The story in Jack London’s book The People of The Abyss that stood out to me was about starvation. London spoke to a woman who’s husband was an engineer, but did not have the energy to find a steady position due to the lack of food. She, her husband and their two young daughters all lived in what London called a “hole.” They had no stove, so they were forced to cook their small portions of food in their fireplace. London recounts how the family always “rose from the table able and willing to eat more.” All four family members felt the affects of malnutrition, including exhaustion, sickness and lack of work. In order to support the family, the two daughters were forced to work miles away from their home, but due to their lack of energy they were often late for work and fined for their tardiness. The woman worked from morning until night making dresses for just cents a piece, simply trying to make enough money to feed her family. This story struck me as particularly sad because this family may have been able to break the cycle of poverty if only someone had given them a helping hand. It was sad that every member of the family had to work so hard only to make a few cents a day. I found that this story characterized the Victorian Era quite well, and explained the conditions in which the people lived in that time period.
Archive for January 27, 2009
Prior to reading Jack London’s story I thought of the Victorian Era as something full of grander and magnificence. I saw the Victorian Era as being full of wonderfully dressed people with money and social status, as well as a period of time brimming with excess. After reading stories from London’s book, and learning more about the time period, I now see the Victorian Era as grim and filled with an air of loss. The government of the time was not willing to help these people, or do much more than give them a free sandwich every now and then. The religious leaders of the day were insistent that being poor was a direct punishment from God, which was both false and degrading. The destitute people of the Victorian Era were taught to believe that their place in life was their fault, and that there was very little they could do to change it. Through our class lectures and reading London’s book, I have come to realize that the Victorian Era was nothing like what the majority of people believe. It was a truly depressing time, yet was full of very kind people who did not deserve their situation.