Harmful Impacts of Wealth and Poverty

HarmfulImpacts of Wealth and Poverty

Paradoxically,too much money and lack of it can ruin lives in a myriad of ways.These two views have been put across in two stories Babylonrevisitedand Istand here ironing.These two stories are very different one talks about too muchwealth, and the other one talks about too much poverty. The lives ofboth the poor and the wealth are analyzed in the two stories in waysthat reveal the damaging effects of too much poverty and wealth.Babylon revisited is a short story about a man who wasted all hismoney in clubs to an extent that he lost his wife and daughter. Onthe other hand, I stand here ironing is a story that depicts theextremes of poverty and had damaging it can be. Both show thatextremes of either wealth or poverty can ruin lives in devastatingways.

Impactsof too much wealth

InBabylon revisited, Charlie is a character who has too much money towaste around. The story revolves around his life and how much he hasdestroyed all in one stroke. Charlie is a wealthy man who lost hiswife in the midst of his extravagant ways in Paris. Due to hisirresponsible behavior, he also lost his only daughter, who was beingtaken care of by his sister in law. He is trying hard to prove thathe has changed and is ready to take care of his daughter. On theother hand, the sister in law, Marion, does not trust him and keepsblaming him for the death of his wife. He has stopped drinking toomuch in an attempt to show that he ready to take care of hisdaughter.

Inthe story, it is clear that Charlie has led a destructive lifebecause he had too much money. He was irresponsible and only caredabout his own selfish interests. He had a lot of money to waste anddid not take care of his family properly. When he returned back fromParis, we realize that he has stopped his extravagant lifestyle. Wealso learn that he had lost his wealth when he is talking to Paultowards the end of the story. He tells Paul that he lost all hismoney in the short selling of the stock market. The short sellinghere is a metaphor, which means that he used all his money in anextravagant lifestyle. He spent more than he made hence, he losteverything that he acquired. His drinking habit was tooirresponsible, and it could have contributed to the ‘short sell.’It is always advisable to manage wealth wisely rest you loseeverything you worked so hard to get. This is the same case withCharlie he thought that he was on top of the world because he hadmoney to waste around. He was not aware that is more difficult tobuild a wealth than it is to destroy it. If he had spent his moneywisely, he still would have something to show for it for a long time.

Theother kind of wealth that Charlie lost was that of his family. He hada wife and daughter, whom he lost due to his irresponsible behavior(Fitzgerald 4). Clearly, Charlie did have a complete family however,he took it for granted. He is being blamed for the loss of his wife,who he neglected during his extravagant days. His sister in law tookover the custody of his daughter because he did not prove capable oftaking care of a child. His efforts to get her back are futile as hissister in law does not trust her yet. Family is a precious gift thatcan break if one becomes irresponsible. This is the second type ofwealth that the narrator is talking about after money.

Charlie’sstory is a classical example of what too much material wealth can do.If you get too much money and decide to waste it in alcohol and otherirresponsible behaviors, you not only risk losing that money, butalso a precious thing family. Charlie has been left in the dark andhis only hope is to win her only daughter back. Having in mind thathe is blamed for the death of his wife, it is unlikely that hissister in law will grant him custody of his daughter. He has a lot ofproving to do before he can be given back his precious daughter.

Impactsof poverty

Justlike too much wealth can be destructive, so is poverty. This isdepicted in the story of I stand here ironing. It talks about anarrator who lives in immense poverty and lives form hand to mouth.The narrator married at nineteen years when she got her first bornbaby, Emily. Unfortunately, Emily’s father left them in extremepoverty, which only ended when the narrator remarried. Before herremarriage however, they lived in extreme poverty and her mother hada difficult time taking care of Emily. She had to work to provide forher because she had no one else to look up to. Therefore, she had nochoice but to leave her daughter with not so caring babysitters. Sheknew that babysitters were not the best option, but she had to workto feed her daughter. In turn, this made Emily grow in an environmentthat was not so conducive. It was as if she was neglected sincebirth.

