Poverty In Gordon Parks Flavio's Home

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Poverty is “...the most savage of all human afflictions” (1). It “...[spreads] like a cancer” through generations that become ever more powerless to “...mobilize their efforts against it” (1). Nowhere is this more clear than in Gordon Parks’ essay, “Flavio’s Home”. Parks vividly retells the story of a young boy, Flavio de Silva, and his family as they struggle to survive on grossly less than the bare minimum in the slums of Rio. He shows that poverty breeds hunger and ultimately, death.

Parks introduction of Flavio emphasizes the brutal effects of poverty on the human body:

Breathing hard, balancing a tin of water on his head, a small boy climbed toward us. He was miserably thin, naked but for filthy denim shorts. His legs resembled sticks …show more content…

He has the stature of a Jew in the midst of the Holocaust. He is a skeleton with skin. His body is so devoid of nutrients that his skin is turning yellow. (3) Flavio is only “...twelve” (5) and he’s being starved into an early grave by poverty. He is the eldest of eight children living in a shack that brings in seventy-five cents a day. (5, 17) His parents can’t afford to properly feed anybody. It's not a question whether Flavio will die, but when.

Poverty is also choking Flavio. He has violent coughing fits where it seems as if his lungs were “... tearing apart” (11). His face turns blue and he spits and literally chokes through his fits. (11) These outbursts disturbed Parks, while his siblings seemed oddly placid, as if it was normal. (23) But what can they do? They can’t afford to take Flavio to the clinic, so Parks offers to. (26) The doctor delivers disheartening news: “I’m afraid you’re too late. [Flavio is] wasted with bronchial asthma, malnutrition and, I suspect, tuberculosis. ... That poor lad’s finished. He might last another year ⎯ maybe not” (35). His diagnosis is a death sentence, not because the diseases are incurable, because the clinic doesn’t have the resources to buy the cure for him. (35) “There’s barely enough money to buy aspirin [, the doctor says.] [And it’s] like this every day. ...[The slums] are packed with other kids just as bad off ” (35). A cure means nothing, if you can’t afford

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