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Dick Gregory's "Shame" Response

By OliviaS2 Sep 29, 2013 388 Words

Poverty Personified
The story “Shame” by Dick Gregory emphasizes how one is taught to be ashamed or embarrassed. The main character, Richard, was not ashamed of his poverty stricken childhood until it was acknowledge by his teacher and classmates. Richard was greatly impacted by the life that he lived. Poverty effected Richard’s self-esteem, and school progress, and eventually his adult life. Richard’s self esteem was extremely brittle. He knew he had to do things every morning or night that that other children his age did not have to do. He describes having to go get some chopped ice and having to wait until it melts to wash his clothes. If the clothes were not dry in the morning, he would have to put them one regardless. Richard was also impacted by his lack of a father. He knew that everyone in class had one especially his muse Helene Tucker. When the teacher begins taking donations from the students fathers’ Richard tells that teacher that his father wants to donate. But instead of being understanding to him, she calls him out in front of the class, acknowledging his lack of a father. This is the first instance of his shame.

Richard was categorized as a troublemaker in school. Not that he was an actual troublemaker but instead acting out because he was hungry and did not have any food to eat. Richard’s hunger hindered his concentration while in school. He would sneak into the coatroom and steal food from other students or sometimes eat paste. The teachers did not understand that he was hungry. He felt as if they did not care to understand. It was not just hunger that plagued his mind while he was in school. He analyzes being cold, having to share a bed with five other people, being smelly and not having shoes to put on. Everyday he tries to be his best to in school in spite of his situation. Richard did not live his poverty stricken lifestyle his entire life. However, his shame did not leave him. For twenty-two years he pondered on why no one helped him and why he lived the way he did. But when he was presented with the opportunity to help someone else, he did not recognize it. Just as his schoolteacher did to him.

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