Whenthe narrator remarried, their lives became more stable and she wasable to give birth to more children. She had a chance to take care ofher other children better because we assume that her husbandprovided, while she stayed at home to take care of her children.However, this did not go well with Emily. The environment in whichshe was brought up in still affected her growth. There was a timethat she had to leave her with her family because the financialcircumstances did not allow her to stay with her daughter. It took along time before she could raise enough money for her fare back tolive with her once again. Unfortunately, her daughter fell ill andshe had to wait for sometime before she could recover and live withher. That is when the narrator realized that her life had changedcompletely and she looked thin and pale. Once again, due to herfinancial constrains, she had to take her to an overcrowded nurserywhen she was only two years. In the school, she was harassed byanother student but the teacher did not care. In fact, her teachermade the situation worse. The narrator was then advised to take herchild to a boarding school where she would be given the food and careshe needed. Again, this made the matters worse for poor Emily. Shewas too young and missed the comfort of her mother. Emily’supbringing was terrible.

Shewould fall ill often and still not complain because she was used tohardships. The narrator is more stable in her second marriage and isable to raise them well unlike the case of Emily. However, Emily didnot improve or respond well to her new life. Her smile was hard tocome by, although she was too good and kind. Whereas the otherchildren of the narrator continued to grow well, Emily’s lifebecame worse. She never fitted anywhere and her life became lonelyand miserable. This did not only affect her social life, but also heracademic life. She was slow in schools and was thus assumed to be apoor performer (Olsen).

Atthe end of the story we learn that Emily, despite all hershortcomings, had a god talent f comedy. However, her mother stillthinks that she does not have enough money to nurture it. I believethat in this case, talent does not require money to nurture it. Hermother should take her to social institutions s that others canrealize her talent. She should also encourage her to practice hertalent in churches and schools where many people will notice hertalent and allow her to grow it. This will give her back her smileand the strength to face the tough world.

Istand here ironing is an inspiring story of poverty and upbringing.It clearly shows that poor living conditions have a great impact on achild’s development. It may completely deny a child of truehappiness. Emily is a victim of poor upbringing. Her mother was sopoor such that, at some point, she had to leave her to leave her withher family. Te child became ill often and would also be molested in anursery school. Since her mother was poor, she had no much to soabout this whole case. Emily’s life shows immense poverty isdestructive. She has embraced a poor life such that she does not seebeyond it. She does not have many friends and she is slow in school.She rarely smiles even though she a great person.

Theother kind of poverty that is portrayed in the story could be that oflack of mother’s care and poor upbringing. Emily’s mother wasyoung and did not know how to take care of a small child. She let hergo to a school at a tender age when she needed the comfort of hermother. She spent less time with her mother and this made her growcold. The nursery schools that she attended only aggravated theproblem. She was harassed and the teachers there were not concernedabout her welfare. This poverty is immaterial and cannot compare tomaterial poverty. Every child requires a ‘wealthy’ environment togrow in. For instance, the child requires the care of a mother aswell as caring baby sitters. This is the kind of immaterial wealththat can build a child’s wellbeing. Conversely, if a child lacksall of these like Emily, he or she is likely to have poor cognitivedevelopments. She is likely to become lonely and alienated from thepeers. It is essential to take care of children in the rightenvironment for their wellbeing for as children and adults.


Bothstories Babylon revisited and I stand here ironing are true examplesof what either too much wealth or poverty can be destructive. Theauthors of these stories show their audiences some of the problemsthat can be brought about by either poverty or wealth. They are botheducative and touch on day to day problems that people face everyday. In the story of Babylon revisited, we see Charlie get ruined bytoo much money. He later lost all his wealth due to his irresponsiblebehavior. Losing all his wealth does not only refer to losing hismoney, but also his family. He is now left a lonely man with no wifeand a child under the care of his sister in law. He is left fightingfor his only child, but it is going to be difficult to gain theconfidence of his sister in law. In the second story of I stand hereironing, we see how poverty can ruin the lives of people. Emily’schildhood was ruined thanks to poor upbringing. She has turned out tobe a very lonely child whose future is at stake. Her performance inschool is wanting as she is slow in learning. Fortunately, her talentmight save her if she and her mother works hard to bring it to thelight. Though very different, both stories are educative andinformative. These stories that were written prewar are stillrelevant in day to day life.


Fitzgerald,F S. BabylonRevisited: Short Story.S.l.: HarperCollins Canada, 2014. Print.

Olsen,Tillie. I Stand Here Ironing. 1913-2007. Web. April 4, 2015.https://archive.org/stream/I_Stand_Here_Ironing_Revised/IStandHereIroning_djvu.txt