What is an example of the theme of poverty in Rumble Fish?

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

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One example of the poverty theme in Hinton's work might be in the opening.  Rusty- James is shown to be embodying the rootless life of poverty.  He lacks economic opportunities, representative of poverty.  At the same time, he has no means of income as he is "bumming around."  The reader's introduction to Rusty- James is reflective of the impoverished condition in which he and Motorcycle Boy live.  They live in a "crummy" part of town, reflective of the condition of poverty.  The presence of welfare subsidiaries in the home help to enhance the theme of poverty that shapes the narrative that both brothers must experience.  They don't have much in way of food and basic supplies, reverting to stealing in order to subsist.  The scant condition of their home in terms of lacking necessities and having little in way of luxury helps to support the theme of poverty that shapes their world.  

Rusty- James' orientation to time is another example of the theme of poverty that is present in the narrative.  The fact that Rusty- James does not wish to look ahead or behind is reflective of a condition of poverty where the present tense is difficult enough, so that little in way of self- actualization in the future or past could be facilitated.  The temporal perspective that Rusty- James has on the world and his place in it is another way that the theme of poverty is present.

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