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“Death of a Homeless Man” by Scott Russell Sanders Essay

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Updated: Apr 29th, 2021

Summary

The story dwells upon the death of John Griffin, a homeless man who lived in South Boston. Many people knew this man as they saw him in the street singing songs, telling marvelous stories, and sharing his intriguing philosophical perspectives. It was known that Griffin was a veteran of the Korean War. He was also an alcoholic. His death was rather horrible as he burnt down to death near his hovel only several strides from the water. The exact cause of the fire is unknown. The author stresses that the aim of the story is not simply to inform about the fact or some statistics concerning poverty or alcoholism in the USA. The author pays attention to details that make people think about the essence and real causes of the problem.

The author mentions that several high-rank officials and priests attended the funeral of the homeless person. Thus, the mayor of the city, the state secretary for human affairs, the police commissioner, a minister, and a cardinal, as well as other officials, were at the funeral. The author stresses that all these people did not know what to do with Griffin when he was alive, but they all turned up to bury him. The officials revealed brooding, but they tried to put the blame on others. For instance, one of them stated that the system did not fail the homeless person as it was his choice to live the way he did, and the choice had to be respected. At that, the author emphasizes that if a person chooses to live in a hovel instead of a shelter for homeless people, there are chances that something is wrong with the system, the shelter, and all those services provided. The author claims that the efforts made by officials and the system do not seem sufficient as the problem is not solved. The author also states that the change starts in the society where people have empathy with those who need help.

Response

The short article raises two important questions concerning the vices of the US (as well as many other countries’) society. First, it reveals the ineffectiveness of the system that leads to suffering and even the death of thousands. Secondly, it unveils the hypocrisy of many people (or rather officials). I totally agree with the two arguments the author provides. I also think that people should not seem brooding over the problems of homeless people. It is much more important to focus on the development of effective solutions that could decrease the rate of homelessness in the country. At that, it seems that officials are ready to tolerate some statistics until the figures are too alarming. I also think that shelters (and other services provided to homeless people) are not effective enough if so many people decide to live on their own rather than address some agencies or organizations.

Nonetheless, I disagree with another point concerning empathy. I believe it is not enough for people to have empathy with those in need. There are thousands of people who actually understand and empathize. At the same time, there are only dozens or hundreds who actually try to change the situation and help some people. Perhaps, it is time to look for new approaches. The educational system should be more involved. For instance, students should be encouraged to participate in various projects aimed at helping homeless people. Companies may also be encouraged to employ such individuals as many homeless people may complete various tasks or even take up white-collar jobs. Building shelters or giving food is not sufficient. Psychological support and the development of self-esteem, as well as the desire to return to life within society, are critical. I believe these steps or similar methods could help reduce the number of homeless people.

Words, Definitions, and Sentences

Conscientious (used as an adjective in the story) is committed to doing one’s job (or any task) properly and thoroughly.

She wished to be a conscientious teacher so she always explained everything in detail so that every student could grasp the material.

Brooding (used as a gerund in the story) is displaying profound thought that is often associated with negative emotions and feelings.

His brooding on their breakup was rather irritating as everyone knew he was not sorry at all.

Preference (used as a noun in the story) is having a more positive attitude towards something compared to other things.

They had a preference for living abroad in winter when the weather was awful.

Tremble (used as a verb in the story) is to shake usually because of some emotions such as fear or anxiety and so on.

She did not tremble anymore as she understood that it was for the good of all.

Empathy (used as a noun) is being able to understand other people’s feelings.

He never revealed any empathy, but he always helped those in need by giving money or shelter as this was the right thing to do.

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IvyPanda. (2021, April 29). “Death of a Homeless Man” by Scott Russell Sanders. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/death-of-a-homeless-man-by-scott-russell-sanders/

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"“Death of a Homeless Man” by Scott Russell Sanders." IvyPanda, 29 Apr. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/death-of-a-homeless-man-by-scott-russell-sanders/.

1. IvyPanda. "“Death of a Homeless Man” by Scott Russell Sanders." April 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/death-of-a-homeless-man-by-scott-russell-sanders/.


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IvyPanda. "“Death of a Homeless Man” by Scott Russell Sanders." April 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/death-of-a-homeless-man-by-scott-russell-sanders/.

References

IvyPanda. 2021. "“Death of a Homeless Man” by Scott Russell Sanders." April 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/death-of-a-homeless-man-by-scott-russell-sanders/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) '“Death of a Homeless Man” by Scott Russell Sanders'. 29 April.

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