How would I go about writing a response to Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One potential avenue for writing a response to Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London is to address the social conditions that exist in both Orwell's time and our own.

I think that one of the best responses to make to Orwell's work is to analyze how or if money influences the way we see people.  For example, Orwell suggests that "It is curious how people take it for granted that they have a right to preach at you and pray over you as soon as your income falls below a certain level."  Orwell suggests that society views poor people as people who have failed because of some defect within them:

Working men 'work', beggars do not 'work'; they are parasites, worthless in their very nature. It is taken for granted that a beggar does not 'earn' his living, as a bricklayer or a literary critic 'earns' his.

A potential response would be to see if that is true today.  Do we see people who are poor as having some type of deficiency that needs to be remedied? Do we see them as a group of people who are out to get "free stuff" or do we see them as a larger part "of the 99%?"  I think that it might be interesting to delve into if wealth impacts our view of people in today's setting and compare it to what Orwell suggests.

Orwell talks about the "outcast."  He suggests that modern society sees the poor as outsiders: "People seem to feel that there is some essential difference between beggars and ordinary 'working' men. They are a race apart--outcasts, like criminals and prostitutes."  A potential avenue for a response would be to see if this is true today.  Are there groups in our society that are seen as a "race apart?"  Are their segments of the population that possess "some essential difference" which sees them as less than others?  It might be interesting to see how Orwell's view of social configuration compares with modern perception.

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