In a feeble attempt to fill the fairly conspicuous gap in posts from the past few weeks, I present a summary of Floyd Dell's short story, "We're Poor." The essay itself was written as a companion to my previous essay, entitled "The Civilization," for the Example essay. "We're Poor" describes the series of events that leads to a child's realization that his family is poor.
The example essay generally aims to prove a point or demonstrate a theme that acts essentially as a thesis. This is often achieved through the medium of a narrative and is commonly utilized in folk tales and fables to illustrate, through the events of a story, the value of a particular moral. Such stories are often organized in a cookie cutter fashion, opening with a point being stated and then supported by the follies of a main character. In the story, "We're Poor," author Floyd Dell refuses to subscribe to this template and instead attempts to recount - in startlingly vivid terms - the series of events that led to a child coming to the realization that his family is poor.
As is typical of any child of a young age, the narrator lives oblivious to the circumstances that set him apart in society. He accepts the conditions in which he lives to be normal and finds no need to further question his situation. Floyd Dell skillfully illustrates the various aspects of the child's life, incrementally revealing to the reader the extent of the poverty in which the narrator lives. The narrator examines these discrepancies individually, allowing the reader to connect with the character from the time the soles of his shoes are replaced with cardboard, to his embarrassment at having only pennies to donate to the poor, and finally - as all of the pieces drop into place - to the agonizing realization of why his family couldn't celebrate Christmas.
Innumerable contemporary texts have been written on the subject of the lower class and unemployment. While Floyd Dell could have easily written a dissertation on the hardships of poverty, he opted instead to show the reader a life of poverty in the most profound way that he could: from the eyes of a child. "We're Poor" takes the reader from a plodding, uncertain beginning through increasingly poignant imagery, only to climax in a wave of numbness.