The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

by Benjamin Franklin

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According to Franklin, why would a poor person sometimes be inclined to give away more rapidly than would a richer person?

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In The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Franklin writes “A man being sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty, perhaps thro’ fear of being thought to have but little” (25). With this quote, Franklin is saying sometimes people without much money give more than they can afford, because they are concerned about other people thinking they are poor. Ironically, this will make them even poorer over the long term, since they will continually put themselves into more and more debt to save themselves from embarrassment.

Additionally, people with less money tend to think of others’s needs more than people who have wealth, especially since they can relate to their problems better than wealthy people can. In being considerate of other people’s needs, people with less money are more willing to give to those in need. Another aspect of this quote is that the wealthier are stingier than the poor, which is ironic because the wealthy have more that they can give than the poor does.

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