Poverty In Joseph Conrad's The Tin Flute And Heart Of Darkness

Submitted By allmylaughter
Words: 1176
Pages: 5

Alexa Garcia
English ISU Essay
While reading “The Tin Flute” by Gabrielle Roy and “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, one will find similarities and contrasts among poverty and its numerous causes. Roy presents poverty throughout “The Tin Flute” with her use of reference to the ripples caused in the lives of many people due to war. Conrad also presents poverty within “Heart of Darkness” with his use of reference to colonisation and its many effects among the natives living in the Congo. With their allusions to past events, both authors illustrate the causes and effects of poverty effectively throughout their novels.
Writing in reflection of the Great Depression during World War II, [editors name page number] Roy writes about the Lacasse Family and their numerous struggles during the war. The war has caused a great blow to their normal lifestyle in numerous ways. Before the war had ever started, the Lacasse family was made up of eleven members. With this number the Lacasse family knew it would be hard to provide “ ‘when there was only ten of us it was hard enough to get along but now there’s going to be eleven...’ ” [Roy 82]. Even then, the family would rely on relief, though they were embarrassed by it. Families back then would turn to relief, a sum of money given to them by the government to help their struggles, “ ‘Where’s he going to find the money?...He had his relief, why couldn’t he stay on it?’ ” [Roy 64]. However, due to the arrival of war, the money used for relief is now being re directed to the war efforts; for ammunition, food and other daily provisions. The effect of this is now the absence of money for the families that rely on the relief money. Due to the loss of money, family members may resort to numerous things to help support them and their families.
Those who now used to rely on relief money must now find an additional way of supporting themselves. Eugene, a member of the Lacasse family had discovered that by joining the war, one would be providing a great deal of money to your family. Thus, in order to help his family escape the cells of poverty; he takes uniform and heads off to fight “ ‘Listen, Ma...it’s going to be a help...all the time I’m in the army you’re going to get twenty bucks a month’ ” [Roy 67] It is disheartening to learn later on that Eugene ends up dying while fighting – all for the good of his family. Roy’s presented theme of dispossession would represent Rose-Anna’s grief at the loss of her son. It is with this grief that the reader would further understand poverty and the sacrifices made by those to overcome it. Azarius, the father of Eugene adopts his son’s point of view after his death “Motionless, Azarius was standing there in uniform” [Roy 381]. In turn, he follows suit and decides to join the army hoping the ninety-seven dollars he will be making will be enough to support his family “ ‘Your peace and quiet’s coming Rose-Anna...altogether you’re going to have about ninety-seven dollars a month!’ ” [Roy 376]. Nevertheless, not everyone could go to war; so, they made their own personal sacrifices.
Florentine, the eldest daughter of the Lacasse family is a young seventeen year old girl that decided to help her family her own way. She took a job at the Five and Ten, a restaurant in Montreal. With the money she had, she gave it all away to help her mother Rose-Anna, “Florentine, hating her work behind the counter, detesting every minute of her subjection to life, and yet giving... her pay to her family” [Roy 41]. With this the family can live on despite their troubles. Despite the unhealthy status Florentine endures to lack of nutrition, she continues to work hard and it is much appreciated by her family. Using the visual imagery of Florentines hate for her work, while still doing it for the benefit for her family adds to the readers’ mind that in those times of depression one would go to great lengths to escape poverty.
Writing in allusion to Belgium’s’ period of reign