely dependent on their well-being, freedom, and capacity to express themselves. The demeaning ruling system and the ill treatment of the people make it difficult for them to provide for their families. This is the main reason that poverty levels in Oklahoma are at their peaks.

The novel by Spurgeon, Let the Water Hold Me Down, the Zapatistas set their chief demand to be democracy and freedom. They feel that if there is a change in the system of leadership, then their oppression will come to a rapid end. “The primary demands are democracy and liberty (Cerf et al., 2015, p.202).” They formed armies of women, men, and children and made their stand known on the New Year. “The Zapatistas take arms tonight because they intend to shun injustice tomorrow (Spurgeon, 2015 p.35).” Hank felt that the people were overly silly and stupid as they stood pathetically in the configuration of their unable armies and wooden guns. The people knew that they did not stand a chance against the mighty armies of their oppressors, but their poverty levels became their drive towards making the bold move. This is a clear indication of how severe the poverty levels were in North America.

Salvador hit the people where it hurt the most when he made them lose their income by introducing subsidies in the United States. The poor indigenous populations had high hopes that NAFTA would keep its promises by creating family enterprises for them. “NAFTA promised great things or Mexicans in general. Families were promised businesses in particular (Cerf et al., 2015, p.127).” Since the people were poor and they felt that the government would hold its promises through NAFTA, they did as they were instructions stated. However, it is evident that the authority was only looking to sort the needs of the families that were ranking in the upper class. The government put some of the people against others so that they would not unite in their struggle. This was because the army was aware that the Zapatistas would gain momentum if the people had unity just as stated in Let the Water Hold Me Down.

In both contexts of the two novels, the authors, Spurgeon and Steinbeck demonstrate avid and impeccable illustration of the social and economic systems in their novels. The novels through have different settings, they both share the common concept of poverty and the manner in which the people suffer. The governments in both settings do not consider managing the wellbeing of the citizens. Most of the leaders use their leadership positions to benefit themselves and increase their wealth levels. This is the main reason the wealthy manage their profit gains by exploiting the lower class. Both novels show instances of oppression of children, men, and women who in turn rebel this by standing up to their oppressors. The only issue with both stories is that they do not give the various solutions that may be vital in getting amicable solutions to the ill treatment of the people. Changing the landscape of the future generations of the people is entirely up to them, and so they are mandated to take action.

Works Cited

Cerf, Natasha, Carly Probert, and John Steinbeck. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. , 2015. Internet resource.

Spurgeon, Michael. Let the Water Hold Me Down: A Novel. , 2014. Print.

October 20, 2022

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