Richness and poverty have been antonyms since dim and distant past. As a matter of fact they define not only concepts of economics and social life, but well create psychological images in people’s mind. No longer we doubt that the rich think in much more different manner than the poor do which is logically presupposed by living conditions and the surrounding attitude. Nevertheless, while rugs-to-riches scenario is steadily clichéd it’s rather rare case when one experiences such a situation in the reverse order.
In the autobiographical essay “Facing Poverty with a Rich Girl’s Habits” written by Suki Kim as the memoir the author shares her childhood experiences when she witnessed her family go bankrupt and move to Queens, New York.
The author expresses her feelings about striking her cultural differences along with psychological discomfort she had to experience due to a rigid change of living place and social status. As she herself mentions, “I found it humiliating to wheel our dirty clothes to a bleak place called Laundromat” (Kim, p. 93), which clearly shows the mental shift in the young girl’s mind. Cultural shock was not restricted to that though, the girl met with other day-to-day realities which made difference for her, for instance using public transport instead of being driven by a chauffeur, doing homework without help, household.
Altogether such simple but still unknown and unusual to her things changed her dramatically, let alone her world perception. Having faced an absolutely different surrounding the rich girl realized she had no choice but adjust to everything. That is exactly what the writer is willing to show – the mental shift and the change of outlook caused by society phenomenon such as immigration, which according to the author is “the great equalizer” (Kim, p. 94). To my way of thinking these exact words provide a background tone of the memoir, appealing to our mind so that we read between the lines.
The writer touched upon the issue of 1.5 generation she herself belonged to. At this point the problem of identity crisis appears, obviously changing people and making them different. Moreover, society is a great contributor, separating and not completely accepting those who fight at the two fronts.
I believe the author appeals not only to those who carried out through the same, but to the broad audience in order to draw attention upon this society problem, touching the cultural sensitivity issues. Admittedly, one needs to be brave enough to be ready to talk and write about it, taking in consideration genetically presupposed rich girl’s closedness and privacy. And it is my firm belief that the writer did not lose, neither reduced those psychological features.
As far as I would express my personal attitude to the essay I would say I am deeply touched. The reason why I think so obviously does not lie …
Posted by: Susanne Ryman