Can poverty be a blessing in disguise? How so?  How does Russell Crowe as James Braddock in "The Cinderella Man" change as a result of poverty.  

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would never suggest that a person voluntarily enter into poverty in order to receive whatever the hidden blessings of poverty are, but when a person or family is poor, there are some blessings. I always tell my children that it is good to know how to be poor because it requires a certain amount of skill the negotiate the world around them, while being rich requires no particular skill at all.

Some people who are poor acquire better habits than people who are not. Thrift is a good habit that poverty forces one into, for example. Doing things for oneself is a blessing, and those who are wealthy do not reap that benefit. People who are poor shovel their own walks, launder their own clothes, cook their own meals, and prepare budgets for themselves.  Those are all important activities that everyone should be able to successfully undertake.  But wealthy people do not necessarily do any of these normal activities for themselves.

While my family is not in poverty, I do require my children to do some cooking, cleaning, and launder their own clothes. We do not hire someone to shovel the sidewalk when it snows or to do routine gardening.  I hope my children are comfortable financially, but I do want them to have those "hidden blessings." 

What does make me angry is the idea that poverty is somehow ennobling, and therefore we should not do anything to correct the abysmal poverty in the United States.  People are entitled to a living wage and health insurance, for example, in my opinion.  There is nothing ennobling about having three jobs and not being able to pay one's bills, and there is no hidden blessing in dying of a heart attack because of a lack of health insurance.  There is no hidden blessing in children who go to bed hungry at night!

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poverty causes hunger and lack of warmth and shelter.  When one wants greatly for things necessary to survival one does what is necessary to survive. James J. Braddock was a light weight champion who was forced to give up boxing after having his hand broken. 

Living during the Great Depression, Braddock does manual labor in order to support his family; however, the wages are not sufficient for Braddock's family.  When his former manager, Joe Gould, offers Braddock a chance to fill in for someone, Braddock accepts the offer.  Mrs. Braddock is greatly against this fight, but later learns that the Goulds, too, are suffering from the Depression.  When Braddock knocks out his opponent in the fird round. he is then offered a chance at the Heavyweight championship.

Braddock beats Max Baer, Jr., in the championship match.  Some of his winnings go the Works Project Organization and the other governement agencies that have given him assistance.  When the public learns of his generosity, and Braddock's own rags-to-riches story, they are in awe of the man who, had he not been driven by hunger and the needs of his family, probably would not have risked injurying a hand that has already been broken.  Indeed, poverty can be a great motivator.  Certainly, it teaches people to appreciate better times when they have them.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A critical part of understanding life in the depression, a la Braddock, and poverty, in general, is the notion of "building character."  The belief is that people learn more about themselves and one another when they are impoverished.  The perception about poverty's effect is that individuals learn about what is valid and important.  It helps to bring a sense of toughness and reality to individuals.  The notions of "rolling up one's sleeves" and "showing some gumption" are connoted with such an image.  In the final analysis, some would argue that these "blessings" of poverty are done to ensure that there are impoverished people, as opposed to questioning the allocation of resources and power.  It is easier to maintain status quo if individuals are taughts that poverty is an emotional and internal experience, as opposed to being a part of a larger struggle that bonds individals to one another.  However, others would argue that the developments of a more "complete" sense of self can be brought about by poverty and the conditions that reflect it.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poverty is never a good thing in the end. Who would ever wish this? But this does not mean that a person cannot learn things from poverty. Poverty may help a person to see certain things, such as the importance of things that money cannot buy. In other words, there are many priceless things - family and people, to name two. Sometimes it takes some sort of suffering to see these things. In this sense, poverty may be a blessing. If a person can learn these lessons apart from poverty, then it is better. But the unfortunate aspect of humanity is that often times we learn through hardships or only when hardships are forced upon us. As for James Braddock, he was  good man in the movie with or without wealth.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That would certainly depend on your point of view.

I would assume that the most usual argument for why it would be a blessing would have to do with spiritual values and finding out what's really important.

You often hear the idea (especially around this time of year) that we are too materialistic.  If you became poor, you can argue, you'd find out that material goods aren't what really matter and that it's really your family and things like that which really make you well-off and happy.

Personally, I'd not like to try to be blessed in that way, but that's the usual argument for why poverty could be a blessing.

booksnmore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While I don't know that I could call poverty a good thing, I will mention something that I noticed while living in a third world country...

To me, it seemed that the majority of people--very, very poor people--were happier than the average North American. Sometimes I think we live a kind of poverty...we just don't recognize it as such. We get so wrapped up in our "stuff" that we fail to pause and value things that those folks focus on--relationships, down time, etc. So poverty can be a blessing when it allows people to focus on what is truly important.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poverty is not a good thing. The only positive (and I'm not so sure positive is the right word to use) thing about it is that it can make people more appreciative of the things they have. It can also bring families closer together because they need one another.

Poverty has so many negative effects. People may not be able to afford healthier foods, no insurance or health care, etc. The list goes on and on. Poverty is definitely not a blessing!

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I don't think poverty is ever a blessing. To be impoverished is to live a very difficult life. Broken families, malnutrition, teen pregancy, domestic violence, infant mortality and unemployment are some of the milder effects. The worst ones inolve drug addiction, prison, homicide and chronic health problems. I cannot see any of these things as a blessing. Sometimes ignorance is not bliss.
ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poverty is absolutely not a blessing in disguise. Can people rise above poverty? Can poverty motivate people to make different choices? Yes, but do some research, and you will probably find the suffering and stigma that goes along with poverty is much greater than the “blessing” of poverty.